The need for keywords does not stop once you have finished using WordTracker.
The importance of quality keywords is not something you need to stop worrying about after utilizing Google’s Keyword Tool.
None of what you do as an SEO Consultant initially changes what you intend to do long term.
Sure you can construct yourself a great foundation based on quality initial keyword research, but you need to build upon that. As we proceed through this series of posts we are attacking this concept under the assumption that you have already built a list of keywords, using basic keyword tools, and have optimized your site with those terms.
Now we are looking to take those pieces of coal, dark and undefined, and polish them into diamonds.
Let’s take a look at how to utilize analytics in the pursuit of keyword perfection.
The long and short of it
We will start with our on-site analytics. This can take several different forms, from Google Analytics, to high end analytics solutions such as Web Trends, and even basic server based web logs. All of these will be able to provide you with the information needed as you move forward, some just present the information in a more easily digested manner.
Note: If you are still completely reliant upon web logs do yourself a favor and get on board with Google Analytics. It is free and efficient. It offers a host of information and reports, and will improve your overall site analysis.
The first, and most obvious place to take the use of your analytics as a keyword tool, is to look at how the initial use of your keywords, in content, on your site, has effected your rankings for your broad terms, as well the longtail terms your content has produced.
Within your web analytics dashboard you can view the different keywords that are utilized to find your site through search. You can also see the initial interaction of the viewers using these terms to find your site, and the site itself.
The most important metric to look at here is bounce rate.
This simple metric, calculated by taking the total number of of visitors bouncing off of your site (a bounce is a single-page visit to your website) and dividing it by the total number of visits, can tell you just how useful your site is in terms of your visitors’ needs. Accordingly, if you are working with a blog, this metric is almost useless to you, as the concept behind the blog is quick digestion of information. However, this metric can be very powerful for the measurement of other content based properties and especially e-commerce web sites.
From Melanie Nathan, SEO Specialist
Your bounce rate is often a good indication of the effectiveness of a page. Keep a close eye on your bounce rate and tweak keywords and content as often as necessary.
Also, to help with conversions, keep everything simple and easy to locate. Got an e-commerce site? Don’t make people go looking for your return policy, shipping info, payment options, checkout button etc. People don’t read, they don’t like to scroll and their attention spans are short. You’ve only got a few seconds from the time they enter your site to grab them with simple instructions and a good call to action. Give them what they’re looking for and make it easy to obtain ftw! Make it too complicated and you’re yesterday’s news.
I usually view a successful bounce rate for a keyword as being at or below 35%. If you are below 50% you are on the right path but may need to tweak the content on your page, or reestablish the why? behind your users visit.
Anything over 50% I think you can safely say that the page and content you offer is not what a search user utilizing that term is looking for. Even if it is a term that gets great traffic, and you are only getting 1/3 of the traffic you acquire from this term to stick to your site, think about how that remaining 33.3% is going to convert.
If you are seeing bounce rates in excess of 75% you need to pull the rip chord immediately. Get a conversion driven term on that page and do it now. If you need to know where to go to for a quick term, dip into the longtail that you have been accumulating since launching your site. Harvest conversion driven longtail terms, that might even increase in value if they have an entire page of content dedicated to them.
While analytics programs can lead you to quality longtail terms, Hittail.com, offers a real time look at keyword behavior via Javascipt tags. This analytics product also offers you the ability to export the longtail terms that you harvest for direct pasting to your paid search account, which makes it incredibly useful for PPC purposes.
Another nice feature of Hittail, aside from being free for basic service, is that it gives you a basic idea of the paid search bid value your longtail terms have.
The Internet has offered the marketer an unparalleled amount of data, and most of the time the shear amount, and how to sift through it to find relevant information can be a dilemma.
One data source you will find useful after your initial site optimization is SEODigger.com. This site offers users a look at the terms, within the top 60 million search queries, that their site ranks for in the top 20 results in the Google SERPs. With this ranking information, SEODigger.com also displays the Wordtracker and Overture keyword popularity data for that term.
SEO Digger, like all applications, has its issues. I often find that the keyword popularity data found in its reports does not match what Wordtracker itself produces. Also the listing of the Overture and Wordtracker data side by side can lead to confusion for a person just setting out in keyword research.
An effective way to utilize SEO Digger is to use the application to locate high trafficked terms, which you did not overtly optimize for, but that you are now ranking well for in the top 5 results in the SERPs. Note these terms, and analyze their productivity in terms of conversion. The question you will need to ask yourself is, “do these terms justify content created specifically for them, rather than the content that they now rest in?” If these terms are converting well (a broad, general goal is usually 2.5%, but it really depends on your market), and you are maintaining top rankings for the terms, what is the sense in messing with a good thing?
Another way I like to utilize SEO Digger is to target possible longtails buried on the second page that some optimization could bump into a productive spot. As you dig through these terms keep the why? of your visitor in mind. It’s a great feeling to rank for a term, but that energy you wasted optimizing for a term that will never convert, but is now #1, is going to cost you money, and in the end this whole process is about revenue.
You should leave SEODigger.com with a good understanding of:
1) The health of your site in terms of search
2) A list of surprise top 5 terms to monitor in terms of conversion
3) A list of second page longtails that you feel will convert, and thus willl optimize for
Another great data tool on the Web is Google Trends.
Here is Google’s explanation of this tool:
With Google Trends, you can compare the world’s interest in your favorite topics. Enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most.
A light bulb should go off.
We can now take the data we have been collecting from our on-site analytics, Hittail.com, and SEODigger.com, and begin to compare how some of our newly found terms are trending in terms of traffic on the Internet.
Not only can we look at overall trends of online traffic for these terms, but we can compare them against each other, and against our original keyword list to reevaluate keyword placement.
Note: One thing that has not been stated, but that needs to be, that an overall site structure should be adhered to as you go about your keyword analysis. You should not simply be throwing terms all over your site, hoping some will stick. Before any of this research takes place you need to separate your site into multiple tiers, assigning keyword importance to each. The difficult and importance of your keywords should flow in a descending fashion through your site the same way link equity generally does.
The downside of Google trends is obviously the fact that it is purely visual and does not give actual numeric data, but used in conjunction with other tools, it is an effective addition to your research.
From Andy Beal, internet marketing consultant, award-winning blogger, and co-author of Radically Transparent: Monitoring & Managing Reputations Online
Before you start changing the keyword emphasis for your web site, you’ll want to take a look at some cool tools that give you a glimpse of whether a new trend is actually forming. At Blogpulse.com/trend or trend.icerocket.com you’ll be able to enter up to three different key phrases and take a look at how popular those phrases have been over the past month. Likewise, google.com/trends and facebook.com/lexicon/ offer similar insight into what topics are “hot” right now. Granted this is “past” data, but the resulting graphs will show you whether bloggers have been talking more about that phrase or less over the past month. With bloggers being on what some call the “lunatic fringe” of new trends (leaping straight past “cutting edge”) you’ll learn more from those trend charts than a regular keyword research tool.
Following these tips, and utilizing these data tools will help you look at your keywords in an entirely different way than you did during your preliminary keyword research. You are now looking at your keywords in terms of conversion with data to support your decisions.
We now have a pretty refined concept of the keywords we want to use and how they relate to our site. We have conversion driven terms, matched with conversion driven content and pages.
The next step is to take a look at how your competition is utilizing keywords.
Many marketers make this part of their preliminary research, but I feel that with all of the sub par marketing techniques on the web, without a good keyword foundation set competitive analysis could do more harm than good.
The next post in the Beyond Keyword Research series will look at how to collect and utilize competitive keyword data.
Until that time feel free to use this blog as a place to share keyword techniques based on analytics. Also feel free to use the contact form to bounce any questions or keyword research off of me.