Are you focussing on the right keywords?

September 14, 2015 | Keyword Research

It’s known amongst all website owners that keywords are an integral part to ensuring you’re targeting and reaching the right person. Keywords are used by search engines as an indication as to what a page is offering, helping your website to appear in the search results for certain queries.

If you’re not targeting keywords effectively, not only are you missing an opportunity to appeal to the relevant audience but it’s likely you’re also reaching the wrong people.

This post will be looking into how you can ensure you’re effectively targeting keywords across your website whilst highlighting a number of techniques you can use to improve upon your current keyword targeting.

Keyword Issues Diagnosis

Firstly, we want to establish if there are any issues with your current keyword targeting and if there are other areas for improvements; this can be done through Google Analytics.

Organic Landing Pages

Within the behaviour report in Google Analytics, landing page data can be found which highlights individual landing page performance. By applying an organic traffic segment to this data, we can begin to identify any potential keyword targeting issues.

LP

Bounce Rate

A first point of call when evaluating a page’s performance is bounce rate; this is often a good indication of an issue on a page. Bounce rate is a metric we can use to identify any potential targeting issues.

If a high number of users are entering a page on your website, then leaving shortly afterwards, you want to ask yourself ‘why?’. Have the users not found what they’re looking for? If so, are we correctly mapping a relevant keyword to the specific page? Is our keyword too broad?

Avg. Session Duration

As with bounce rate, we can also use average session duration as a metric to identify potential keyword targeting issues.
The average time a user spends on a page can vary from page to page, so it’s important that we’re aware of what can be considered ‘normal’ on a page-by-page basis. If there’s a specific page on your website with an average session duration that you deem to be abnormally low, it’s likely the user hasn’t found what they’re looking for.

Again you want to ask yourself ‘why?’. Understand your user; once you do this you can effectively target them.

Sessions

Using the ‘sessions’ column, you can identify any pages that are underperforming in comparison to other pages across your website. Identify any pages that receive abnormally low amounts of organic traffic and identify what may be the cause.

Review the keyword you’re currently mapping to this page. Are you targeting a keyword that’s too competitive? Is there an opportunity to refine what you’re targeting to allow you to appear in front of your user? High search volume keywords are not always best to target as they often come with high competition.

Researching for keywords

Now we’ve reviewed the current standing of keyword targeting across your website, we’re in a good position to begin researching new keywords. We now want to identify those potential keyword gems, using other tools than what may have been used before (Keyword Planner…).

Research Your Audience

Although quite often not considered, understanding how your audience is searching and how they talk is very important if you want to effectively identify targeted keywords.

Use the resources readily available to you across the internet and research your consumers’ behaviour, understand the language they use. You want to understand how your consumer describes the products or services you provide, how they speak on a day-to-day basis and how they’re searching.

There are a number of ‘go-to’ places for this kind of information:

Forums

There are tons of industry specific forums out there, varying from scaffolding to laser forums. It’s very likely your audience are already discussing the very product or service you provide and you’re not there listening to them. Look at the language they use, are there any common themes in how they are describing certain products or services?

Subreddits

Similarly to forums, subreddits are a great place to research into your audience. Again, it’s very likely there’s already a subreddit relating to your product or service out there, if not then why not create one?

Google Suggest

Google’s suggest feature is an often forgotten about but helpful tool for keyword research. By predicting what you may be searching based on how other users are searching this feature is a good indication of search behaviour.

SERP

It’s important to be aware of, to avoid personalised suggestions you need to be logged out of any Google account and also delete your browser history.

Google’s searches related to…

Similarly to Google’s suggest feature, utilise their ‘searches related to’ section at the bottom of their search results pages as this too is based on other user search behaviour.

Related Searches

Internal Search

Does your website feature its own internal site search function? Some may not be aware but this is a great place to understand how users are searching in a highly relevant environment, your website.

In Google Analytics, look into the site search report to review highly searched terms by your users. You may find that most terms may be users searching for specific pages however you may come across a keyword gem.

Behavior

Hidden Opportunities

Finding hidden opportunities with keywords can sometimes be difficult, however there are a number of tools (both paid and free) that can be used to highlight any potential keyword wins:

RankWatch

The ‘Low Hanging Fruits’ feature in Rank Watch’s online marketing tool is an effective way of identifying keywords your website is already ranking well for but may not be intentionally targeting.

LHF

 

From these keywords you may find that they are actually more targeted and have greater search volume than your current mapped keywords. As you’re already ranking well for these keywords, with a little effort there’s a good chance you could climb to the top search results with them.

Google Search Console

Although a lot more limited in the data being offered compared to Rank Watch’s Low Hanging Fruit feature, Google Search Console also provides information that can be used to highlight potential keyword opportunities.

By using the search analytics report in Google’s Search Console, you’re able to identify specific queries used. Similarly to Rank Watch’s tool, this can help highlight potential keywords your website is currently ranking well for that could be more valuable as a mapped keyword.

Search

It’s important to filter by devices in this report as has been done in both screen grabs. As mobile users’ search behaviour differs to desktop users, it’s important to identify any differing search queries. Understanding the full picture of your audience will result in effective targeting.

Search Analysis

Research competition

It’s quite often assumed that any keyword a competitor is targeting is a keyword you should be targeting, but this is not the case.

Although you may not want to target the same keyword, it’s still a good idea to know what exactly your competitor is targeting. Not only is this helpful in building up your own list of potential keywords but it also helps to identify holes in your competitors keyword targeting and gains in your own.

There are a number of tools you can use to conduct research into your competitors keyword targeting:

SEMrush

This is a tool regularly used during my keyword research phase as it can provide comprehensive data regarding a specific webpage, such as a competitor.

SEMrush

 

As can be seen in the above screen grab, it does a large part of the keyword research for you. This tool pulls through decision making metrics such as search volume and competition, along with a useful trend feature that draws out the growing or falling of certain search queries use over the last 12 months.

From a competitor research stance, you’re provided with rankings for specific keywords and an estimate for the percentage of traffic each keyword accounts for.

SpyFu

SpyFu is another useful search market research tool. Similarly to SEMrush, this tool provides you with comprehensive data of a competitor’s keyword performance with data on important metrics.

Most Valuable Keywords

A very useful tool with SpyFu is its ‘Kombat’ feature. In this part of the tool, you’re able to specify a number of competitors and see any keywords used across all websites.

Keyword Universe

 

If from the analysis of competitor keyword research you’ve identified common keywords you’re not targeting, it’s worth reviewing why you’re not. If a number of your competitors are targeting the same keyword that you’re not, you may be missing an opportunity to effectively reach your audience.

Long Tail vs. Exact Match

When choosing your keyword targeting, consider your SEO goals, both long-term and short-term.

As much as it would be great to be ranking #1 for all of your vanity exact match keywords like ‘pizza’, is it realistically attainable? As highlighted earlier, high search volume often brings high competition. Are you in a position to compete with the big brands? If not, competing for those vanity keywords may take years.

Long tail keywords are effective in targeting relevant users but on a much less competitive scale. By targeting long tail keywords on your website, you’re becoming a lot more targeted with your keywords; this will ultimately result in much better leads visiting your pages. For example; someone searching for ‘best price on pizza delivered in London’ is a lot more likely to convert than someone who’s searching ‘pizza’.

Location-Based Keywords

This is another case where SEO goals will affect your keyword targeting and so it’s important these goals are considered.

Does your business operate on a regional level? Do you wish to rank well for location-based services? If so, you want to ensure you include the specific area of operation in your keyword targeting to build local relevancy.

If you’re a plumber operating in London and you’re receiving calls from customers in Birmingham, you’re reaching the wrong audience. You want to be targeting keywords like ‘Plumber in Birmingham’ to build up that local relevancy.

Conclusion

Although it can be tempting to target those big vanity keywords, you may be missing an opportunity to target more refined and relevant keywords. Don’t just go after keywords you think your audience are searching; truly understand what your consumer is searching for, how they’re searching and how they behave online. Once you understand your user, you can effectively target them.

 

Share Your Thoughts

avatar
Alex Clapper
Alex Clapper

Luke, what an amazing resource! Very comprehensive 🙂

Luke Monaghan
Luke Monaghan

Hi Alex,

I’m glad you found it useful! Thanks for reading 🙂

Jason
Jason

It is indeed very interesting, especially analyzing how your audience speaks. Sometimes they might be using different language than the one we use daily. Say for example your audience consists of highschool kids. They might be using their own slang to talk about your services…so I would say good audience targeting goes above all else.

Abhishek
Abhishek

I think the time has passed for targeting vanity keywords. Most of the time for me it is about finding those little gems or low hanging fruits as you mentioned.

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