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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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…).
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:
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?
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.