Understanding the Site concept, Tier 1, and Seed Words

Understanding the Site concept, Tier 1, and Seed Words

Posted by on Apr 5, 2009 in SEO

Understanding the Site concept, Tier 1, and Seed Words

There is quite a lot of confusion regarding the site concept, seed words, Tier 1, Tier 2, what the right demand and supply is, and other related keyword research topics.

I’ve shared my ideas in the SBI forums not long ago about keyword research and did my best to simplify things, but that thread is now on page 11 and I am still getting questions. 😉

All of these, of course, are well explained in the SBI Action Guide (if you are an SBI user), but perhaps you need a different perspective to understand them. So let’s tackle these terms and ideas one by one…

1.  What is a Site Concept?

A Site Concept is an idea. It can exist only in your head.

a) The Site Concept of my tennis website is the mental game of tennis, which I am trying to convey to visitors with the domain name – tennismindgame.com. The key is that a visitor will »get it« immediately – what your site subject matter is – just by seeing your domain name.

Tennis mind (the part of the domain name) is NOT a site concept, it’s just a keyword. 😉 It’s a keyword that tries to tell you what the whole site concept is.

I’ve later expanded my site to include tennis instruction, talking more about technique, and tennis strategy, which talks about strategy and tactics. Both of these concepts are NOT a part of the mental game of tennis, but so what?

This has nothing to do with the rankings and traffic of my articles. Tennis strategy and tennis instruction are still tightly related to the mental game of tennis and, of course, all of these cover tennis. If I were to start writing about golf strategy or baseball technique, then these articles would probably not rank so well. (Although I have no proof. Maybe they would. 😉 )

b) The Site Concept of my vacuum site is vacuum cleaner reviews. The site will cover reviews and I am trying to convey this idea in the domain name which includes a keyword vacuum (but not cleaner).

(Note; my site concept is NOT »vacuum cleaner«. That’s just a product or an idea.)

I could, for example, create a site that talks about vacuum cleaner technology and dissects all the little things going inside a home or industrial vac. Or I could talk about the history of vacuums. These are different site concepts.

The only keyword used in the domain is vacuum, which is not even the full keyword – vacuum cleaner. So what? The domain name has very little to do with your rankings, unless you target an exact keyword (for example vacuumcleanerreviews.com – which is taken by the way).

However, these domains look spammy to me and probably do to many other webmasters. Consequently, in most cases, I do not choose a keyword-based domain unless I feel it’s a tough keyword to win.

(Again, I can see the future questions: How do you know whether the keyword is easy or tough to win? ;). Ok, as a rule of the thumb, if the top 5 sites in Google for this search have an average pagerank (PR) of 3 or lower, then you can easily get there. If the average PR is 4 or higher, then you may want to attack them with the domain name that includes that keyword.)

In conclusion, the Site Concept is an idea of what your site subject matter will be. Of course, I suggest that you use only one or a maximum of 2 keywords in your domain name, and your goal is to convey this site concept to visitors when they see your site in the Google search results page.

What keyword should you use in your domain name to explain your site concept?

A keyword that clearly shows the concept of the site and that possibly has some demand and for which you have some chances of obtaining a ranking. Tennis mind doesn’t have much demand and not much competition, so I rank #1 for it.

Vacuum (in the domain name) has lots of demand and too much competition and I won’t rank for it (and I don’t really need to), but I chose the domain name for the reasons of coolness of the name. I also researched beforehand and found that I can rank well in Google for the keyword search »vacuum cleaner reviews«, even if I don’t have the exact keyword in the domain name.

2)  What is a seed word?

a) A seed word on my tennis site is, of course, tennis. It’s NOT tennis mind. As you just learned, that’s just one keyword that tries to explain to the visitors the topic of  my site.

In order to find more keywords for which I will write articles, I need to brainstorm much more BROADLY, so I need a SEED WORD that will give me many more keywords.

So – tennis is my seed word.

This seed word gives me lots of keywords from which to choose and now I can »cherry pick« the keywords that fit my SITE CONCEPT!

I first wanted to write only about the mental game of tennis, so I chose tennis psychology, mental tennis, and tennis mind, among others. Later, I expanded the idea to get more traffic and added tennis instruction, tennis tips, how to play tennis, and others.

My site concept is not about tennis equipment or racquet reviews, so I didn’t use these keywords.

b) The seed word on my vacuum site is vacuum cleaner.

I also brainstormed just »vacuum« and got a few more good keywords, but my general seed word was »vacuum cleaner«. Based on it, I got a list of useful keywords, which I then arranged into main pages and related articles.

3.  What is a Tier 1 keyword?

A Tier 1 keyword is the keyword around which you want to optimize your Tier 1, or  homepage. This is my definition, though.

The SBI Action Guide tells you that »Tier 1 focuses on your Site Concept word (ex., “Anguilla”).«

The problem with this definition is that you will most likely never rank with such a broad keyword. Therefore, you are wasting the power of your homepage, which will have (or has) the highest pagerank with the most incoming links!

So – here’s how I do it:

I choose 3 to 5 keywords which I have already chosen for my Tier 2 pages and try to squeeze them into the title (and headline) of my homepage.

The T2 keywords are those with very good demand and not so high supply, so that you can rank in the top 10 in Google, right? It’s even easier to rank for these keywords if your homepage is optimized for them! Why? Again, because the homepage is »stronger«; it has higher pagerank and more incoming links!

a) In case of my tennis site, my main T2 keywords are tennis tips, tennis psychology, tennis instructions, and tennis strategy. Check the title of my site www.tennismindgame.com and see how I used all of these keywords in the title. Of course, I didn’t use the main seed word tennis every time because that might »upset« Google. 😉

Use it at most 2 times in the title and in the headline.

Do a Google search for each of these keywords and you’ll find that I now have 2! listings in the top 10, which brings me much more traffic! The homepage may rank higher or lower compared to the T2 page, depending on how well it’s optimized and how many incoming links with that anchor text it receives.

Double listing in Google SERPs

b) In the case of my vacuum site, I chose vacuum cleaner reviews, vacuum cleaner ratings, and best vacuum cleaners (these are all of my T2 pages) and used them in some logical way in my title.

Note that when you optimize your homepage for a longer keyword, like best vacuum cleaners, you AUTOMATICALLY include your main seed word vacuum cleaner(s). The page is then AUTOMATICALLY optimized for this keyword too, in case you later get more links and more pagerank and eventually start ranking well for this broad keyword too!

Final Words

Let’s make a quick summary of both of these examples:

–    Site concept: mental game of tennis
–    Domain name: tennismindgame.com – the tennis mind part tells you the site subject matter
–    Seed word: tennis – from which I then cherry pick keywords that fit my site concept
–    T1 keyword(s) – tennis mind, tennis tips, tennis strategy, tennis instruction, tennis psychology

–    Site concept: vacuum cleaner reviews
–    Domain name: vacuum______.com – which suggests expertise on the topic of vacuums
–    Seed word: vacuum cleaner – from which I choose keywords with good demand and not too high supply
–    T1 keyword(s) – vacuum cleaner reviews, vacuum cleaner ratings, best vacuum cleaners

For your homework 😉 , go to Sitesell Results page and pick 5 to 10 websites that have very good rankings (Alexa close to 100,000 or even lower).

Now try to figure out what their Site concept is, whether you can see that from the domain name, what seed word they used (or maybe even more), what their T1 keywords are, and whether they have 2 listings in Google for that search phrase.

Once you »get it«, apply this knowledge to your site!

One last tip: To help your homepage to rank well for all of those T1 keywords (which are the same as some of your T2 keywords), get links to your homepage that include those keywords in the anchor text. You can do that with external and internal links.

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  1. Tomaz,

    First of all thank you for taking the time to help out fellow SBI’ers who are just starting out.

    Secondly, if i’m understanding you correctly at the end when you summarize you say your tier 1 keywords are tennis tips, tennis strategy etc..but i guess in a technical sense these are also your Tier 2 keywords which you’re inserting into your homepage to achieve better page ranking/search results. Is that accurate?


    Tomaz Reply:

    You’re welcome, AG!

    Yes, that’s exactly what I said:”I choose 3 to 5 keywords which I have already chosen for my Tier 2 pages…”


  2. Tomaz

    Wow..that was one killer article! I have already sent people the link to it. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

    By the way, I hit 574 visitors per day for my travel site!

    I am testing out a new affiliate link location on an affiliate product I am selling based on Jon Legers latest blog post.

    I looked at my stats and I have averaged 3 sales at $16.56 net every month for a year. This is with horrible position. I am hoping that the new position will double those sales.

    I have tracker links from clickbank and SBI so I know what is going on.

    Still want to hit the $17 a day goal with that site. 🙂

    Thanks again for the article.



    Tomaz Reply:

    Thanks David!

    Yes, using an affiliate link above the fold works well, especially if there is a large image too.


  3. Tomaz,

    I really enjoy reading this information. It helps bring things into a different prespective.

    With my site being about diabetes, I don’t expect the Alexa ranking to be too low with all the competition out there.

    I have done some tweeking to it since I have read your latest article hoping it will improve it.

    By the way I really love how your websites are put together and know you are not using the page builder. I just don’t think I could find my way around a program like dreamweaver and I’m not sure I have time for a class on it.

    I do have a question about the bolded words on the pages. I know they influence the reader when they are skimming the page, but do they help your ranking in anyway?

    One more question, everyone is talking about page rank being from 0-5 and I’m sure mine is probably 0 right now, but how do you find out that information?

    Sorry this is so long.

    Thank you in advance.



    Tomaz Reply:


    I have seen no proof that bolded keywords help with the rankings. It is an SEO theory though and maybe it works.

    To see your pagerank install Google Toolbar or SearchStatus plugin for Firefox. Just do a Google search for both…


  4. great explanation! thank you for sharing.


  5. hi tomaz,

    great article again!

    Which do you prefer out of amazon and chitika? Can you have both on the same page?


    Tomaz Reply:

    Thanks, Dave!

    Chitika typically earns better because they pay per click and Amazon pays per sale. There are of course many more clicks (which pay less of course) than sales (which pay more) and right now for me, Chitika is ahead.

    But Amazon can also be a great earner if you use affiliate links on pages where people are in the buying mode. (product reviews, best product pages, …)

    And yes, you can use both on the same page…


  6. Hi Tomaz,

    I really wanted to thank you again for your great
    help in the forum.

    I changed my domain name,but the change took a few days.I discovered that the two-word domain name I wanted was taken in those days,so I chose one of the 3-word domains that I had on mind (without hyphens,which includes the seed word.

    Now I´m writing offline my homepage and optimizing it for a 3-5 2tier keywords.

    Well,I´m your follower now too.
    This site is really awesome and full of rich and useful content!WoW!

    I´m 100% certain that you will achieve your goal!
    I have the same goal,although I´m just starting.

    I wish you only the best!


  7. Tomaz. Am I right in assuming that you seed word is the “goal”. In other words, you are making long tail keywords, which bring in some money, and, at the same time, help you rank for your seed word, which, over time, you will rank for and get LOTS of money. IS this right?


    Tomaz Reply:

    It depends. In case of vacuum cleaner it is possible to rank high for this seed word and it does bring a lot of traffic. These visitors are not really in a buying mode so they need to click on an ad for me to make money.

    In case of tennis, I cannot rank well for this keyword – it’s too broad.

    I look more from this perspective: the more pages I have (maybe 200 or up to 400), the more words are there on pages and for more keywords I can be found.


  8. Interesting. How do you determine whether or not a seed word is too competitive? Because I see that with “vacuum cleaner”, you are beating PR5, PR6 type pages.


    Tomaz Reply:


    Pagerank is half the story. The other half is the number of links with the anchor text which includes the main keyword. If you analyze those PR5 and PR6 sites you’ll see, that they don’t have that many links with the anchor text.

    They get pagerank from the PR of the whole site. I also get many many links from internal linking of my site… (one of the secrets of high rankings of SBI sites!)


  9. Tomaz,

    what’s your opinion in using hyphens for domain name.
    I noticed you didn’t use them even though your domain name has 3 words in it. What was your logic behind that?
    Is capitalizing your words just a way around that?


    Tomaz Reply:


    The hyphens domains look amateurish to me and probably to many other webmasters so I prefer not to use them.


  10. This article helps me so much. I have an SBI site and discovered this site through the forums. Your explanations are very clear, helpful and understandable to me. Now I need to make some changes to boost my rankings. Thank you for the help.


    Tomaz Reply:

    You’re welcome, Doug. Let me know if you I can help with something else too. I am running out of ideas for content (for this blog)… 😉


  11. What I will do is write up a special page on my site about SBI and link to this blog. Right now I’m not a 5 Pillar member because I’m still new to the process. But I can confidently tell about my experiences, help, and encouragement so far.

    Ideas for this blog? I want at least one more site, maybe more, and I can tell you the process of site concept, choosing a niche, home page design, site design are all difficult for me and apparently many others too. Your kind help in that regard is very appreciated. Once all that is set up, I think I would be good to go.

    Perhaps you could offer an ebook for sale about your tips. Or, set up a “bare bones” site and sell it to me for building out the pages with suggested keywords.

    By the way, my wife was born in Zagreb and lived in Belgrade. She has visited Slovenia several times and said it is a beautiful country.


  12. Today as a thank you, I put a link to this blog on my special page about my excellent experiences so far with SBI. You can see it here:


    Your help is invaluable to me and I appreciate your work here for all to see.


    Tomaz Reply:

    Thanks Doug! Let me know if you have any questions about your sites!


  13. Tomaz,

    Someone pointed me in the direction of the (now 20-something page) forum on SBI, and then I followed your website, and am delighted to find this article, which I am going to read and study again because I am new at this, and am having a hard time connecting this discussion with what I have done. Would it be alright to ask your opinion about what is going right, and wrong with “www.green-living-catholics.com”? My site concept is green living, and my special spin on it is Catholic Green living. My site keywords are “green living,” and “going green.” There are plenty of good MKL words, but looking at results in wordtracker, I get the feeling that this isn’t a very high demand word. “Going green” was better than “green living,” but neither seem that good. That’s counterintuitive in my opinion. If I am out of line to ask you this here, please just say so.


    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Rebecca,

    You’re doing fine and don’t worry just about one keyword. You’ll build a site around 200 or more keyword optimized articles and will also be found for 10,000 more.

    I’d brainstorm green and then cherry pick keyword that fit my site concept. I see you also used lateral brainstormer to find related keywords like alternative energy.

    Your site is now just a baby so give it time and remember to work on links!


  14. Tomaz,

    Question 1: I’ve followed your advice and optimized my homepage for several of my T2 keywords. But here’s the challenge: Some of those keywords don’t contain my seed word. But they’ve got great demand and low supply. And more important, they make sense in the context.

    What should I do?

    Question 2: The T2 keywords that I’ve used on my homepage are plural, not singular. But my seed word is singular.

    Will this affect my ranking with Google?

    Thanks for your input,


    Tomaz Reply:


    1. No problem. You don’t need to use just one of your seed words.

    2. There’s not much difference in singular and plural rankings. Just get a few links to your homepage with the singular and a few with the plural version and Google will rank you for both. If you do internal linking like suggested in the AG and I wrote also in this forum post, then you’ll do all this automatically.


  15. So if I optimize my T1 for:

    Acting Auditions
    Singing Auditions
    Open Casting Calls
    Free Monologues

    That won’t confuse Google?


  16. Hi Tomaz,

    I love your site, and thanks for giving us so much.

    I’ve changed the title on my home page following the advice to incorporate the words from T2 pages.

    It is worth following a similar strategy and optimising the Titles on my T2 pages incorporating words from the T3 pages underneath them?



    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Mahadeva,

    Sure, you can also sneak a long tail T3 keyword or two into the title of the T2 pages. You might get lucky and get two rankings in Google search results.


  17. OMGoodness Tomaz, I have digested (only half of it so far) like I said I would, and its hit the nail on the head!

    Thankyou, your a star!


  18. Hi Tomaz,

    This article (and your whole blog) are so helpful. Is there a reason you don’t have a Donate page? Plenty of people would like to show their appreciation for your help this way, me included.

    Anyway, on to my question:

    You wrote…

    “Note that when you optimize your homepage for a longer keyword, like best vacuum cleaners, you AUTOMATICALLY include your main seed word vacuum cleaner(s). The page is then AUTOMATICALLY optimized for this keyword too, in case you later get more links and more pagerank and eventually start ranking well for this broad keyword too!”

    So, if I optimize my home page for “time management tips”, does that mean I don’t need to use “time management” as a keyword because it’s done already?

    Also, another of my 3-5 Tier 1 keywords is “time management techniques”. Is “time management tips and techniques” okay to use as a phrase in my title? I notice you’ve done this on your Vacuum Cleaner site.




    Tomaz Reply:

    Hey Tim,

    “Yes” to both questions! 😉


  19. Hi Tomaz

    Just wondering how important it is to keep a “tight” niche. Or do great keywords make up for general niches? David Dutton’s CoolestPlacesToVisit for instance is about attractions all over the world. Needless to say that’s a pretty broad niche. But since he was able to find a decent all-encompassing T1 keyword, then “cherry-pick” enough T2 and T3 keywords with good demand and relatively low supply, is that enough to develop a successful site on, even though he’s not niching it down to Anguilla, or even something as “broad” as the Caribbean (as Ken warns against)? I guess what I’m really asking is, how much more important are the keyword numbers than the actual tightness of the niche? And as long as you can find enough of the right keywords, is there necessarily such a thing as too general of a site concept?

    Much thanks for EVERYTHING you do for us newbies.



    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Mike,

    I don’t believe there is such thing as a niche too broad. You can do a vertical on a single word keyword (tennis, travel, home, …) and simply cherry pick T2 and T3 keywords that have the right numbers. And your T1 keyword – your homepage – is optimized on 3-5 T2 keywords as explained in the post above.


  20. I love you! Frustrated for a week before finding your site. None of the sites were as clear and thorough as your. You are a naturally born teacher, and I really appreciate your sharing.


  21. thank you for this post.
    it cleared up all my questions about the site concept, the domain, the title naming etc.


    you wrote this 2 years ago, it’s impacting me now. sweet.
    appreciate all the sharing you’ve done and are doing!




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