Niche, Keyword, Competition and Conversions

As an exercise in the dynamic topic of Search Engine Optimization, (SEO), an article was written and published on the Internet. The main topic was the sport of ice fishing. The main point of SEO is to establish content that matches particular niche areas of interest. In order to target a more focused niche, extra keywords were added to the article to sharpen the topic better. Since local searches are very popular on Google and similar services, the city of Elbow, Saskatchewan was described in the ice fishing article. This established a keyword which was estimated to be a target for a very narrow niche so that the published web page would have a good chance of ranking highly on search engine results. Keywords are important but finding a niche that is of interest to at least a few people is important as well. Putting these together is the key of SEO and success is measured by the performance of the article, whether that is with advertising or other customer interaction features.

What are Niche Keywords?
Fishing is a very broad topic, of course. Over 630 million results are returned when searching for this keyword. By adding additional terms, the keyword is focused. "Ice Fishing" returns just over 99 million results. These results indicate that the addition of the term "Ice" does not narrow the keyword into a true niche. To do so, searches using the keyword should return many fewer results. Note that positioning of terms in a keyword is important. "Fishing Ice" returns 163 million results. Note too that the keyword often matches Internet pages which may not be directly related to the sport. To further refine the keyword, advanced search engine options are used.

Examples of Searches for Niche Keywords
To get a true representation of the keywords, and whether they represent a niche, the following searches, with their results, were retrieved.

Fishing 630,000,000
Ice Fishing 99,000,000
Fishing Ice 163,000,000
"Ice Fishing" 8,000,000 Parenthesis added to focus the search
Allintitle: ice fishing 356,000
Ice fishing Elbow Saskatchewan 5,870,000
Ice fishing for pike 2,190,000
Ice fishing on lakes 5,330,000
Ice fishing in Canada 5,780,000

The distribution of the results shows that there are many millions of Internet pages that reference the ice fishing keyword. It is clear that adding additional terms radically changes the result set. This information, by itself, describes the competition for the keyword which is only half of the goal of SEO. Also of interest is the performance of landing pages. The search engine results show that competition is surprisingly high for the set of keywords. As such, a published article would have to be well positioned to attract a large viewing audience. For the "fishing" keyword, for example, a single published article would have to be heavily optimized to attract a large percentage of people searching for the keyword. Published content is likely not enough; other factors such as site authority, page links and more, are necessary.

Page Performance
In order to be effective, an Internet page must attract viewers who must interact with the page in a desired fashion. Pages published with the intent of providing direct results to search keywords are termed "landing pages". These typically offer viewers some type of bonus that accompanies the on page content. The bonus might be a sales offer, site registration, on page advertising or other element established by the publisher. Most Internet viewers have seen these in action. After a link is clicked in a set of search results, the viewer is presented with the landing page. This may have a special offer allowing the visitor to buy something that instant which is relevant to their needs. They may,instead, be given the opportunity to join the site which they can see is tailored to their search. The landing page may be more passive, merely presenting advertising which augments the keyword. With each of the landing page goals, performance is attained when viewers purchase the offer, register an account, view, (and possibly click on), presented advertising or interact in some other way intended by the site publisher.

Putting it All Together
Viewers of Internet pages may participate in landing page offers or not. The number who do, compared to the number of page visitors, is termed the conversion rate. This ratio is high when more viewers interact with the page. Depending on the offer, however, the page may be deemed successful when as few as 1 or 2 percent of the viewers interact. To gauge performance, publishers analyze both the number of page viewers and the value of the landing page offer. For the broad search term "fishing", a publisher will find that it is difficult to attract very many viewers. Those that view the landing page will likely be reluctant to participate in the offer. Such landing pages are likely to be unsuccessful. Landing pages that target a narrow niche, (like ice fishing in a particular location, may actually perform better, even if they receive fewer visitors. That is because each viewer is more interested in the niche and there are fewer Internet pages so competition is less.

How the Subject Article has Performed
The article published as a landing page for "ice fishing in Elbow, Saskatchewan" was active on December 11, 2011. In nine months it has ranked at position one or two in the search engine results for that keyword. The offer in the landing page was established as passive advertising. The conversion rate of the page is measured by the number of viewers who click on the presented advertising blocks. This form of measurement is termed the "click through rate". In the case of the subject article, the click through rate has been consistent with Internet publishing trends. Unfortunately, the subject article receives few viewers because the niche is too narrow. There are simply too few people searching for the keyword. Still, the object of the exercise was to establish a niche keyword, publish a landing page that met the niche and monitor page performance. Despite the low level of traffic, the article has been successful in the first nine months. This particular keyword is also seasonal so better performance is expected during the winter. As the weather cools in the next few months, the page should perform better.