Keyword Research – Traffic vs Competition

I’ve written a lot about keyword research before.

My post about How Good Is Your Traffic? and Qualifying Your Visitors both talk about why less traffic is sometimes better than more traffic. This goes against typical online wisdom, which holds that the more traffic you get the better off you are. This leads people to target the highest traffic keywords possible.

That’s a bad idea, for a couple of reasons.

High Traffic Means General

High traffic keywords are general keywords. They’re high traffic because they apply to a variety of search queries. For example, the keyword “shoe” gets more traffic than the keyword “red shoe”. But the more general keyword “shoe” includes people searching for “blue shoes”, “black shoes”, “dress shoes”, and even “free shoes”. The keyword “red shoe” is far more targeted, and likely to lead to a sale.

Targeting specific keywords is very important for increasing your conversion rate.

High Traffic Means More Competition

Usually, higher traffic keywords have more competition in search engine rankings. Lots of sites will be trying to rank well for those general keywords. Even the more specific high traffic keywords will have a lot of competition, as people try to monetize that traffic.

Competing in such an environment takes time, effort, and often money. Toss a web site up and do nothing else with it, and it will end up on page 20 of Google for competitive keywords. Do the same thing for a non-competitive keyword, and the site can end up on page 1.

Would you rather have a vanishingly small percentage of a large amount of general traffic, or a high percentage of a smaller amount of targeted traffic?

If you answered the high percentage of a smaller amount of targeted traffic, congratulations! You’re on your way to doing very good keyword research.

3 Replies to “Keyword Research – Traffic vs Competition”

  1. Hi Sam, you can get a good idea using Google’s keyword tool. See my Keyword Research Tutorial for some of the details. To estimate competition, use a Google search with allintitle:”keyword”, where you replace keyword with your keyword phrase. That’ll tell you how many sites are specifically targeting that phrase.

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