SEMrush: a valuable tool?

SEMrush is a tool that is marketed as offering competitive data for digital marketing professionals. It’s a piece of software that we’ve used regularly in recent years and have come to know pretty well.

We’re not big on doing long-winded reviews, but we thought that you might be interested in receiving some insight into how SEMrush works and whether it could be useful to your business. So let’s start with the basics:

Subscription costs

You can access a very limited amount of data on SEMrush free of charge, but you’ll soon find yourself in need of a subscription, in order to access more data. At the time of writing, there are 3 main options:

  • Pro @ $69.95 per month
  • Guru @ $149.95 per month
  • Business @ $549.95 per month

We’ve quoted the monthly prices here, although there are discounts available to those looking to make an annual commitment.

As you might expect, the higher the subscription rate, the more features that you’ll receive. At the basic level (Pro), you get:

  • 10,000 results per report
  • 3,000 reports per day
  • 5 projects
  • 500 keywords to track
  • 100,000 pages to crawl
  • 5 scheduled PDF reports

If you’re operating a single website, then that’s likely to be sufficient for your needs. It’s also a level that will be right for smaller digital agencies, although you do need to be aware that you can’t get your own branded reports on this basic package.

Key functionality

What does SEMrush allow you to do? The core functionality enables you to get insights on particular domains, including comparisons to competitor websites.

Here, for example, is an overview report for John Lewis:

What you have here is a snapshot, showing how the John Lewis website ranks for top organic and paid keywords. You then have the opportunity to drill down to access more information.

Here we have the main screen when drilling down to look at organic performance in more detail:


What you start to see at this level is the real detail of how the site ranks, where traffic is being derived from and the value of that traffic. This is great information if, for example, you are looking to reverse engineer the approach of a competitor.

You can quickly identify their target SEO keywords, get some estimates on how much traffic they see from those positions and also start to look at trends. As you’ll note from the above screenshot, we’re concentrating here on UK rankings, but it’s possible to examine performance in a variety of markets.

You can jump across to look at the live SERPs too, enabling you to see precisely how everything is shaping up right now.

A detailed Position Changes report allows you to look at movement on target keywords over a period of time: you can see where competitors are gaining ground. It may be, for instance, that they are targeting terms that you’ve not thought to target. The software allows you to start building up a picture of how a competitor is performing.

The Competitors report is also particularly useful – you can see where different businesses are targeting the same search terms. For example, the report tells us that Debenhams are currently ranking on more than 103,000 keywords that are also being targeted by John Lewis.

As you can see, you can gain an insight into competitor performance quickly and easily. The real power of such software, however, comes from data manipulation. We’ll be talking about that, together with paid search analysis capabilities, in our next blog post.

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The rise of e-commerce in the UK

How much of an impact is e-commerce having within the UK economy? How many millions of pounds are being spent online each year? They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and we certainly believe that this image tells its own story:

UK e-commerce growth since 2008

Follow our series on the growth of e-commerce within the UK to get insights into what the future may hold.

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The UK e-commerce success story

More is bought and sold online in the UK than in any other nation in Europe. What’s the secret to the UK’s e-commerce success story? Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be taking a closer look at the history of online sales in the UK. We’ll examine the key businesses at the forefront of the digital sales charge and we’ll also look at what the future may hold.

In preparing this series, we’ve relied upon a mixture of market research, established datasets and interviews from key figures within a variety of industries. We look forward to offering a real insight into e-commerce today.

Quantifying e-commerce growth

We may have an understanding that online sales have been increasing year-on-year, but the data paints an interesting picture of what has been going on. In 2008, the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) produced a set of statistics on UK e-commerce sales. At the time, they estimated that UK businesses had made approximately £334 billion of sales that year.

By 2014, the sales figures had risen sharply. The ONS suggested that an impressive £592 billion of sales had been made online in the UK. In the space of just 6 years, e-commerce had grown at a rate of some 77%.

A report in the Guardian (from July 2008) indicated that British shoppers were spending 17p out of every £1 online. Impressive sales figures from the likes of ASOS, Ocado, Mothercare, Primark and Harrods were noted within the report, while mention was also made of the fact that mid-market stores were finding it more difficult to attract customers.

But this period from 2008 to the present day includes a number of years when the UK economy has been in a difficult position. Has that actually held back e-commerce growth? Certainly, back in 2008, there were already suggestions that the credit crunch was causing problems for some online retailers.

By February 2009, however, the overall picture was clear: the BBC were reporting that there had been a 13% increase in online sales, when compared to the same month of the previous year. The IMRG Capgemini Index of online sales indicated that there had been a 5,000% growth in e-commerce between 2000 and 2009. By comparison, high street sales had seen a growth of 21% during the same period. What was fast emerging was a success story that was catching mainstream media attention.

The poor economic conditions that continued to hold in 2011 didn’t appear to be restricting online sales growth, with IMRG reporting 18% growth in the first quarter of 2011.

The availability of mobile devices with impressive internet capabilities seems, if anything, to have added even more energy to the growth figures. In the next part of our series, we’ll discuss how online performance varies by sector.


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Mobile versus desktop: why it matters to your business

Earlier this year, Google announced that mobile search queries had overtaken those being carried out on desktop devices. The announcement came as little surprise, with the search engine giant having spent some time flagging up the rapid rise in mobile search.

It was only a matter of time before this point was reached, but how prepared is your business? Have you invested in ensuring that you are delivering the best possible experience for mobile visitors?

The rise of the smartphone

As smartphone technologies have improved, many mobile devices have become better at rendering standard web pages. But we’ve all experienced the frustrations associated with visiting sites that simply don’t function properly on a mobile or tablet. That may mean struggling to see the site in its full glory, or more critical problems: visitors may find that they aren’t able to navigate through your site or even complete the on-site contact form.

The first stage in the process should always be to check out how well things are functioning. That will inevitably mean running checks on multiple devices, running multiple operating systems and browsers. Although this can be time consuming, it is time that is well spent.

If you’re failing to present users with an acceptable experience, then you can be sure that you are losing out on business. Those visitors will be drifting off to the websites of competitors and you can be sure that rivals will be snapping up the leads that you are missing out on.

If you find that you are lumbered with a website that simply doesn’t provide a decent experience, then you’ll need to consider your options, which broadly fall into 3 categories:

  1. Make improvements to your site in order to ensure that it functions correctly. Whether this is a realistic approach or not is likely to depend upon the specifics of your site. A large-scale overhaul will often be more expensive than starting over.
  2. Create a brand new, responsive site. A responsive website is one that is designed to work well across a wide variety of devices and browsers. Cutting edge web design techniques ensure that your website is able to respond to requests and to serve the best experience.
  3. Create a separate website for mobile users. We’re seeing this technique used less and less, with an increasing number of website owners opting to build responsive sites instead. But there are occasionally good reasons for building a separate site in this way.

The rise of mobile has caught some business owners by surprise. It’s important that you do take action, in order to secure future leads. If you’re spending your advertising budget on attracting visitors to a website that simply isn’t performing, then you are undoubtedly wasting money as things stand.

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Adwords Tips: Getting Different Ads To Show For Different Keywords

Does your Adwords account currently rely on showing the same ad (or set of ads) for every single keyword? That’s probably bad news for a number of reasons, including the fact that it’s unlikely that you ad will appear to be the most relevant one that’s being presented to many searchers.

Why should that be a concern? Primarily because you’ll be faced with a low Click Through Rate (CTR), which may in turn lead to a low Quality Score and increased costs per click. In essence, the entire Adwords systems tends to reward ads that perform well. By the same token, it punishes those that fail to do so.

What this all means is that it’s likely that you’re missing out on clicks and paying more for each visit that you do receive. That’s not a great combination. Fortunately, it is pretty simple to fix.

Dynamic keyword insertion

One solution is to make use of dynamic keyword insertion, which essentially seeks to insert the keyword (or phrase) that’s been searched for into your ad. This can work well, dramatically increasing the relevance of your ad to those carrying out searches.

But you need to consider a few potential pitfalls. What happens, for example, when someone enters a really long search string? In these cases, it won’t be possible to include the phrase within your ad, so you’ll need to set a default. The syntax for achieving this is:

{keyword:Default phrase}

It should be noted that you can also do some more powerful stuff with keyword insertion. As an example, you can dynamically include keywords within a broader set of text. So you might use:

Buy {keyword:Default phrase}

You can probably see how that could neatly be integrated within ad descriptions, rather than simply using the headline. There are also some advanced features that allow you to control whether or not your ads make use of capital letters.

Using highly targeted Ad Groups

The rookie mistake that some advertisers make is thinking that they should group dozens of keywords within a single Ad Group. That’s a technique that makes it incredibly difficult to create targeted ads.

There are plenty of reasons why people choose to approach things in that way, including a lack of knowledge about Adwords and the realisation that this can be the quickest approach. When it comes to Adwords, however, the quickest route is rarely the best.

It makes far more sense to break down your keyword lists, so that you have a handful of keywords in each Ad Group. You can the tailor your ads so much more easily, meaning that you’ll end up with ads that truly appeal to searchers.

Pro tip: combining approaches

You may like the sound of dynamic keyword insertion and realise that there are also benefits associated with making use of many more Ad Groups. But here’s a little inside tip to getting the best results: combine the two approaches.

If you make use of highly focused Ad Groups and create ads that use dynamic keyword insertion within them, then you’ll get the best of both worlds.


If you’re trying to display poorly targeted ads, then you certainly won’t be getting the best possible return on investment from your Adwords campaigns. Instead of allowing that situation to continue, spend time creating ads that really pack a punch.

As this article has explained, it needn’t be difficult to take an approach that will yield serious results.

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Conversion Rates explained

Conversion rates play a central role within online marketing, but why are they so important? In this blog post, we’d like to take a look at the meaning of the term, together with some practical examples of why you should pay attention to your conversion rate statistics.

What does it mean?

So, what is a conversion rate? In essence, it provides a way of measuring the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It represents the proportion of website visitors who you are able to “convert” into customers or contacts.

The exact nature of a conversion for a site will vary. Taking an example, for an online retailer, a conversion may simply relate to a sale. If 100 visitors reach the online store, but only 1 of them makes a purchase, then you have a conversion rate of 1%.

It’s not always the aim, however, to make a direct sale from every single visit. Examples of other goals might include:

  • Getting a visitor to give you their contact details.
  • Encouraging someone to sign up for your newsletter.
  • Getting a visitor to download some software, or a specific document that you are providing.

The type of site that you are operating, together with the objective that you are looking for, will have an impact on the conversion rates that you see.

Why should you care about Conversion Rates?

Conversion rates have a role to play in all aspects of marketing activity, from SEO to social. The impact of conversion rates is most easily illustrated in the case of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and you may already be familiar with Google Adwords.

Let’s take a closer look at the impact of specific conversion rates, using a relatively model. We have a hypothetical scenario as follows:

An online retailer is selling a service from £200. In order to advertise the service, they are making use of Google Adwords on advertising. On average, they pay £1 to attract each visitor to their store.

Let’s assume that they have a Conversion Rate of 1%. Based on 1,000 visitors reaching the site from Google Adwords, that would mean that they would expect to see 10 sales. They will have paid £1,000 for the advertising and will have produced £2,000 worth of sales as a result. That doesn’t sound too bad and means that they have doubled their money.

What would a slight change in Conversion Rate mean? Well, let’s assume that the Conversion Rate moves upwards, reaching 1.5%. That doesn’t sound like a big change.

Now, let’s look again at the figures: those 1,000 visitors are still attracted at cost of £1,000, but the increased Conversion Rate means that we now expect to see a total of 15 sales. Those sales would have a total value of £3,000.

So, with a Conversion Rate of 1%, that £1,000 spend produced £2,000 of sales (leaving a notional profit of £1,000).

With the Conversion Rate at 1.5%, that £1,000 spend produced £3,000 of sales. That gives a notional profit of £2,000. In effect, the seemingly small movement in Conversion Rate has led to a doubling of profits.

What happens if the Conversion Rate hits the heights of 5%? In that situation, the cost of advertising remains constant at £1,000, but we would now expect to see 50 sales. The total value of those sales would be £10,000.

When people start talking about Conversion Rates, it can seem like a fairly minor metric that’s under consideration. What the above examples show, however, is that it can have a massive impact on the performance of your marketing campaigns. Improvements that appear, at first glance, to be pretty minimal can actually transform your income and profit levels.

What Conversion Rates are reasonable?

It’s useful to be able to benchmark against others within the same industry, although there are some problems associated with doing so. The most obvious issue is that your competitors are unlikely to want to share such sensitive data.

A number of studies have been conducted, with the specific aim of identifying average rates acrosss sectors.

Marketing Sherpa produced some stats on Conversion Rates across sectors. These suggested that comparable rates were as follows:

  • Professional or Financial Services: 10%
  • Media or Publishing: 10%
  • Miscellaneous: 8%
  • Education or Healthcare: 8%
  • Software: 7%
  • Technology Equipment or Hardware: 5%
  • Manufacturing or Packaged Goods: 4%
  • Travel or Hospitality: 4%
  • Retail or Ecommerce: 3%
  • Non-profit: 2%

As they note, part of the explanation for the differences here comes from the fact that there may be some deviation in what is seen to count as a conversion.

The Ecommerce figure (towards the bottom of the list) undoubtedly attracts some attention too. Some work carried out back in 2012 suggested that UK Ecommerce Conversion Rates were averaging out at around 4%. Interestingly, there was also considerable evidence of high rates of shopping basket abandonments. In fact, 8% of all website visitors place something in the cart, but only 4% complete the checkout process.

That abandonment rate suggests that the checkout process itself can certainly have a significant impact on Conversion Rates. Our own experience also suggests that there are considerable differences within the retail sector: buying a mobile phone cover (to take one example) may involve a more immediate decision than is associated with buying a luxury watch.

What impact does the rise of mobile have?

We know that more and more users are accessing sites on smartphones and tablets. So what impact is this having on Conversion Rates? The short answer here would appear to be that Conversion Rates on such devices are considerably lower.

Looking at mobile Conversion Rates in the sporting goods sector (across both smartphones and tablets), for example, we see a lowly rate of 0.69%. Such figures may be a concern, particularly if you have spent a lot of time and money optimising your website for mobile visitors. Was that responsive design really worth the money?

Before you become too despondent, it’s worth remembering that many people search and browse on mobile devices, before making a purchase using a laptop or desktop PC. The reality is that the mobile-version of your site is likely to be contributing to the overall success of your business in this way.

How can Conversion Rates be improved?

We’ll looked at why Conversion Rates are important and we’ve given considering to some industry benchmarks. Looking at your own site, you may see room for improvement. But how exactly do you go about making changes that will truly offer benefits?

We always like to talk in terms of removing barriers. If visitors to your site are constantly encountering barriers to purchase, then it’s likely that they’ll start to look elsewhere. The more barriers that you can remove, the better the chances of generating a sale. Let’s take a look at some specific barriers that may be in place:

  • A site that is not secure. If you’re expecting customers to hand over payment details, then you really need to be able to reassure them that your site offers a secure experience.
  • Difficulties associated with navigation.
  • A failure to provide reassurance via contact telephone numbers and business address details.
  • An overly-complicated checkout process.
  • A lack of information regarding deliveries and returns.
  • A failure to produce enough information about products and services.
  • An absence of quality images.
  • A failure to answer common questions about products and services.
  • A lack of clarity on prices.
  • A website that fails to function properly across platforms, browsers and devices.

Listed above are just some of the factors that can contribute to reduced Conversion Rates. Once you have made improvements, however, it’s clear that you’ll be in position to reap the rewards.


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Google Adwords: does it offer you value for money?

There are plenty of businesses, large and small, seeing great results from Adwords campaigns. But it’s also true to say that numerous small businesses experiment with Google Adwords, before concluding that this style of advertising simply doesn’t work for them.

Why should there be different outcomes? Is it possible that Adwords offers a cost-effective approach for some, but not others? Based upon our own experiences, we would say that a number of factors need to be considered at an early stage.

The quality of your site, services and offer

The reality is that if your site fails to generate sales when receiving visitors from other channels, then it’s likely that you’ll face similar struggles when using Adwords. Conversion rates are all important here, making a massive difference to the returns that you are likely to see. Indeed, they can make the difference between a profitable campaign and something that simply won’t work for your business.

If you have a low Conversion Rate, then you’re going to end up buying a lot more visitors for your site, in order to generate a volume of sales. That’s unlikely to prove profitable.

It’s critical that your site should be functioning well, before you start to spend money on Adwords.

Get the campaigns set up properly from the outset

The initial weeks of an Adwords campaign will undoubtedly involve some level of experimentation. That’s to be expected, given that part of the approach will involve gathering data and tweaking the settings that you are using.

It’s not an excuse, however, for failing to create an account that follows best practice guidelines. That means thinking carefully about negative keyword lists and ensuring that the basics are all in place.

The Display Network

Let’s be honest here and say that Display Network advertising doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re seeing a lot of your budget heading out in this area, then it’s worth looking closely at the sort of returns that you’re getting back as a result of this spend.

Track everything!

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to get tracking installed properly. I mean Google Analytics, Adwords Conversion Tracking and anything else that you want to throw into the mix. The more tracking that’s in place, the better the outcomes.

If you don’t know exactly how visitors act, having clicked on specific ads, then you’ll never be able to target your budget effectively. This is the biggest difference between successful Google Adwords campaigns and those that struggle.

Be prepared to experiment

I’ve made mention of the need to experiment and you’ll need to accept that you won’t see a return from every single penny at the outset. In part, that’s where Adwords vouchers can help, providing some of the cash for the experimentation phase.

You need to experiment with keyword selections, but you also need to think about your site. Could you use multiple landing pages? How about testing different variations? It’s only by testing that you will see if improvements can be made.


An Adwords campaign should never be a static entity. It needs to be created in the appropriate manner, but you’ll also be required to tweak it on an ongoing basis.

There are clearly some products and services that don’t sell so well online, or specifically via Adwords. Our experiences would suggest, however, that most do. If Adwords isn’t producing value for money for your business, then it’s probably time to re-think your approach.

Search South are Google Certified Partners.

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SEO round-up: 28 January 2014

What’s been happening recently in the world of SEO? Our round-up of recent news is intended to provide you with a great shortcut to all of the best information relating to search engine optimisation and internet marketing.

We’ve put in the leg-work to find the very best info, so that you can sit back and relax. What we’re presenting below is your essential reading list:

Why old sites might lose positioning

We start with the latest video presented by Matt Cutts of Google. It can sometimes seem like older, established sites have a real advantage within the search engine rankings. Indeed, if you’re competing against an old rival, then you may well wonder whether it will ever be possible to overtake them.

This insight from Matt suggests that old sites won’t always retain positioning. In essence, he notes that the stable nature of such sites shouldn’t always be seen as offering an advantage.

Google warns about thin content

It can sometimes seem like Google is issuing warnings on an almost daily basis. This latest segment considers those sites that make use of thin content.

I think it’s interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, we may well appreciate the fact that such warnings are often followed by significant algorithm updates. For affiliate sites, where thin content is in place, that might be a cause for concern.

It’s also useful, in terms of reinforcing a message: great content will take your site a long way. It’s absolutely critical, however, that such content should be interesting, meaningful and exclusive to you. If you’re simply copying content from elsewhere, without really adding to it, then you should probably be prepared for a fall.

Moz industry survey results

Necessary reading for those of us within the industry. As we might expect, the importance of content marketing takes centre-stage.

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Guest posting: why it’s so effective

The Google Penguin algorithm updates have transformed the way in which many SEO providers think about the approach that they take to link building. It’s also clear, having read a number of leading forums on the subject, that there’s an enormous amount of confusion around.

These levels of confusion aren’t just associated with small business owners. It’s fair to say that many SEO analysts and consultants are struggling to come to terms with Google’s changing emphasis. What is clear, however, is that the focus simply must be on creating links from quality sources.

Create great content on your site

Having made mention of creating links, I’m almost immediately going to go off on something of a tangent and stress the importance of attracting links. That’s something that can’t possibly be achieved, unless you take good care of the content that appears on your site. It’s no longer enough for you to outsource content creation overseas, in the hope of generating a particular quantity of pages. Those days have long since disappeared.

Instead, you need to think about how every piece of content reads. Will your latest article be interesting to site visitors and prospective customers? If not, why have you decided to play it there in the first place? If you are in that habit of writing content that is intended to appeal to search engines, rather than human beings, then I’d suggest that it’s time to change your approach.

Having great content in place ensures that you have dealt with this fundamental building block. The very best link builders struggle to attract links to sites that fail to offer something that’s unique for visitors. With this in mind, it may be time to review the written content on your own site. Seek to make improvements and look to write articles that are truly engaging.

Attracting effective links

But enough, for now, about the importance of what you place on your own site. How can you go about attracting some great links? In order to achieve this, you clearly need to reach out to other website owners and members of the wider online community. There are many ways of doing this but guest blogging represents an effective means of producing results.

The great advantage of guest blogging is that it allows you to gain relevant links on authoritative websites. When examining services offered by the likes of Endurance SEO, I also note that reputable guest blogging experts seek to really engage. There’s an acknowledgement that guest blogging is about so much more than simply looking to gain a few links: the focus should be on building an audience.

Bringing about a change of approach

This is where it’s also important to change your mindset, switching from that focus on the quantity of links that you can gain to a consideration of the value of individual links. It’s also been true that a single great link is better than thousands of low quality links. Unfortunately, many link builders have struggled to identify what quality really means.

There’s no longer any scope for such confusion to be allowed. Looking at the way that updates have occurred during the course of 2013, it would be reasonable to expect that updates in 2014 will also seek to place an emphasis on the value of links that are being accrued. For those who are busy concentrating on numbers, rather than measures of quality, this will undoubtedly be bad news.

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Hampshire SEO: why target your local area?

Good SEO is all about providing targeted visitors to your site. By focusing on getting the right people on to your site, the process can be expected to produce the enquiries, leads and sales that you require.

Within the context of this approach, it’s clear that it’s critical to make the correct keyword selections at the outset. When considering the keywords that you intend to target, it’s necessary to think carefully about the following aspects:

Search volumes

Many people examine search volumes, but don’t put too much more thought into the keyword selection process. You’ll certainly be looking to select terms where a reasonable number of people are carrying out searches each month.

There’s little point in choosing keywords that only receive the occasional hit each year, in most cases. For those low traffic terms, it’s also suggested that minimal SEO effort is usually involved. A long as the content on your site reflects such keywords, it’s likely that you’ll gain visitors over time anyway.

Ideally, you’re looking for terms that offer a reasonable level of potential visitors each month. If you’re using Google’s Keyword Tool, then you’ll find that it defaults to broad match keywords. That’s an issue because the figures that are produced are likely to be over-estimates in the case of most SEO campaigns.

There are 3 match types listed – broad, phrase and exact match. In order to understand the information that’s provided by the Keyword Tool, it’s useful to understand what each of them actually means. Let’s take an example and suggest that you are interested in selling red shoes.

The exact match figures tell you how many people search for red shoes in a given month. These figures would exclude searches for buying red shoes, or ladies red shoes. They only consider the exact match term.

With phrase match, extended searches are considered that include the phrase red shoes. This means that the figures would include searches for:

red shoes
ladies red shoes
buying red shoes online

They would not include searches for finding shoes that are red, since that phrase does not contain red shoes.

So what about broad match? In this case, the figures would include searches for a wide range of related terms, some of which wouldn’t even include the phrase red shoes.

It’s possible, as a result, that the figures might include searches for finding shoes that are red. They may also take into account searches for buying shoes, or other generic search terms.

This has clear implications, when you are carrying out keyword research. In fact, these concepts are important to the entire SEO process.

Typically, the broad match figures will be higher than the phrase match numbers. These will, in turn, be higher than the exact match figures. But the exact match searches will often result in traffic that will convert well.

The exact match stats will also give you an accurate picture of how many people are searching for the specific phrase (in this case, red shoes) and how many potential visitors might be derived from an SEO campaign.

Does this mean that you should use the exact match figures, when estimating visitor numbers? You need to bear in mind that you’ll almost certainly receive a higher profile on a range of related terms, meaning that your target audience is much more likely to mirror the phrase match figures.

There’s another point to remember here: even if you reach the top of Google’s rankings, you won’t receive 100% of the visitors that you might expect. That’s because plenty of people will click elsewhere. If you only ever reach the bottom of page two of the results, then you may discover that you only receive a tiny proportion of the clicks that are available to you.

Relevance of search terms

As well as thinking about the terms that are used often by search engine users, you need to consider whether those searchers are likely to become buying customers.

This is something that will take practice, before it can be perfected. You need to understand that some website visitors will still be in the research phase and will have no intention of purchasing right now. In fact, they may never go on to make a purchase.

Ideally, you want to be targeting those who are expecting to buy online at this moment in time. If someone searches for buy red shoes online, to take an example, then you might suppose that they are close to making a purchase. They would seem to represent the ideal customer.

Levels of competition

Google’s Keyword Tool shows a figure (and wording) for the level of competition that you can be expected to face. Many analysts use this information, when composing SEO campaigns.

There should, however, be a word of warning at this point: the competition figure reflects the number of Adwords advertisers, rather than the situation within the organic search results. Although there may be similarities between the two, this should not be assumed.

In order to establish how much competition you will be facing, you’ll need to take a closer look at the competing websites that are in place. Some key questions to ask might include:

  • Is there evidence of on-site optimisation?
  • Have competitors been actively building links?
  • Do they add content regularly?
  • Are they actively engaged via social media channels?

By understanding the level of competition that you face, you can expect to get better results.

Why focus your efforts locally?

When you think about the process of targeting keywords, you come to realise that focusing on nationwide terms will often mean that you are faced with a highly competitive market.

You’ll be trying to rank for terms that are attracting the attention of many other companies. Even when you do manage to gain positioning and attract visitors, you may find that they don’t convert very well for you.

In short, the risk here is that you spend a lot of time and effort on gaining better positioning. Once that’s been achieved, the results may still be disappointing. The key issue here is that you end up with an SEO approach that is not particularly cost-effective.

This piece started by asking why you should specifically target Hampshire. The reality is that, for local small businesses, looking to target in this way can produce more effective results.

Although the potential audience is much smaller, it’s clear that you’ll be facing a lot less competition. What that means is that you can soon gain a foothold within the online marketplace. Having done so, you have the freedom to expand and to look to target a wider audience.

It’s usually much easier to scale up from this starting point, rather than seeking to focus on nationwide SEO and then being forced to change cause at a later stage. Local SEO makes sense in most cases because it delivers results.

By Keith Barrett

Posted in Local Search, SEO, Small Business SEO | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Hampshire SEO: why target your local area?