Why am I writing a web design article about good sheets? After all, sheets, good or otherwise have very little to do with web design, in fact, I can’t really think of a connection. This article really isn’t about good sheets at all, it’s really about choosing effective search engine keywords. I recently saw an ad in our local newspaper where a web design firm was boasting about how they managed to get a customer ranked number 1 in Google for the keyword “good sheets”. My first reaction was, does anybody want “good sheets”? Maybe when people lay down at night they want the feel of fine bedding, or luxury linens, but is this country becoming so mediocre that we would settle for good sheets?
That’s what I set off to explore. First I looked at their major claim, that they ranked their client number 1 out of 27,000,000 sites. So I went to Google, typed in good sheets, and saw that Google actually listed 34,600,000 sites for good sheets. I have to admit though, that on the day that I looked, their client’s site did show up number one. I was impressed. Not only did Google find more sites in the days since the web designer did their search, but 34,600,000 sites just about good sheets. That’s a lot of sheet, good or otherwise. But wait, that number, 34 million, is the number of sites that Google found that had either word, “good” or “sheets” in the site. Now good is a pretty popular word, so it’s easy to see how there could be 34 million sites that mention the word good in them.
If you really want to see how many sites use the exact phrase “good sheets”, then you need to type it into Google’s search box in quotations, just like this: “good sheets”. Do that and you’ll find that they list around 18,000 web sites. Quite a bit fewer than 34 million, and still a large number. But are these sites all about good sheets as in bed linens? Reading the descriptions on Google’s site it appears that most of them are about good sheets. People writing tips about pleasing your girlfriend by buying her good sheets, making sure you wash the good sheets when you have guests, that sort of thing.
The real question though that I wondered, are people really searching for “good sheets”? For that I turned to the tool that most web masters turn to for keyword research, Wordtracker. This company gets compiled results of searches performed by millions of people at various search engines and provides a way to analyze not only how many times a keyword phrase is searched on, but also how many sites are competing for that term. It’s also eye opening to find out what other meanings your phrase may have. More on this later.So I went to Wordtracker and started off by typing in good sheets. Their database returned five different search phrases that included both those words. Interestingly enough, none of the phrases were the exact phrase of “good sheets” I was looking for. So it was safe to say that nobody was searching for good sheets. The search phrases it returned were:
|Search Phrase||Number of Searches|
|good reviews on carlton sheets no money down||5|
|evanescence’s good enough music sheets||3|
|how to tell good quality sheets||3|
|are sonoma sheets good quality||2|
|music sheets for good enough by evanescence||2|
Looking at these search phrases, the first one mentions carlton sheets. Thinking it was a brand of sheets, I thought they must be pretty expensive if they offered no money down options to purchase them. But searching for them through Google, it became obvious that it was a misspelling of Carleton Sheets, who is a guy selling a real estate investment program.
The second and fifth entries were for people looking for sheet music for the song “Good Enough” by the band Evanescence. Definitely not people looking for bedding.
That leaves only the third and fourth entries as having anything to do with good sheets. Combined, these two search terms amounted to 5 searches. Really, only the people wondering how to tell good quality sheets would have been good prospects. But if you type in that exact search phrase into Google, you’ll find the results have nothing to do with good sheets as they relate to bedding.
That’s why it’s so important when doing keyword research to keep these three principal in mind:
- The keyword phase must be something that your customers are actually going to type into a search engines’ search box. It does absolutely no good to be ranked number 1 for a phrase nobody is searching on.
- The keyword phrase should not be too generic. Most keyword phrases these days need to be at least 2 words, and preferably 3. If your phrase is too generic you are going to have too many other companies competing for that phrase, and likely there are bigger and better financed companies that are going to be tough to overcome.
- The keyword phrase should relate to your business. It wouldn’t matter if millions of people were searching for “good sheets” if what they were really looking for was sheet music and not bedding.
Whether you’re going to do your own Search Engine Optimization or if you choose to have your web master do it for you, it’s important to do your research first. Otherwise you may find yourself without a bed to lie in.
Addendum: May 2008
I received this email from Bill Watch, who apparently knows how I can sell a lot more “good sheets”! I was tickled to be his “favorite” and I’m sure he’s going to do my wonders for my business since he understands it so well.
All kidding aside, this email is a great example of the type of company you want to run from. His recommendation includes using link farms, a definite Black Hat tactic that can hurt your rankings rather than improve them.
Date: May 28, 2008 5:10:21 PM PDT
Subject: General questions or comments from web site
Please find below a message submitted on 2008-05-28 at 17:10 by IP = 188.8.131.52
fullname: Bill Watch
address: 8721 Santa Monica Blvd
city: Los Angeles
comments: I visited your website and had a question
I was looking at websites under the keyword carlton sheets and came across your site aestheticdesign.com . I see that you're ranked 33 on page 4.
I'm not sure if you're aware of why you're ranked this low but more importantly how easily correctable this is.
There's no reason you can't have a top three ranking for this keyword based on your site structure and content. You have a very nice site.
You need significantly more one way anchor text backlinks. If you're interested I can help you with this...
I'm talking about getting you ranked for ALL your keywords. Adding new backlinks on a steady and consistent basis from high PR quality websites is what produces the rankings you are looking for.
The right kind of links are very critical in getting top ranking....and I can hand deliver these quality links to you.
My partners and I own 1000's of websites and offer private linking to hundreds of website owners just like yourself.
I didn't send this email out to thousands of people but I am currently reaching out to a list of your "keyword competitors" as well. But you're my favorite and you are the one I really favor and the one I see can monetize the targeted website traffic this can deliver.
I have your contact info as: phone (707) 786-4643. Is it ok if I give you a call?
I have a very simple way to prove that what I do works and it's risk free for you to try. Nothing beats seeing the results with your own eyes.
Is it ok if I give you a call? I would love to pursue this further over the phone with you or should I go somewhere else?