Choosing Phrases for Off-Site SEOPosted on Saturday, January 24th, 2009 by Helen
A large part of off-site SEO – creating relevant text links from other websites back to the sites being promoted – is predicting which phrases people are most likely to search for on Google when they’re trying to find that particular product or service.
For example, when doing some off-site SEO for an estate agent in Wakefield, we must consider whether people are more likely to search for ‘Wakefield estate agent’ or ‘estate agent Wakefield’, or both to approximately the same degree. Then there’s the inclusion of the word ‘in’ – ‘painter and decorator york’ and ‘painter and decorator in york’ will yield different sets of results when submitted to Google.
Plurals are another variation to consider – although Google does automatically connect words to their plurals to a certain extent, there will be a difference between the results from a search for ‘landscape gardeners brighton’ and ‘landscape gardener brighton’.
So SEO decisions can be fairly complex, even when a website is offering one clearly defined service – someone looking for a York-based wedding photographer might search for ‘York wedding photographs’, ‘wedding photographer York’, or ‘wedding photography in York’.
When there are a number of different possible keywords, it becomes even more tricky. Take the example of a letting agent specialising in student accommodation – they want to be around the top of Google’s results for ‘student lettings York’, ‘student accommodation York’, ‘York student houses’, ‘York student letting agent’ etc.
Another consideration is locality – an interior designer in York may work both locally and nationally. It’s easier to become high up in a Google search for ‘york interior designer’ than simply ‘interior designer’, for which there will obviously be more competition – so it would seem more sensible to optimise the site for the ‘York’ search results, even though the designer wants to branch out into work further afield as well.
Some sites are developed for such niche-market products or services that it’s not immediately obvious what someone wanting them would type into Google. When searching for a company selling beds in York city centre, are people more likely to search for ‘York bed shop’ or ‘buy a bed in York’ – or even simply ‘York beds’ or ‘York bed stockists’?
I’ve been doing some SEO for a site which offers luxury camping holidays – a concept I hadn’t even heard of previously, but which obviously has quite a following – so have been implementing the phrases ‘cool camping’, ‘posh camping’ and a hybrid word which is completely new to me: ‘glamping’.
Another unexpected site was for a company selling mature trees and shrubs online – another idea new to me. This has been optimised for searches for ‘buy mature trees and shrubs’.
Getting the balance between the number of links from other sites using each of possible search phrases is a large part of off-site SEO. It’s possible to concentrate on one main phrase initially and then, when the desired results have been achieved, to switch to another. A company which has attained the highly prized number one Google position for ‘York chartered surveyors’ can further increase their website traffic by making any further links to their site say ‘York house valuations’ and other variants. Or geographical areas of coverage can be expanded: estate agents in Goole who have conquered the top slot in Google for ‘Goole estate agents’ can subsequently be linked to with the phrases ‘Howden estate agents’ and ‘estate agents in Selby’ to take in nearby areas as well.
Different products offered by the site can also be included – an ethical fashion boutique, having gained a high position for ‘ethical fashion’ might want to try improving its position in searches for ‘ethical shoes’ and ‘ethical jewellery’. In this case we may also change the page that the external links point to: if the site has a particular ‘ethical shoes’ page then the external links can go straight to the page itself, which will hopefully have been optimised for that term in its on-site SEO as well. Similarly, a site selling organic children’s clothes is now trying to improve its position in searches for ‘organic baby clothes’, with links pointing specifically to the ‘baby clothes’ section of the site.
All in all, there’s quite a lot to think about – and Google itself throws yet another element into the mix: search results will differ slightly depending on which browser is used, even when going through the same IP address!