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Determining Keyword Complexity in SEO - Part 1

Posted on 5.18.2008

What are the factors that influence the difficulty of achieving high rankings on certain search terms and phrases? As you can imagine, "difficulty" is a moving target with many factors but over time professional SEO's have uncovered a few primary indicators. Over the next few days, we'll explore how you can determine keyword SEO complexity for your own website promotions. We'll start today off with two factors, the number of searches conducted each day, and the number or results that appear when a query is performed.

- Number of searches for the previous day:
Most SEO's have had clients that say they would like to be first on popular search engines for obscure search phrases/keywords such as 'North Dakota weather widget'. Savvy SEO's will say "OK, no problem". If no one is searching for a particular word or phrase, then it's usually pretty simple to achieve high rankings. With some basic on page optimization and a handful of inbound links you'll get there pretty quickly. Those keywords with more searches are obviously going to be a little more difficult. If you don't know how many searches the keywords you are optimizing for are receiving, then check out the free keyword suggestion tool at WordTracker.Using this tool we found that the keyword "widget" results in over 3,000 searches a day, "weather widget" had 90 searches per day and "North Dakota weather widget" had, you guessed it, zero searches per day.

- Number of total results appearing upon query:
There are no hard and fast rules in determining keyword complexity in search engine optimization, but one of the ways that SEO's can quickly determine how hard it is going to be and consequently how long it is going to take is to look at the number of results returned upon conducting a query. All popular search engines provide this information at the top of search results (see below). The best way to use this information is to compare two search terms or phrases in an apples to apples comparison. For example, "north dakota weather widgets" has 19,200 results, while "widgets" has over 92 million results. The perfect fit for this SEO campaign may be to focus on weather widgets.

Tomorrow we'll look at how to use specific search commands such as "allintitle" to determine keyword complexity.

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