SEO: a puzzling work of art & science

SEO: a puzzling work of art & science

SEO: a puzzling work of art & science

 1.2 million. It’s a pretty impressive number, eh?  The keyword that can make lots of money.  I recently did a Google Keyword search and found that on average, across Canada, there are 1.2 million searches for the term “mortgage.”  To be clear, these are searches on for the keyword (search term) “mortgage” on a per month basis.  Imagine how much business you’d get just by having some of that traffic visiting your site.  It would be great to even turn a small number of those searches into traffic and ultimately business.  More visits should ultimately result in more opportunities to close a deal and secure a mortgage for a client.  But really, does that sound right?  Could there really be 1.2 million people looking for a mortgage every month?  If there really are then by default shouldn’t you be seeing more traffic and more business on your site?  I’d like to help de-mystify this number and help shed some light on the realities of who’s looking for a mortgage and how to effectively direct relevant traffic your way.

Broad search terms can be misleading

 The first thing we need to do is understand these 1.2 million searches.  Have a look at the Google Keyword Tool screenshot.  I’ve selected “broad” search results on the term “mortgage.”  What this means is I want Google to include search volumes for any variation of a keyword that includes “mortgage.”  Examples could include: mortgage analyst, mortgage rates, get a mortgage, etc.  Maybe not everyone is looking for a mortgage, maybe they have other mortgage-related questions that need answered?  Sure, some keywords might make sense but a “broad” search result gives us any and every variation of a keyword that used the word.  

As a mortgage broker, you’re probably aware that not all keywords are going to drive relevant traffic to your site – relevant meaning people who are looking for a mortgage and need a mortgage broker’s services.  Are you looking for everyone and anyone to visit your site with the hope that someone would be interested in contacting you?  Or are you looking for potential new customers who found you based on getting to your site via relevant keywords?  OK, we might be going somewhere now.  If you’re looking to attract new customers then you’ll want to be more concise with the types of keywords you’d like to be found for.


Keyword relevancy matters

  Now we’re getting deep into things.  We can all agree that it’s important to drive relevant traffic to your site.  The first question you’ll probably ask at this point is “what is a (relevant) keyword?”  A keyword is the one you have typed into the Google search bar seeking a list of results that match what you’ve asked for.  A relevant keyword goes a little bit deeper.  It could mean adding a location; i.e., “mortgage broker Toronto” or being yet more descriptive; i.e., “interest-only mortgage’.  Here’s the key question: do you want to be found for a keyword that might possibly be related to you or would you rather show up for a keyword that is precisely something that you do and offer?  This is where we start getting more relevant.

How do I appear for the right keywords?

  Of course the next question will ultimately be, “how do I show up for the right keywords?”  This question, if asked to the right Search Engine company, can start a very lengthy education session.  Let’s be short and simple for now so that we don’t lose anyone along the way.  What we are talking about is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  It basically means optimizing your website for keywords that are important and/or relevant to your business.  In order to “show up,” it’s important to be able to rank on Page One for the keywords that are relevant to your business.  To do this, two things will be necessary:  1. Make sure all of your on-page factors are set appropriately and 2. An effective link-building strategy is put in place.


On-Page Optimization

  On-page factors cover a lot of different things that you as a site owner can control.  It means things like title tags (the short line of info you see at the top of a browser), H1 Tags (the “title” of the page of your site), the URL structure, content and more.  Think of on-page like getting ready to run a marathon.  It’s like putting on your running shoes, shorts and a T-shirt.  You haven’t moved yet but you’re ready to go.  What you’re actually doing with these on-page factors is you’re letting Google know what you do and what you’d like to be able to rank for.  So, if you’re a mortgage broker in Toronto you might want to rank for the keyword “mortgage broker Toronto.”  By setting your on-page factors that speak to this would help Google to identify what you’d like to rank for.


Off-Page Optimization

  I mentioned that on-page factors help you to rank, but they won’t necessarily get you ranked.  Here’s the thing, on-page factors represent roughly 30 per cent of the factors it takes to rank for a particular keyword.  The other 70 per cent will come from implementing a link-building strategy.  Link building?  What’s that mean?  Link building is the key because Google sees ranking websites much like a popularity system.  The more positive votes you have, the higher Google feels you should rank because you must be providing searchers with relevant information.  The goal is to get other websites to point back to yours using the keyword you want to rank for.  If that site is highly authoritative (and relevant to what you do) then Google will like that and should want to rank you for it.  The number of links it takes to rank on page one will ultimately depend on what everyone else is up to that’s already on that starring page. This is where a sound strategy and working with a reputable SEO provider will help get you to where you want to go. A good SEO will work with you to find the right mix of building content to attract links, and actually reach out to other sites directly to build links. There are choices to be made.



  We’ve all heard about the friend, family member or competitor who gets a million visits to their site and apparently must be doing very well.  I’m not saying it’s not possible but here’s the thing.  The keyword “mortgage broker Toronto” gets on average 880 exact searches per month, nowhere near 1.2 million, however, it’s a great keyword to rank for because it’s relevant to someone looking for a mortgage broker in Toronto.  You probably won’t get all 880 searches to visit your site no matter how well you rank, but you stand a better chance of acquiring a new client based on the fact you offer the services that the person is exactly searching for.

 At the end of the day, while it’s good to have a healthy number of visitors to the site, what becomes more important is having relevant traffic that is important to your business.  You’ll stop wondering why you have so much traffic and no business to speak for it when you focus on exactly what you do, who you serve and where you serve them. About 1.2 million searches is a great number (better if a dollar sign comes before it) but relevant traffic will be the way to go if you’re looking to improve the way your site serves those who are looking for it.