I had a question from one of my more successful clients that I just had to talk about here.Â His concerns bring up some really important points regarding search engine optimization and ranking.Â This client’s site is very successful because he works hard at it.Â He does Google Adwords and is constantly adjusting to ensure that his ranking stays high for as many keywords as possible.Â It took quite a while, almost a year in fact, for his site to appear in the organic listings for Google.Â I still believe (despite Google’s protests) that they held his site back from the organic listings to ensure that he continued to buy into the adwords program.Â I would venture to say that even though he is now present in the organic listings (non-sponsored or pay per click listings) that he only appears sporadically and not for all his keyword phrases.Â But back to the question….
As this site is so successful they are constantly being pressured or chased by newcomers in their field.Â My client Fantasia Canada spends a lot of time checking his stats and watching his ranking so he sees these new sites when they appear.Â Recently one of these new rival sites appeared in the organic listings for the MSN search engine ahead of his site when he searched.Â He sent me an email regarding this matter and wondered if we should adjust or change his title and meta tagsÂ so that he could rank ahead of this new upstart.
I quickly did some keyword searches of my own in MSN.
When searching for theÂ key phrase “fantasia home party” : my client isÂ #7 and the rival is #3 and #4
When searching for the key phrase “fantasia party” : my client is #3 and #4 and the rival is #7
when searching for the key phrase “fantasia home parties”Â :Â my client is #7 and the rival is #3
when searching for “fantasia party canada” or “fantasia canada” : my client is #1 and the rival does not show up in the first 10 listings.
It is fairly obvious that one of the keyÂ differences that allows MSN to differentiate between the two sites is the title tag which for the rival site is optimized for fantasia home party and for my client optimized for fantasia party and fantasia canada.Â Before agreeing with my client I decided to go one step further and find out what the general public is actually searching for.Â One good tool to use for this is theÂ Overture Keyword Suggestion tool which tracks actual searches in Overture and Wordtracker.Â A search for Fantasia and FantasiaÂ Party revealed that the keyword phrase that my client’s site is optimized for – “fantasia party” – receives roughly 3 times as many hits as the keyword phrase “fantasia home party”.Â Approximately 1300 hits or searches per month versus 315.Â
CurrentlyÂ the Fantasia Canada site receivesÂ between 7000 to 8000 visitors per month withÂ the average visitorÂ staying on the site for at least 3 minutes and browsing 6 or moreÂ pages.Â These are really good statistics and because the site visitors stay awhile and view so many pages we know that the website is optimized for the right keywords.Â Bonus is that the keywords that work best for this site just happen to be the ones used in searches most often.Â I recommended to my client that he leave things as they are a little while longer and he agreed. Changing his keywords to jump above the new rival in the listings might have actually resulted in less traffic in the long run.Â
The Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool only compares searches within its own database index and so is not an accurate picture of the entire internet however it can serve asÂ a good relative measure of keyword popularity in comparison to other keyword phrases.Â
So I mentioned I wanted to make some important points with this whole story:
- It is important to note new competitors as they appear in the listings but don’t focus on just one search engine, try to make comparisons across the big 3 – Google, MSN and Yahoo
- You can’t beat everyone for every set of keywordsÂ – try to beat your competitors for the most important or popular search terms instead
- Have patience and remember that as long as you were there first and continue to regularly update your site you will always have the edge in Google which receives more than 50% of all search traffic
(view current stats here: http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2156451Â )
An interesting note to add here is that the new competing website has appeared in the MSN listings quite quickly butÂ has not yet appearedÂ in the Google organic listings and probably won’t for some time yet.Â