You’ll note that here we’re comparing three different websites in the same basic industry (in this case, online videogame sales). They all tend to have about the same traffic right now, but you can also see that the newcomers game.co.uk and gog.com have clearly gained some marketshare at gametap.com’s expense. There’s another competitor in the market–a big one–called steampowered.com, but it’s so much larger that it makes the rest of the competitors on this graph unreadable. We’ll do some research on them, but they’re not shown above.
So: what have these brands done with their content? Well, let’s pretend that we’re the bottom man on the totem pole here (games.co.uk) and have decided that we want to spice up our content so that we can make up some of the gap between us and our competitors. Clearly Gog.com has been doing it right, and gametap.com has, perhaps, not been. Let’s do some research on each of these sites and see what words bring them traffic. How do we do that? Well, as always, there are easy ways and there are cheap ways. We’ll focus on the cheap one, for now.
WHat browser are you using right now? Is it Firefox? If not, then go and get Firefox from the Mozilla foundation right now. The reason you’re going to want to download Firefox is that one of the very best tools for researching content marketing, SEO Books’ Firefox Extension, requires that you have Firefox. So go and get both of those.
Now let’s head to gog.com and turn the SEO Book extension on (look for the grey SEO logo in the lower right corner of your browser window). Right click anywhere on the page and highlight SEO for Firefox, then click on SEO Xray:
(Yes, this is a screencap of me running Firefox and Google Chrome simultaneously. I have my reasons, I do).
Immediately, we can see some interesting information from the Xray by way of telling us what their meta tags are. Gog.com has a heavy emphasis on “free (something)” keywords in their meta tag descriptors. Gametap, which has been losing marketshare, has very different keywords in their meta tags: tags like thier own domain name (which you should be able to rank for without the help of any meta tags) “online video games,” “buy games,” “leaderboard games”, “Atari 2600 games,” “Commodore 64 games,” “NEO GEO games”….and so on. A lot of these are very niche terms. For example, the Google Adwords Traffic Estimator says that “NEO Geo Games” nets about 12k searches a month, whereas one of gog.com’s later keywords like “free PC games” is a search that pulls in over 300k a month. If you’re looking to compete in this marketplace, you should be looking at the power of “free” in your content, clearly.
Industry leader steampowered.com doesn’t have any meta keywords or descriptors at all (which, strictly speaking, isn’t necessary for anyone). They pull ahead of the pack because there are nearly 5.5 million inbound links to them, so they’re going to rank well on a lot of search terms just because of that. What kind of search terms does steampowered.com rank well for? Well, let’s keep the SEO Book tool on and take a spin around the block on Google. Search for steampowered.com. Under your usual search results, there’s a block of light blue text with a lot of numbers, most of which will likely make no sense to you whatsoever. That’s okay, in later classes at CrowdTamers, we’ll talk more about this tool, but for the moment let’s focus on just the Y! Page Links on the second row. Click on the blue text and a new window or tab will appear with a search like “link:http://store.steampowered.com/ -site:steampowered.com” on yahoo.com. You’ll see a lot of search results there (Yahoo’s pulling in about 1200 results for that search when I run it at the moment). Look at what kind of links steampowered is getting: all of the inbound links are for individual games, which makes sense. If you search for “pc games download” or “free pc games”, steampowered.com doesn’t rank on the first few pages of Google, which means that it doesn’t exist for all intents and purposes. Steam makes their money from selling newer games at full retail price for download, whereas gog.com and games.co.uk have different markets.
So after all this analysis of keywords, which is something you’d normally associate with SEO, we know what it is that our competitors are using to bring traffic to their site. Which of these keywords applies to you? Which ones represent business directions that don’t apply to your business? Write down a list of what applies to you, both the words that you find your competitors using and words that are unique to yourself.
Now that you’ve done the research of what your audience looks for, let’s think about identifying them more fully. Where do they hang out? What are their demographics? Look up your keywords on Technorati, see what blogs and bloggers are getting your audience’s interest. Ideally, you should be a member of your audience yourself (or know someone who is) so that you can muster the passion to serve their needs. Devote some time to writing down who will want to read your content. Let’s continue our example from above: if I had a pc games download website, I’d try and write content that appealed to my niche of video gamers. Do I mostly sell shooting games? That’s the under 18 and male crowd. Do I sell social flash games like Farmville or Mafiawars? Those are very (very, very) popular with women in their 30’s and 40’s. Do your research to see who out there wants what you have to sell, and how many of them there are online buying on sites like eMarketer, Pell Research, Marketing Sherpa, and others. This is invaluable in helping you to evaluate your goals later on in this process and correct them if you think you need to.
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