Keyword Research – What is Google Telling You About Your Site?
I have run into this numerous times (sometimes being my own fault) where keyword research was conducted on a site without any analysis of current rankings. You type some broad search terms into Wordtracker or Google Adwords that you think are relevant to your site. You look at all the suggestions and begin narrowing down your targets based on volume and competition. This isn’t wrong, but it certainly should not be the starting point for any site with even a small web presence that is receiving any traffic. Why? Well, lets say for example that your site ranked 5th in Google for the search term “seo workshops” (SEO Tip – Be careful when optimizing for Acronyms). With this being such a low volume search term it likely would have been overlooked during keyword research. What was also overlooked is that fact that moving from a #5 to a #1 for this low competition term is very nearly in grasp and could bring in 100 visitors a month. Remember, high rankings for a low volume keyword is typically better than low rankings for a high volume keyword, and optimizing for a term that Google already thinks you are authoritative for could be much easier than starting from scratch.
Before conducting keyword research you have to ask the question, “What is Google Telling Me About My Site?”.
Here’s a simple way to compare current rankings with new research so you can move forward with the best keywords.
Finding Your Current Keyword Rankings
There are many tools for analyzing your keyword rankings in SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages). For this example I will use WebPosition. Before moving on to any of these steps, it is suggested that you have a report of your last keyword research data handy for starting points and comparisons.
Pull up your current rankings report and sort from highest ranked to lowest. The goal of this is to see what keywords the Search Engines have decided (According to on and off page factors) you are worthy of ranking high for. We don’t want to start from scratch trying to rank number 1 for a keyword we don’t currently even rank in the top 50 for. Lets focus on our strengths. Also, the gap between result #1 and result #5 in terms of traffic is massive. We’re better off spending our time moving from 5 to 1 on keywords with lower traffic then from 50 to 10 on high traffic keywords.
Export the report to a spreadsheet so you have a way of plugging in other data for easy comparisons.
Comparing Current Rankings to Initial Research Data
Copy and paste the important data (Volume, Competition, and KEI) for each keyword from your last Wordtracker (or whatever tool you used) keyword research into the new rankings report.
I should also point out that when I did my original keyword research on this website I had assigned a priority number to the keywords I wanted to target. So now let’s take a look at the keyword priority I had previously set when conducting my keyword research. Does it match up with my current rankings in terms of order? Not really. My number one ranking term right now is not on my list of top 10 original priorities, and my number 1 priority term isn’t in my list of top ranking terms. But that’s OK. I wouldn’t expect it to so nothing is out of the ordinary here.
We are now starting to get a fuller picture of our keywords. In the example above, the keyword phrase [bicycle jerseys] isn’t in our top ten priority list. When we look to the left, we see that we are ranked number 4. If we can move up from a 4 to a 2 or even 1, we can account for a large percentage of that 1300 monthly search volume. Before, the high competition for this phrase might have scared us away, but with our current position, the competition indicator becomes less of a factor.
Never do blind keyword research. You must have a clear picture of where you are at right now to have a clear picture of where you should be going.
There are many other factors that come into play when choosing the best keyword targets so please check out this SEO Blog for up to date tips and news.