So, your SEO maven hooked you up with optimized landing pages, but they’re relatively orphaned. (Nobody’s linking to them much, not even you, from your own site.) Should you link to them from your other site pages, like from your blog? Yes. …And no.
Intralinking Case Study (Hypothetical)
Keyword: blue widget
SEO Landing page: …/blue-widget/
Obviously, you mention “blue widget” on other pages too. (If you don’t, get on that. You’ll never rank for a keyword if you only mention it on one page; Google can quickly suss that you’re trying to game the system by optimizing a single page for a keyword.)
Are you selling widgets? Presumably, you have one or more “blue widget” product pages, too, whether or not you’ve opted to make them text-rich pages. (Content is king. Your product pages should be troves of information, but unfortunately some brand identities don’t allow for that.)
So you blog.
You should blog. Be an expert in your field, publicly, often.
You mention blue widgets in a blog. …Hell, you write a blog post about blue widgets. You’ve used several variations on your core “blue widget” keyword in that blog. How can you best use those keyword iterations as link anchor text to other content on your site?
Head to Google.com
Type this in the Google search field:
site:[yoursite.com] [the keyword you’re trying to boost]
…Swapping for your domain and your keyword for the [bits in brackets].
If your blue widget SEO landing page is new, it probably won’t be toward the top of that list yet. You should then definitely link to that blue widget landing page to get it some traction. But what if your landing page is #4 on the list, and a few of your product pages take the top three spots?
Keep it Natural
Sometimes, link to the blue widget landing page. Sometimes link to one of the product pages. We want to tell Google that our whole stinking site (or at least considerable chunks of it) are good pages for them to consider for blue widget Google search results.
So, I should link to several of my pages from my blog?
Maybe a couple. Sometimes just one. Often, not at all, unless you have a good reason to. Blogs shouldn’t be salesy or pitchy. Blogs are for engaging, not selling.
With rare exceptions, I highly recommend against linking to a singleresource multiple times from a single page. But similarly, don’t pack your blog post full of links to every related product and page.
It’s ham-fisted. If your content is overstuffed with links, people can quickly see that over-stuffing; they’ll likely feel like they’re being “advertised at” so to speak. …Google’s even more keen at that assessment; Google knows when you’re stuffing all of your content with links. Keep it natural. (Somewhere between zero links and ‘too many’ links, on average—that’s your goal.)
Anchor Text Variation
Mix it up. Don’t always use “blue widget” verbatim to anchor the link to your other “blue widget” content. “Our blue-tinted widgets…” is fine anchor text. Do you use a synonym for “widget”? (whatever your ‘widget’ is!) Using that synonym as part of anchor text is a great idea! Not everybody searches the same way, and the more ways you’re able to describe your products, the better.
Linking to third party URLs?
Yes. If your brand manual allows it, definitely link to relevant third party content sometimes, or even often. Just don’t link to your direct competitors. No need to help them!
Most of my clients’ blogs do NOT intralink to their own content from their blogs, but they do link to interesting content on other sites from their blogs. That’s best practices, if you can afford it.
Be aware of your keywords when you’re blogging.
Note that most of your blog posts don’t need to link to your own content, but if you’re a brand-strong blog, (i.e. an inbred blog, or otherwise unwilling to link to other sites from your blog,) and that works for you, (lucky,) you can err on the side of always linking to your own supporting content.
site:yoursite your keyword – is the syntax to find out what pages Google likes already. Don’t fight Google, just nudge them.
Don’t always link to the same page; pick a few to regularly reinforce.
Mix up the anchor text, too, if it makes sense.
Linking to other sites is fine. But consider adding “nofollow” to sites you don’t want to help.
Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and UX. He also likes making noise with other musicians.
I used to rank #1 in Google for uncool. Not so much anymore. My uncool site is wallowing WAY down the ranks. If you have a blog or a page, please toss uncoolcentral a link with “uncool” as the anchor text. I’ll hook you up with a link too. Or maybe I should be happy with things as they are. I.e. isn’t it even more uncool to not rank highly for “uncool”?
That uncool site helped me stumble into the world of SEO. I was so excited when I first found that I ranked well for “uncool”. The excitement faded (a little) then I started to wonder, “Why do I rank well for that phrase?” That was over a decade ago. I didn’t immediately begin doing SEO. I didn’t even know what SEO was. I figured it out and used my SEO knowledge to rank well for other phrases too.
Or how to get started in SEO
Eventually friends at marketing agencies and friends with businesses started to ask me how I ranked well for competitive phrases. Then they asked me if I’d do it for them too. If you want to start a career in SEO consider the same path; demonstrate quality SEO on your own sites and talk about your successes. If you do something (useful) well enough people will ask you to do it for them too. They might even pay you!
Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and usability. He also makes music in a number of projects and types about himself in the third person. …Which makes him uncomfortable the more he does it. Seriously, try it some time. It gets creepy after a while.
One day “searches” means one thing. The next day it means something else. I got no apology from Wordtracker. I had to eat crow and throw out a few mea culpas to my clients when I realized that Wordtracker had pulled the rug out from under me. Boo. But it gets worse.
Wordtracker Changes KEI Formula
My $329/yr subscription just expired so I renewed. It had been a while since I used the service and Wordtracker neglected to tell me that since the last time I’d used their service they changed the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) formula. I thought I was buying one thing and Wordtracker delivered another.
KEI used to be a great metric to find low hanging fruit or “keyword gems in the rough” if you will. But the metric is now useless for that. Click the image above for a larger version. You can see that the most generic, high traffic, high competition phrases now have the highest “KEI” – and yes, “KEI” should always appear in quotes from now on until… well, maybe forever.
Though they offer great verbiage about what an improvement it is, Wordtracker’s new “KEI” borders on meaningless. Surely somebody at Wordtracker should know that when you combine data inconsistencies with poor communication and terrible documentation, usability will suffer. Apparently the usability and branding experts at Wordtracker haven’t been speaking up.
Comparison of KEI Formulas
Wondering how to determine KEI? Me too.
Typically KEI is the the ratio of the square of the searches upon a particular keyword in a day divided by the number of websites that are listed for that keyword. For example, a keyword that has 100 searches a day and for which Google shows 5000 websites would have a KEI of 2. (100 * 100 / 5000)
Suppose the number of searches for a keyword is 486 per month and Google displays 214,234 results for that keyword. Then the ratio between the popularity and competitiveness for that keyword is 486 divided by 214,234. In this case, the KEI 0.002.
For that one, the formula is: KEI = monthly searches / SE listings
Suppose the number of searches for a keyword is 821 per day and Google displays 224,234 results (pages) for that keyword. Then the ratio between the popularity and competitiveness for that keyword is: 224,234 divided by 821. In this case, the KEI is 273.
And those jokers say that: KEI = daily searches / SE listings
Those are the first three definitions I found. I’ll bet there are more. Clearly the jury’s out on KEI. But while contradiction abounds, there’s a common thread in defining KEI. It has always related to the quantity of searches and the number of search engine listings.
So what’s the new Wordtracker definition for KEI?
Maybe we should start with the old Wordtracker definition of KEI
KEI compares the Count result with the number of Competing Web pages
Yep. That seems to be in line with what everybody else says about KEI. In case you were wondering, “count” is, “The number of times the search phrase has been used in Wordtracker’s partner search engines.” And “competing” means, “The number of Web pages the search engine says it has in its index that match the search phrase.” So more specifically the old Wordtracker formula for KEI was
Is that searches per day? Per month? Who knows? The only other information Wordtracker provides on its data results pages about its new KEI equation is
KEI compares the number of times a keyword has been searched for with competition (the number of pages that contain the exact keyword phrase within at least one of its incoming links, known as ‘All in Anchor’).
Does the “In Anchor” include only external pages? Or will a page with an internal “In Anchor” link make the cut too? Tough to say. Wordtracker regularly defines things their own way. While I’ll not poo poo innovation, I take umbrage with my data providers when they skirt industry norms. If Google defines a metric a certain way, clearly it is beneficial to follow the leader. Note to Wordtracker: Don’t confuse your users by regularly creating new definitions for established industry terms. Your poor usability is a disservice to your paying customers.
In Anchor And Title IAAT
Wordtracker founder and CTO Mike Mindel says
‘In Anchor and Title’ is a count of the number of pages for which the keyword appears in both the title tag and the anchor text of at least one backlink to the page (not domain).
Understandably this metric is used to help identify serious competitors. But Google measures parts of this metric differently. Back to Mike Mindel
There are two reasons why [Wordtracker] and Google show different numbers of links for seemingly similar searches. The first is that the [Wordtracker] In Anchor metric shows a count of externalanchor text (from other websites), whereas Google includes internalanchor text as well (from within a website).
‹rant› If internal In Anchor links are good enough for Google they should be a sufficient metric for Wordtracker. Wordtracker tries to sell you on why its better to use their more specific metric, but aren’t all search engine optimizers essentially trying to play Google’s game?! Why wouldn’t Wordtracker emulate Google metrics as much as possible? Clearly they’re meaningful. Something more specific isn’t always better. Furthermore, why would you use the same terminology to discuss two separate things? ‹/rant›
Wordtracker’s Mr. Midel goes on to say,
The second reason is that Google’s AllInAnchor returns broad matches by default (the words mcdonalds, nutrition, and facts in any order), whereas Wordtracker uses the In Anchor phrase match count (mcdonalds nutrition facts somewhere within the anchor text).
(See previous ‹rant› .) Mike Mindel continues,
I hope you can see now that bigger numbers clearly do not mean better numbers.
Well, Mike, I hope you can see now that I’m not sold on your new (bigger) KEIs being better than the older, smaller KEI figures. And doesn’t Wordtracker try to sell us on bigger numbers being better? (See next paragraph.) Now I’m confused(er).
Back to Low Hanging Fruit
This new KEI formula doesn’t do much to help SEOs find keyword phrases with low competition and reasonably high traffic. It’s more tailored to high traffic phrases. Mark Nunney of Wordtracker says,
“KEI squares Searches because otherwise if both Searches and Competition (whatever metric is used for this) go up at the same rate then the KEI value remains the same and that will not take into account the increased opportunity that more Searches offers.”
I don’t know… I always thought that popularity proved only popularity itself. (Think: MC Hammer.) I also always thought that KEI was to represent some notion of ROI. Big returns aren’t valuable if the investment doesn’t make sense. Even my largest clients benefit from low hanging fruit and the small investments required to conquer them. Just because one has the deep pockets necessary to go after high traffic keywords doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective path. Mull it over. Easy pickings are more valuable to me than the garbage these new Wordtracker metrics provide.
I wrote an email to Wordtracker explaining that I want a refund. But I haven’t sent it yet. I looked for wordtracker replacements. There are a few that are too expensive for me to even consider. (We’re talking $1000 per client per year.) But I found a few tools that provide good data. They are:
I’ve also heard decent things about marketsamurai.com/ but I haven’t tried them yet, so no endorsement or link out.
The sad truth is that I think I might get enough value from Wordtracker to warrant sticking with it. After all, I can dump all of the data to CSV and make my own versions of KEI to get the data I want. That’s nice, but that’s not the point.
Wordtracker sucks. They keep changing the definitions without notifying customers which causes Wordtracker’s usability to suffer. I am searching for Wordtracker alternatives. Let me know when you find a good one. I’m willing to pay for a wordtracker replacement.
Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and usability for companies large and small. He whines a lot on this blog. Sorry.