This factor is obvious. The higher the monthly search traffic, the better. Consider the key phrases below:
Fig 1. A comparison of high traffic keywords versus relevancy.
“Alkaline phosphatase” has by far the most traffic, so it is the obvious one to pick. Right? Well, actually a life science specific SEO specialist may consider picking “alkaline phosphatase staining” depending upon the relevance of the keywords to the page that is being optimized…
Sure, targeting the keyword with the most monthly search traffic seems appealing, but how relevant is that keyword to the page you are optimizing? In the above case, if you were optimizing a page of Alkaline Phosphatase Staining Kits, then a keyword like “alkaline phosphatase” would be far too general.
Fig 2. Google algorithmically ranks organic searches by searcher intent.
One of the major things to consider when choosing a keyword is the searcher’s intent. What is the searcher looking for when he/she searches “alkaline phosphatase”? A good assumption would be that they are looking for general information about the compound and enzyme. A look at the Google SERPs will tell you more:
As suspected, the top 2 results are Wikipedia pages giving general information about the enzyme. The remainder of the first page results are pages about the ALP Test, which are not relevant to staining kits.
Google has done an excellent job at configuring its algorithm to show search results that match the information that the searcher is looking for. The above results indicate that users searching alkaline phosphatase” are not looking for alkaline phosphatase staining kits. As a result, if these searchers landed on a staining kits page, they would click back or bounce to find the information they are looking for. A high bounce rate will result in lower rankings (more on that in later points).
Consequently, it would be wiser to pick a more relevant keyword like “alkaline phosphatase staining”.
It may even be worth considering targeting a longer tail keyword like “alkaline phosphatase staining kit”, which has only 10 searches/month. Of course this is very low traffic. But again, think about the searcher intent! A user searching for this keyword is clearly looking to buy a staining kit. Ranking number 1 for this keyword could be way more valuable than ranking for “alkaline phosphatase staining”, where searchers may in fact be looking for the staining method or protocol.
Which keyword you choose out of the two would be a matter of preference, but there are 2 more major factors that will help with your decision…
When choosing between a selection of keywords, checking the competition in the search engines is a key step. An easy way to measure yourself against your competition is checking your Domain Authority against theirs.
Domain Authority (DA), in a nutshell, is a score out of 100 based on an algorithm developed by www.moz.com. It shows your likeliness to rank for a keyword. You can read more about DA here.
You can check the DA of each competitor in the search results manually using a tool like the Domain Authority Checker. A seamless way is by using the Moz SEO Toolbar.
If you have a website with a DA of around 20-30, and all page 1 results for your target keyword have DA 60+ (as search engine dominant companies like Thermofisher, Sigma and Abcam do), then it is not likely that you will rank if the content you produce is similar to theirs. If they are not effectively optimizing the target keyword however, or you know that your content is going to be significantly better, you could be in with a chance.
If a competitor with a low DA is ranking on the 1st page, then go check out their content and learn why they are ranking.
The next thing to check is where your domain is currently ranking. The best and quickest tool for this is Moz Rank Tracker which is free with a Moz Pro subscription.
If you are currently ranking #12 for a keyword that you are not optimized for, then optimizing for this keyword will likely push you to page 1.
Another reason to check your current rankings is because another page on your website could already be ranking. If this is the case then you may not want to disturb that ranking and create competition by optimizing another page for the same keyword.
Our client Vector Labs wanted to rank the below Lectins page for the keyword “lectins”, which has an avg search traffic of 14,800. Pretty good!
We found that Vector’s Lectins and Glycobiology Reagents page was already ranking #12 for “lectins” and therefore this page (rather than the Lectins page) should be optimized for that keyword instead to push it to page 1.
Considering the Lectins page was in fact a page for Lectin Binding Assay products, we chose to optimize the page for the very relevant keyword “lectin binding assays”. This keyword only has 20 searches/mo, but these are searchers looking to buy these assays.
Fig 3. An example with VectorLabs and preventing keyword cannibalization.