My keywords are a barren wasteland: SEO with Netizentesting

27 Mar 2014 by Wei Leen Ng

I met with Alvin, founder of Netizentesting recently. They record and analyze user behaviour on client websites. Even as a relatively young company, they have a sterling set of clients, and have high hopes to go even further. He told me about his improbable background in law and startups, and we talked for a while about the challenges of getting customers online.


One of the things I found remarkable about Alvin is that he used to write copy for websites, and became involved also in their design and SEO. This led him to found his current startup, but also informed his view on SEO, evolved from a time before Penguins or Pandas. We started talking about just what good SEO looks like nowadays, and I offered to blog about it and to share with everyone on this blog. With some research, I found that the company website has a very good SEO foundation. The biggest challenge that I could identify is to maximize organic search traffic. Very often, companies find themselves with some organic traffic, in a niche that is related, but isn't on the sweet spot of high volume and purchase intent. For instance, ranking well for red wines singapore is vastly inferior to ranking for wine delivery singapore. This is our focus today.

penguin and panda by Matt B of ecreative

If you are interested to see how a basic SEO audit is done, please see this post about checking your website's SEO. I am assuming basic working knowledge of the tools discussed in the blog post as a foundation.

Evaluating the opportunity

In Singapore and Malaysia, where I ran some queries with the Google Keyword Planner, I discovered that the total searches for ux testing or website usability was almost negligible. There is a risk in assuming that low search volumes equal to low opportunity. Let's call this the criminal lawyer fallacy. Search volume for criminal lawyer is just as low, but you can bet your last dollar that it converts tremendously well, and has a sky-high ROI, despite the low monthly search volume.

seo success kid

Keyword Avg. Monthly Searches (MY, SG)
website usability testing 10
ux testing 10
ux testing tools 10
website usability testing tools 10
website testing 30

To really know if website usability testing tools is really popular, it's worth looking at what the incumbents are doing. This is what the first page of results for a search on Google Malaysia looks like.

Results for Website usability testing tools

Most of these results are informative rather than conversion-driven. I think it's pretty clear that our keyphrase website usability testing tools isn't a high-converting search term, and the competition isn't optimizing heavily for it either.

What to do with low keyword volume

If it is true that we can't expect many leads coming from the most relevant keywords for the company, we could be in for a rough ride, sales-wise. let's consider for a moment what sort of alternative outcomes we can expect from SEO, and whether it is worth the investment.

Through some keyword research, I discovered that good web design and web design principles have 20 searches per month respectively. These 2 keywords alone are worth twice as much as the original ones we were considering, which hints at a possible way forward. Rather than using keywords that describe what netizentesting does, could we obtain better outcomes through using keywords that talk about benefits? It seems plausible that "good web design through user testing" is a better keyphrase to target.

Without going into too much detail, here is a checklist of items that a landing page for good web design through user testing should have in order to rank well for the keyword, and consequently see if the results justify further investment of time and effort.

SEO checklist for landing page

  • Use the keyword in the page title
  • Place keyword close to front of title
  • Use the keyword at least 3 times in the page
  • Use a unique meta description
  • Use at least 300 characters / 50 words
  • Use keywords in URL (eg. /good-web-design-through-user-testing.html)
  • Use keywords in Image Alt attributes

These are the basic requirements for a good landing page. With goal tracking in Google Analytics set up, we can observe the conversion rate over a period of time, and see if the targeted keywords and landing page combination convert better than the homepage and its associated keywords.

If the landing page converts well, we have dug ourselves out of the hole we found ourselves in. With higher keyword volumes, we can get leads, and also inform marketing / product decisions; and if it performs worse than the homepage, we learn what niches to perhaps avoid, and can have learned by rejecting poor niches. Either way, we win! If you're building a case to your manager to implement A/B testing, feel free to use the above as another point in your favour. Let me know if it works in the comments.