Every business WANTS to be on the first page of Google so it stands to reason everyone business should be investing in SEO … right?

Alas, the honest truth is not all businesses are a good fit for Google for a couple of reasons. There are two main factors we look at when trying to determine if a prospect is a good fit for search engine optimization.

1). Keyword research / Volume

Since we are typically selling a “set” number of keyword phrases so we want to focus on the opportunity. The easiest way to do this is to find the right number of keywords for any given business/industry within the geographic areas they service. We then look at the intent of those phrases and the volume and try to find the right balance.

For example, let’s say our client is a dentist in Surrey. Here are the top 15 keywords as generated by Google for “Surrey Dentist”.

You can see from the list four keywords are fantastic–they have decent search volume and they have the right intent. Another five keywords are “possible” keywords depending on the services the dentist offers and where they may be located. Six keywords are not a good fit since it is typically not recommended to optimize a site for a competitor’s business name.

We typically like to think the more keywords we sell the better it is for the business but this isn’t always the case. If we sold this dentist 12 keywords we would be hard-pressed to find 12 keyword phrases that could/would actually help this business before the volumes or intent are compromised.

The temptation is to try to cast a bigger net which means we start focusing on keywords that really won’t benefit the business. For example, we might suggest focusing just on the keywords “dentist” which has high volume but low intent. The other temptation might be to include other geographies. The business tells us they get quite a business from New Westminster so we might suggest optimizing “dentist New Westminster” as a target keyword.

These are both bad ideas for a number of reasons. Targeting a “broad” keyword is extremely competitive and rarely results in improved traffic or conversion. Adding a different geography shows a misunderstanding of how SEO works. If a potential patient is in New Westminster and searches for Dentist Surrey we can presume they are legitimately looking for a Dentist in Surrey which would be one of our keyword recommendations. If that same patient searches Dentist New Westminster there is little intent for that patient to travel to another city for a dentist especially when there are so many closer options.

The key takeaway here is we simply want to do the best we can to align our keyword recommendations with our target audience. More is not always better.

2). Competition

Search Engine Optimization is ALL about getting on the first page of Google (let’s be honest; it’s really about getting into the top 3 spots). In order for this to happen we need to replace an existing site/page from the results page. So the real question is how hard and/or how quick can we displace a competitor. This is a crucial element of optimizing a site. We sometimes think a client or industry is an ideal business for SEO and if we just look at keyword research/volume we would be right… but once we factor in competition these opportunities are monumentally more difficult.

There are lots of industries that fall into this category but lets focus on one big one:

Real Estate.

Let’s say our client is a realtor in Burnaby. Our keyword research shows there are over 18,000 searches per month for these top 10 keywords –

These keywords have incredible volume and high intent. Although we never guarantee results we can only imagine how significantly business could/would improve if we able to get even a fraction of this traffic. We are so focused on the potential we forget how critical the competition is. In order to get our client to just the first page (let alone the top 3 spots) we need to beat the following sites –

1). REW.ca

2). RoyalLePage.ca

3). Zolo.ca

4). Point2Homes.com

5). Realtor.ca

6). Remax.ca

7). Zillow.com

8). Redfin.ca

9). Homes.com

10). Realtylink.org

We are not one to shy away from competition but we need to understand the question we posed earlier “how hard will it be and how fast can we expect results”. To answer this question we look at how many backlinks the top sites have compared to the business to see how much of a gap there is. This can often be consolidated into a “Domain Authority” score but sites like https://moz.com/link-explorer or https://ahrefs.com/backlink-checker can help us at least see how hard this might be.

For this example we used a realtor based in Burnaby and compared them to the #10 spot Realtylink.org (the bare minimum we would need to bump them from the 1st page).

MOZ shows the business has a DA (domain authority) of 15 vs. RealtyLink with a DA of 40. The real focus would be the fact that the client has 1,688 external links vs 943,769 links … so we would basically need to close the gap on almost 1,000,000 links to just “catch up” to the #10 spot.

In case you are wondering, according to aHref, Rew.ca (the #1 result in the Google results), has 3,942,789 backlinks and a DA score of 66 –

So we could legitimately be looking at needing 4,000,000 links to displace the #1 spot.

It would be hard to make an exhaustive list of uber-competitive industries but eCommerce and Tourism could also fall into these categories. At the end of the day, it’s just important to do some keyword research and then look at Google to see how competitive the 1st page of results are.

We offer a complimentary SEO audit that can help us better grasp these elements all we need is 1-3 competitors and 5-25 keywords.