Spotting Trends for SEO With First-Mover Intelligence

Spend less and be more productive. Easier said than done, right? Not if you know where to look.

Competing for organic placement for tried-and true-industry terms is tough. Everyone seems to be optimizing their content for the same handful of terms. But if you can spot an online trend or upcoming buzz-word in your industry and quickly add relevant content to your site, you will have a crucial first-mover advantage over your competitors. Being the first to create content on a hot new topic gives you that little known competitive edge in organic results – just like domains that have been around longer, you may develop a “trusted” status. In addition, being the first out of the gate means that when everyone else jumps on the bandwagon, they’ll link to you to validate their own content.

We think of trends as most apparent in fashion or music. But even not-so-sexy industries have trends happening all the time. Keyword trends can be sparked by product launches, competitive shifts, or even broader economic changes. Or it may be that people are just using new keywords to describe the same old things. In the ever-evolving language of the Internet, this happens all the time.

Trend-spotting is an industry itself. But you don’t need a crystal ball to identify and understand shifts in keyword usage. Here are a few suggestions on how to spot the next big thing so you can create keyword driven content that puts you at the top of the organic listings.

  1. Mine your internal search results. You’ve heard it before – internal search data is a treasure trove. If you’re not already tracking internal searches, shame on you – it’s a great way to improve the user experience and it’s relatively easy to set up in Google Analytics or most major analytics programs. The up-and-coming terms you want to spot won’t be in the top 10 or maybe not even in the top 100. You need long-tail keywords that are moving quickly up the ranks. Most analytics tools have a feature that allows you to compare keyword traffic for different date ranges.
  2. Beyond your own site are sites such as Trendistic, which shows trends on Twitter. You can search for specific keywords and see how tweets related to that keyword trend over the past day, week, or month. If you’re in a consumer-driven industry, check out the “trending” section of your own Twitter home page. You can configure it to a few different countries and most major U.S. cities (helpful if you want to geo-target customers) and see what people are talking about the most.
  3. Use free tools such as Google Trends, the Google Keyword Tool, and Google Insights for Search. Google Trends shows you what’s popular now, lets you go back to see what was popular then, and allows you to search for specific terms. You need an AdWords account to access the Google Keyword Tool but you don’t need an active campaign (so it’s free). Google Insights for Search lets you really dig in and compare across categories, regions, and timeframes.

Once you’ve built new keyword-driven pages, you’ll need to spread the word. To do this most effectively make sure you engage in:

  1. Social media marketing outreach
  2. Link building
  3. Optimized internal links
  4. Updated XML sitemaps

Remember – only use keywords that are relevant to your site. Jumping on a trend just because it’s popular can quickly backfire.

So, try this out, and come and hear me speak at SES San Francisco August 16-20, 2010.

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