How you strategically approach your own unique search marketing landscape may be the first of many decisions you make on your search marketing journey but it is also the most important. A difference of inches when aiming the arrow can translate to feet downrange.
SEOs often approach selecting target keywords with a strict “I’m-going-to-focus-on-the-keywords-with-the-highest-search-volume” mentality, while others favor a ‘flavor-of-the-day’ mindset and center on the keywords their CMO cares about most at the moment.
An often overlooked strategy for keyword building is to focus on those in striking distance position—keywords ranking on page two of the search results. Moving striking distance keywords can be less challenging than those already on page one. And, keywords on page 2 are in prime position to move into high visibility positions, and unlike keywords on page 3 or higher, moderate upward movement of these keywords can mean substantial increases in traffic.
Not All Rank Movement Is Equally Impactful
Take the example of a keyword searched 500,000 per month for which you are ranking in position 11. By utilizing Slingshot SEO’s click-through curve, we were able to estimate the increases in search traffic experienced after rank movement; an improvement of 5 positions (from 11 to 6) resulted in a 273% increase in traffic while the same 5 position movement from 21 to 16 resulted in a marginal traffic increase of 50%. This difference in traffic gains for the same rank movement is due to the uneven distribution in how users click on search results and becomes a phenomenon that savvy search marketers can leverage with a bit of focused analysis.
The Technology-Enabled Strategic Approach
So how does one access this lower-effort, high-impact category of keywords? Those who use basic rank-tracking software will have to work for it, achieving the appropriate segmentation with some fancy Excel footwork. Recent advances in SEO technology, however, have enabled marketers to better zero-in on target keyword sets by employing automatic segmentation. Those in the enterprise who have access to a full-featured SEO platform will be privy to automatic keyword segmentation of search ranking and have these striking distance keywords readily available at their fingertips.
Striking Distance or Strike Out
Regardless of what technology you end up using, marketers who view their search visibility through the lens of striking distance keywords and action on the insight with on and off-page optimization activities will be in a position to grab some quick wins. Long-term strategies can be developed concurrently for more competitive keywords, ensuring a well-rounded SEO strategy.
A version of this article was originally featured at Search Engine Land on June 18th, 2012.