During a recent trawl of keywords to see if the Google Farmer update had started to affect UK websites, an interesting hole in Google’s UK SERPs came to light. This will benefit websites who are not scared of creating content, and who are not wholly focussed on using PPC or social media to achieve results.
Firstly, we need to discuss how users actually use the search engines, because it is by understanding this that the astute website owner can benefit.
For over 10 years now, the lists of most searched terms on the search engines have included both the names and domains of search engines and some of the most popular websites. This highlights quite clearly that many people are unaware of the location bar in the browser, and how the domain name system works. For a reasonably high proportion of searchers, the search engines are the first port of call to find anything, even if they know the domain name of the website they are seeking.
In addition to this, as the search engines have added more and more functionality, many users have failed to either notice these new additions or learn to use them as intended by the developers. So, for instance, whilst most people use the images, video or news options to locate specific items when searching, the options to use the Wonder Wheel or locate within a specific timeframe are not standard fare for your average searcher, unless seeking a particular item that was newsworthy yesterday, known to be on Twitter or in a forum.
Searching on high value but not top competitive keywords showed that there are many websites which feature on the front page of the SERPs which date back a considerable way, and many have remained unchanged for quite some time.
So, if we look at “video conferencing bandwidth” or “Dyson owner’s manual”, we can see that the first page generates results from as far back as 2001. Now, whilst these actual terms may not be relevant to your business, they are not particularly obscure long tail terms, and for every business there will be similar terms which generate results that can give opportunities for top page rankings with a long-life potential.
In fact, if we look at the reasons why some of these sites may be still ranking in the first three positions, we can see that there is an interesting issue here that website owners can capitalise upon when considering their internet marketing. Firstly, often these sites, because of their position at number 1-5, have garnered a substantial number of links to them. As part of the algorithm to decide search engine position, the search engines take note of how many times a link is clicked, how long people stay on the page (bounce rates etc), and backlinks.
Because these sites have clearly been around for a long time, their validity is ‘assumed’ and people continue to link to them, often it might seem without actually reading what is being linked to, or they would discover that the article or information could be considered to be out of date. This causes the items to continue ranking highly in the results. Newer articles or news items can be found by changing the timeframe you are searching, but this does not change the fact that the default organic results are throwing up old results.
And this is where the opportunity arises.
Creating content that is search engine optimised for three and four keyword phrases, which also provides valuable information to your users will give you the chance to be listed in the search engines, possibly for a decade! This content does not need to be a masterpiece, and can be produced for relatively low cost by a copywriter or expert in-house. However, writing even 200 words on a subject with sufficient keyword density and content value also gives you the chance to send out a Tweet, an email newsletter to your subscribers promoting five or ten similar pieces of content, submit a press release, update your status on Facebook or LinkedIn, add to relevant pages on Wikipedia, or open a discussion in a forum about your new content.
You cannot put up any content in isolation. All content creation needs to be part of a wider strategy so you are benefiting via multiple routes of promotion and exposure. However, as your general SEO campaign gains traction and your site moves up the rankings for your major keywords, these other pages of content will automatically be spidered and will help to feed into your wider SEM campaign, thereby pushing these pages of content higher up for their specific keywords and phrases in the organic rankings, that as we can see are ripe for the picking.
It is often the less competitive terms that are the easy win, and which can add juice to your site, but these are also frequently overlooked (as we can see by the two examples given) in the race to feature in the SERPs purely for the most competitive terms.