Last week I had an interesting meeting with a client that was in a onboarding phase. The client has a newish brand with very little visibility online or history for this new brand that was launched in May 2021.

The client is subscribed to my SEO services and the meeting was to review the keyword targets for the service that I am delivering. An SEO discussion I had with a client:

“Shaneo, we appreciate your keyword research buddy, but you’ve recommended we go after obscure terms with very low search volume? I’m not sure that tactic aligns with our objectives”

My reply “I have advised that the focus to start with should be primarily on long-tail and to work up towards more competitive terms because of some background factors.

How To Assess Intent Based Targeting

  1. Your domain has little history or authority, you are basically brand new in Google’s eyes.
  2. Your site coverage is TOO thin to go after the terms you suggested and as part of the SEO strategy we’ll build those pages out within your budget and within the proposed scope of work and
  3. The terms I suggested had VERY HIGH cpc’s which suggests that the conversion intent is likely to be MUCH higher”

Maybe in hindsight I should of led with point 3, oh well next time. I do try to help educate business owners when I present my strategy as not everyone understands SEO and the power it has in growing businesses.

keyword data and insights

Why I Recommend Intent Based Targets

NEVER put low search volume queries down, ever. In fact, some of my greatest achievements from an ROI perspective came from building out huge swathes of long-tail based on ZSVK (zero search volume keywords).

The longer-tail the search (the more specific it is) the more likely you are to generate a conversion. My plan is stack up a lot of long tail keywords and once we have the traffic we can start to move towards those higher search volume keywords. 

My guide to types of keywords.

In fact, my SEO strategies usually work back to front in that I’ll shun high search volume terms for mass lower search volume terms where there are huge competition gaps, rich snippet opportunities and a chance to generate a MUCH higher ROI.

Generic search terms are often impacted heavily by localisation, device and obscurity when it comes to conversion value/intent.

My Own Analysis Informs The Tactic

I always do my own website audit to see what we have to work with and the analysis of opportunity or risks associated with competitors. A risk would be targeting things that a household name brand is targeting when you are a startup thats just a pipe dream. We have to target the long tails first.

Ahrefs keyword explorer

That’s not to say I don’t go after bat shit crazy competition keywords (I do) just, further into the relationship. It also depends on the client. If they have trust in me to get the small wins first and continue to trust me when it comes to the very competitive targets then we are going to suceed.

Big clients want big terms? I go for them. Big clients want huge volumes of long tail – I go for it. All I ask is my clients and prospective clients have faith in me to hit the targets we agree on, I do this every day I live and breathe it and I bring the client on the journey.

Smaller businesses just CANNOT compete on small budgets for high-value terms without a real concerted effort and patience/persistence (unless they are in some obscure industry with low competition).

NEVER discount low or zero search volume queries (ZERO doesn’t mean zero, it just means zero as per keyword tools but no ZERO in reality).

Low competition + high CPC + queries of 4 or more words = Goldmine.

If we are getting into the weeds around keywords and search volume I start to set some red flags with the client who I am happy to advise if they want to go after terms that they have set in their mind. But I still recommend the strategy thats the best for growth of the business.

There is a pattern emerging and partly due to COVID where you get a brand new “marketing associate” or “Account Manager” who was on university or was working at BP last month is the person who is telling you that yoru keywords need to be your band namme only. Huge LOL from me but this is a reality from the big agencies.

This type of person does not have the in feild experience to give you business adivce plain and simple.

The other problem you will face is the ex agency freelancer (I am aware thats where I am coming from)  who was brand new at the agency, got a taste of success and learnt/stole the agency process and decided to build their own 1 man band.

This is an honest recap of 6 of those types of SEO specialist I have been monitoring this year 2021. I have also been cleaning up the mess they make with businesses by auditing the mess of a marketing plan they implemented.

New Agency Person: Learns basic SEO from MOZ.

New Agency Person: Understands SEO basics.

45 minutes later…

Changes LinkedIn title to ‘SEO expert’.

SEO expert: Ranks site for an obscure brand name. Ranking a brand name is the lowest of low hanging fruit.

SEO expert: Shares no context ranking results graph everywhere. Gets work colleges to help share and drive momentum to their post.

39 minutes later…

Changes LinkedIn title to ‘SEO Guru’.

Linkedin Job now showing [enter new freelance agency name] and status update “Hey guys, after a wildly successful run with [ABC agency] and Ive decided to go out alone. All my hard work has paid off and if you could share my new business with your friends and any business owners who may need help with SEO”. This is teh exact word for word 5 out of the 6 people who did this used. Lame

Newly Self Crowned SEO guru: Creates paid SEO course based on MOZ and learnings/stolen IP from the agency they just left.

SEO guru: Sells course to 3 people for ‘ONLY $499’.

1 hour later…

Changes LinkedIn title to:

‘Expert SEO Guru & famous creator of ‘The Google SEO secrets – UNLOCKED and EXPOSED’ course. (Buy now for ONLY $1997.99)’.

Sadly this truth is real. This wildcard is now released out into the wild and will be advising businesses on how to spend their marketing budget and what direction to take their business objectives online.

I am having some post traumatic stress from cleaning up the mess of these people each and every week. There is no real business experience used in any of this. Its semi automated research from spy tools that guides their every move. Never in any of their recommendations and strategy if you can call it that reflects the business objectives and in market behaviours.

When you work with me you work with a fellow buisness owner, I have employees, I pay taxes, I have deadlines and customers just like real business owners. I have been in business for over 20 years and I can relate to your objectives of making more revenue while decreasing operational expenses.

Have faith in the process. I will find you the best keywords, the best targets, the best customers, audiences and gaps in the market to build momentum online. Thats my pitch and thats my ethos on doing good business. The choice to work with gimp in a fancy suit or a real world tactical specialist who understand business is yours. It starts with filling in a form here.

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