Good, Better, Best Modifier for SEOby Kent Lewis on November 24, 2009Search Engine Optimization
When creating lists in SEO, copywriters have multiple options. This article explores the ideal modifier to use when naming a list. For example, this article could be titled Top Rated Modifiers for SEO, Best Modifiers for SEO, or Popular Modifiers for SEO, but which modifier has a high chance of driving traffic and a low barrier to entry in search results? Which modifiers lead to strong user engagement metrics and a high conversion rate?
The first thing we are going to want to look at is search volume. For this article, Anvil used Google’s external tool and Keyword Tracker to identify projected monthly search volume. Anvil chose restaurants as an example list due to the relatively high search volume.
Based on the search volume, users far and away search for lists using the modifier “best” more frequently than other modifiers, but it is worth noting that users are more likely to use numbers than words (i.e. top 10 vs. top ten). Also worth noting is that a combination of number + best is frequently searched upon (i.e. 50 best). Finally, in terms of search volume, good bests great and searchers generally omit the hyphens.
Now that we have identified what modifiers receive the highest search volume, we want to look at what modifiers have the least barrier to entry. In other words, we want to determine which keywords give our article the best chance at ranking in Google’s search engine results. For time’s sake, we turned to SEOmoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool and looked at only the keywords where Google reported 500+ searches per month.
Based on SEOmoz’s keyword tool, each of our top keywords are fairly difficult to target, but there is a distinct drop in difficulty ranking for Top 50 Restaurants and 50 Best Restaurants. This makes sense as top 50 lists are more difficult to produce than top ten lists, but what’s with the increased competition for top 100? This could indicate that publishers who are willing to create large lists may simply prefer top 100 lists as opposed to top 50 lists. Intuitively, publishers may believe users are more likely to search for top 100 than top 50, but our data does not support that belief.
At this point, based on the above metrics, 50 Best looks like the best/top/ideal modifier as it incorporates both the high search volume (“best”) and lowest barrier to entry (“50”), but to really get an idea of the ideal modifier to target, we need to look at user engagement and conversion data. For this experiment we are going to look at a publication site. In this instance, a conversion is a newsletter signup and the main goal is to keep visitors on the site (hence, looking at pages/visit). For privacy sake, I have eliminated the actual keyword and included only the modifier.
Based on the above data, top searched keywords have a fairly consistent conversion rate, but “X best” keywords report a higher than normal pages per visit. Also, popular, recommended, and top rated modifiers report lower than average on-site engagement.
In order to best judge the modifiers, we have to take into account search volume, keyword ranking difficulty, user engagement, and conversion rate. Based on all of these metrics (and a ridiculously quick analysis) of modifiers, 50 best appears to be our winner.
What modifier is best for your industry could be completely different, but shouldn’t you be able to answer this question?