What if you could only spend one hour each week identifying some of your biggest opportunities and problems? What would you spend the time doing?
That was a question – well, more of a “challenge” given to me by a few attendees of a recent Advanced Keyword Modeling presentation. While the many possible analysis were great, they were limited by time and wanted to know of all of them, which I personally would do first.
First, the 60 minutes does not include gathering the data and building the reports. Since the challenge was to me and I would obviously use the keyword management tool I have developed to do them. Nevertheless, all of these can easily be done in Excel.
Analysis #1 – Underperforming Important Keywords
I like this analysis since it tells me which of my most important, high ranking words words are not generating traffic. Since they are ranking well most of the battle is over and I just need to understand why they are not getting clicked.
For this analysis I take all my most important keywords, often referred to as “gold words” or “tier 1 words,” segment them to find those that are currently ranking in the top 3 positions of the local search then sort by their “fair share” share of clicks. You can draw the line where you feel comfortable to define “fair share” but I suggest at least 5 percent.
Note: Research based the rankings from over 30 million keywords from clients using our Back Azimuth Keyword Management suite shows that the average click rate for non-brand terms ranking in the top 3 positions ranges from 11.5% to 22.5%.
In the vast majority of the cases when you rank in the top 3 and you are getting only a few clicks it breaks down into a few root causes that are often easy to fix. The most obvious reason is that there is another listing or paid ad that is more relevant or compelling to click.
If that is not the case it is typically one of the following reasons:
- The snippet is not relevant and they are not clicking. This happens when there is not a lot of text on the page in sentence form.
- Your Paid Ad is more relevant or actionable than your organic listing which happens with discounts and special offers that are harder to represent in the organic snippet.
The steps for this analysis are:
- Get the current Organic Ranks for all Tier 1 Keywords (for local specific words get the data from that city) Authority Labs, Sycara and LinkDex all offer city-level rank data.
- Get the Google Exact Match keyword volume for the Tier 1 keywords. I do this via the AdWords API but you can do it manually using the Google AdWords Keyword Suggestion tool.
- Using your analytics tool, get the organic visits for the your Tier 1 keywords. A big thank you to Google for making this harder.
- Create a new column in your worksheet named Share of Opportunity and enter the calculation of visits divided by demand and get the current share of traffic. This tells me the percentage of the total opportunity I am getting
- Sort the list first by Organic Rank then by Share of Opportunity column. Look at your list and any keyword not getting its fair share of clicks should be evaluated to see why it might not be clicked.
To review the snippet simply go to Google and enter keyword site:yourdomain.com and it will show you the pages that Google finds relevant on your site for that phrase. Find your desired page and review the snippet. Just cleaning up a few of these can increase traffic significantly to the site. This should be done for each of your country sites weekly but at least monthly.
Analysis #2 – High CPC Keywords With No High Organic Listing
For this analysis, I generate a report of my active Paid Search terms and sort them by the Average Cost Per Click and look at my rank reports to see if I am ranking for those terms.
Having paid and organic listings simultaneously allows me to maximize SERP shelf space but also allows me to shift some of the more expensive PPC click costs into organic listings. This is not a Paid or Organic but a Paid AND Organic objective. Once I have both I can analyze the collaboration or cannibalization levels.
At SMX East, I described this analysis during my session few people were doing this analysis but a number of the attendees followed up with me later indicating that as many as 18 of 20 of their top keywords did not have a corresponding organic rank.
The first insight I want is how many and which of my words, starting with the top 20, do not have a corresponding organic listing in the top three positions. I do make an exception when the keyword phrase has a strong correlation to local signals i.e. “Boston Marriott.”
The Steps for this analysis are:
- Export a list of your keywords from your paid search accounts and sort them by highest Average Cost Per Click (CPC)
- Merge in the keyword rank report that you generated in the first analysis.
- I typically just look at the top 20 keywords by CPC for those without corresponding organic ranking terms in the top 3. You can use top 5 but I have found the greatest “collaborative value” is when you paid and organic are both in the top 3 positions. For any that do not rank, do an audit on the appropriate organic page to understand why it is not ranking.
The assumption is that if you are spending a premium for these keywords there should be a similar level of effort and performance on the organic side. Too many teams do not coordinate the lists of important words are rarely synced between the teams.
Analysis #3 – Tier 1 Keywords – PLP Rank 11 to 15
This analysis helps me identify key pages that are just off the first page that require minimal effort to get them ranking well. This analysis is a bit harder to do in Excel but using Pivot Tables it can be done. For those not familiar with the PLP concept, the goal is have the “optimal” or “preferred landing page” for each keyword the best ranking page.
In our analysis we have found that the click and more importantly the conversions are as must as 65% higher when the optimal page is ranking over any other page. The steps for this analysis are:
- Use the current rank report generated in Analysis 1.
- Merge the rank report with your list of preferred landing pages (PLP).
- Sort the merged list by the rank and look for those with a rank between 11 and 15.
- Audit the pages and identify specific on or off page improvements.
A variation of this report is to just make sure the PLP is the page that is ranking for your tier 1 keywords. Too often we only check for ranking and not to make sure the page that is ranking is the optimal page. If you have an incorrect or outdated page ranking it can dramatically reduce clicks and revenue since it may not match the goals of the user.
Clearly the gathering of the data and creating the reports will take more than the allotted hour but once you have developed your process and worksheets you can replicate it easily reducing the time. In my normal process of “60 minutes to Search Greatness” I am able to do 15 of these types of “find the anomalies” analysis using automation.
What types of weekly opportunity analysis do you do?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.