Everyone wants to rank number one for trophy keywords within their industry.  What they fail to realize is that rankings for these terms is not always the best.

While traffic sent to your site is important it isn’t nearly as important as conversions.  Think about it this way, would you rather have 10,000 visitors visit your site and only 50 convert or have 200 visitors and 100 convert?

Traffic is important but conversions should always be your top focus.

Ranking For Trophy Keywords

Trophy or ‘money’ keywords are what I refer to as any keyword that drives a ton of traffic but is also extremely competitive.  I have already mentioned that traffic does not always equate to high conversions but some people don’t seem to care.  When you’re attempting to rank for trophy keywords it’s very important to analyze your competition.  Below are three things you must look at:

  1. Competitor Site Size – Take a look at the top 5 websites ranking for your trophy keyword.  How many pages do they have indexed?  Is it substantially more then your site?  Granted size doesn’t have a direct effect on rankings but typically the larger the site the more authority it can generate.  Site size may not be an element but site authority is a ranking element.  If your website has ten pages and all your competitors have thousands of pages you know that you could be at a serious disadvantage.
  2. Competitor Links – Links arguably have the largest impact on search engine rankings but it’s not a ‘more equals better’ algorithm.  With this in consideration it’s still important to see how many and what type of links your competitors have. Are all of them simply ‘www’ domain links? Do the links contain keywords within the anchor text?  Are they “no-follow”?  All of this has a direct effect in the value of each link.  If your competitors have significantly more links and are of higher value then yours you should know that it will be difficult to rank for this keyword.  This is a very important analysis to conduct before you go after your trophy keywords.
  3. Frequently Updated Content – This goes hand in hand with site size but I believe it’s important to have its own bullet point.   What type of frequently updated content does your competition offer?  Do they have a message board? Blogs? Articles? All of these are fantastic sources for frequently updated content.  Most of the time it’s these articles, blogs, and message boards that help generate the quantity of links that a site may have.  Also make sure to note what type of content they are writing and who is linking to it.  If you can improve upon what they already have then you too could gain links through frequently updated content.

Trophy Keyword Alternatives

You’ve done the research and you finally realized that it’s not in your best interest to compete with the big boys.  What else are you left with? You would be surprised how much easier it is to focus on ‘long term’ or ‘long tail’ keywords.

Instead of ranking for the keyword “shoes” you can focus on “size twelve Nike shoes”.  Yes these types of keywords may not drive as much traffic as the trophy keywords but it definitely brings in more qualified traffic.

A more qualified lead increases your chances of making a conversion, which should be everyone’s priority when trying to sell a product/service.  The best part about ranking for ‘long tail’ keywords is that if you find enough of these easier to rank keywords you can drive just as much traffic to your website then focusing on a single trophy keyword.

Set Your SEO Ego Aside

A lot of pride can be placed on a top ranking trophy keyword.  However the goal is to drive traffic and most importantly convert the traffic into customers.  Don’t let your ego get the better of you.  Know what your website offers and its strengths.  Use keyword research tools to compare your site to your competitors and sit down and figure out the best strategy available to you.

If you know that you aren’t going to be able to compete with the big boys then don’t fool yourself.  It might just be a waste of your time attempting to rank for these trophy keywords as your competitors already have a big lead.

Don’t get me wrong, anyone can rank for any keyword it’s just how much money, time, and hard work they want to put into their campaign.  So set your SEO ego aside and truly decide which route is best for your site.

Nick LeRoy is the Search Marketing Specialist at Minneapolis Web Design firm DKS Systems.  DKS offers award winning web design and development that can be very SEO friendly.

The following two tabs change content below.


SEOsmarty.com accepts random contributions from close friends

Similar Posts


  1. Create a Website says:

    Excellent explained Nick 😉
    When people read this post, many of them will give up or change keywords 🙂

  2. Laura Jennings says:

    Excellent post! SEO Ego seems to get in the way of so many people who ignore the little niches and therefore miss out on them. It’s much better in my opinion, to start off with long tail keywords first and then the more competitive ones will get easier to compete with when your website has more presence.

  3. Laura you are correct!

    It’s funny I remember looking for keywords when i first very started and saw the traffic ‘ecommerce’ brought. It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t the best for my site. Gotta learn from your mistakes!

  4. Juan Johnson says:

    As newly born SEO working for a car and yacht transportation company its been very hard to come up with other keywords different than synonymous.
    Any suggestions on how to creatively come up with new keywords? Thanks! Useful post. Got me thinking more than usual!

  5. Great post Ann! I cannot tell you how much time I have spent talking clients down from the trophy keywords. Its hilarious for small companies that have a few thousand transactions a year thinking that ranking for terms that get hundreds of thousands hits a month makes any sense for their business.

    Well done.

  6. free seo tools says:

    Very truly said Ann, But most of the time it’s hard to make your client understand these things

  7. Thanks for yet another first-rate article. I am always searching for super WordPress tips to recommend to my own readers. Thank you for making this article. It’s exactly what I was searching for. Truly terrific post.

  8. free seo tools says:

    @Juan : I understand your point but being a newbie you should first concentrate on less competitive keywords in order to fetch instance audience. Yeah, Once you reached certain level you should go for more competitive keywords/keyword phrases.

  9. thanks for sharing the great idea, it was a great help really helped a lot in enhancing the knowledge, keywords really do play a major role in making the site known as keywords are the backbone in link building… thanks for the info, great job.

  10. “Traffic is important but conversions should always be your top focus”

    This pretty much sums up seo. Its a gradual process that should be developed as you go on over time. It’s is recommended you get the end objective clearly in place and gradually work towards it.

  11. free seo tools says:

    @Fresco : SEO can online bring traffic, Conversation depends only the quality and service of firm

  12. website design montreal says:

    Very nicely and well written article

  13. This article is so true. Don’t compete with the big boys because there are still alternatives like the much-loved long-tail keywords. The Google adword keyword tool can help you with this.

  14. Hi Nick!

    Great post idea!

    I’m always talking to people about prioritising conversions over traffic. After all, there has to be a return, right,if you are going to invest in SEO or any other form of online marketing?

    But there are exceptions…albeit unfortunately sometimes.

    Potential clients approaching SEO agencies will often actually expect to see them ranking well for keywords that industry professionals might not think convert. For those who have no experience of SEO, there tends to be the; “Well if you can’t rank your own site for such and such a keyword, why should I believe you will rank mine?”

    Then there are brand awareness campaigns too… where a client genuinely knows that their choice of keywords won’t convert… but who want the high traffic associated as a brand awareness campaign. It can be effective too.

  15. I agree that traffic and conversions both are important, but traffic only brings visitors to the site.

  16. hi,Ann:
    May I have you msn account!I want to chat with you,Your article attracts me!I am a seoer yet.and I am a chinese.lol

    (Please forgive my poor English,and I really carefully read your article )

  17. air shox nz says:

    It looks good,I have learn a recruit!

  18. Here, here! Thanks for mentioning the importance of conversion over traffic, Nick!

    @Juan Johnson – you may need to settle for less competitive keywords first, as opposed to yacht/car transportation or logistics – are there particular geographic locations your company caters to? you may want to try adding the geographic location to your keywords and see how the competition fares for those.

    Hope that helps – Cheers!

  19. UltraNebs says:

    Excellent, but perhaps not timely? Google Instant is changing search so drastically that the long-tailed keywords may now be much less effective than they were just 3 months ago? Whaddya think?

  20. Good article. It is easy for us SEO consultant’s to get caught up in the challenge of obtaining placement on highly visible keywords.

    This is a good guideline for newbies and a reality check for seasoned marketers. Quantity isn’t always better than quality.

  21. Excellent blog. Really useful to those with big seo egos

  22. Thanks for the post. Great information here. Shared with the Calvert Creative friend on Facebook and Twitter. Again, thanks.

  23. I agree with this article wholeheartedly. So many people are concerned with just traffic that they forget to look at conversions. Even though google instant might be changing how important the long tail keywords are I believe they are still very important in any seo strategy.

  24. Great article, Nick! I think a lot of people get discouraged by the thought of trying to compete for the coveted keywords and forget that niches and micro-niches are as effective in online marketing as they are in offline mediums. Laser beam focus on what brings YOU results, because you will never be all things to all people.
    Keep up the great posts! 🙂

  25. TheSeoPortal says:

    Agree that even try to rank on keywords like money or trophy is enough to prove you are out of mind and you only want to care about traffic and leads doesn’t matter for you.

  26. I would say always go for balance personally. Some long tail, some short. No single words obviously. This way as with all things SEO you should strike out on the averages and produce improvement for your URL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.