Importance of keywords
Keywords are an essential element of any SEO campaign but identifying the right keywords for your site is not always easy. The way we use keywords can help us to rank for those terms in a number of ways, whether that’s internal anchor text pointing to a page, anchor used in external links or keyword distribution on the page itself through content, header tags, alt tags and in the page title etc.
Which keywords should I target?
Targeted keywords need to remain first and foremost relevant to the products, services and goals of the site in question, there’s simply no point in targeting irrelevant terms even if they could generate a great deal of traffic not least because Google is smart enough to figure out when you’re trying to rank for something that just doesn’t relate to your site. Secondly you should think about the user, if you’re driving traffic from terms that you have little or no useful content for all this will do is increase your bounce rate.
The other parameters are much simpler,usually we want high traffic terms with low competition (this is the dream scenario though not usually the case), in particular we’re looking for terms that convert well. Why chase high competition, high traffic keywords when we can achieve the same goal conversions from lower traffic but better converting keywords?
User journey keyword targeting
Analyse your user or buyers’ journey on the site and identify the key stages, this is a process you should regularly look to review and should also be integrated into your site content strategy.
You can then use this process to help identify calls to action and trigger terms to build around your keyword sets, let’s take a used car seller as an example using the above buyers’ journey.
Keyword data sources
There are loads of keyword data sources out there which you can use to identify new keyword targets, here are few of the simplest and best methods of extracting data:
Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
These data sources have been significantly limited by the introduction of Google’s SSL encryption on keyword data from users logged into Google profiles whilst searching but it’s still possible to thousands of keyword terms from your organic traffic data. You can also extract back-link anchor text through webmaster tools.
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer can provide a mass of back-link anchor text keyword data for both your site and from competitor sites. Pull data from competitors with higher visibility can help identify keywords sets that you may not even have previously considered while smaller niche competitors may reveal fewer terms but these may well have high conversion rates and lower competition.
If you run PPC ad campaigns you can extract impression and click data from your account for analysis, again this is one of the best sources for keyword identification and can produce some real gems as well as some stinkers.
Google keyword tool/Google suggest
The Google keyword tool and Google suggest can offer some suggestions for keyword focus, they’re much better used to help generate keyword variation terms to avoid over optimising your use of anchor text.
Analysing your keyword data
At this stage we can start to look at analysing and manipulating the data to see which terms are relevant and useful, here’s how I might do a quick analysis (depending on the size of the data-set)
- Run a ranking check on all keywords
- Check any terms outside the top 100 rankings manually to see if they really are relevant
- Pull ranking URL, Page title and Header information for each
- Setup a formula to identify use of the keyword or phrase within the landing page URL, title & Headers
- Manually review each ranking page for all under-performing keywords and determine requirements for new content or title and header optimisation.
You can even then use this analysis to locate any gaps in content and keyword targets by comparing your data with similar competitor analysis, this process works particularly well with higher visibility competitors and smaller specialised websites.