Effective Keyword Targeting: The Key To Growing Traffic & Revenue
Columnist Trond Lyngbo explains how proper keyword targeting is the key to improving your site's visibility in search engines.
When it comes to keywords, your aim shouldn’t be to target everything. Rather, you should aim to discover where the richest vein of gold lies, and then focus your efforts on extracting it. By correctly identifying areas of growth potential, you can transform a website into a traffic machine with high revenue potential.
With my e-commerce business clients, I begin by analyzing their market (keywords) and implementing a growth plan in selected areas with high traffic potential. I’ve usually found that most of them can boost traffic and sales with a simple optimization system.
The key to success is knowing where your biggest traffic and revenue increases are lying hidden, just waiting for you to uncover them. I call this “the low hanging fruit” of search marketing, where implementing small changes or just making a few small adjustments and fixes can reap rich rewards.
Discovering and capitalizing on this low-hanging fruit involves three steps:
Let’s talk about each in more detail.
1. Gather Relevant Data
First, you want to know what your audience is looking for.
- Which keywords and phrases are users typing into Google to search for your business or your products?
- What is their intent while searching?
- Is it to place an order right away?
- To learn more about the product?
- To compare your product against others?
Next, you should look at what you’re already offering them.
- Are you focusing on the right keywords?
- Are the branch terms, jargon and brand names your prospective buyers use to search the same ones your website is optimized for?
Keyword research and analysis can help answer these questions.
Your initial goal is to come up with the top 40 most popular keywords and phrases that have high search volume and for which pages on your website are generating revenue. Jot down these terms in one column of a spreadsheet.
For big e-commerce stores that sell a wide range of products, there will be many top level categories, with complex URL hierarchies leading to sub-categories and smaller sub-divisions, each loaded with a range of products and brands. In this case, you’ll want to write up a top 40 list of keywords for each category.
Before running a growth analysis, you’ll want a complete list of keywords that your prospective customers use to find information or buy products from your web store. Here are some tips and tools that will help.
a. Google Analytics: Go to the report page which lists top keywords and phrases that have sent search traffic to your website over the years. Export the list of keywords into your spreadsheet.
Look at data from as far back as you can. It’s particularly helpful if you can access keyword data from before September 2013, when Google moved to 100% secure search (thus taking away keyword referrer data for Google searches).
b. Google Webmaster Tools: Append all keyword data from your Google Webmaster Tools (or Bing, or Yandex) account to the same spreadsheet. You’ll now have a large collection of search terms, along with some general ranking data.
c. Internal Site Search: Collect keywords that your visitors are using on internal search tools on your web store when they navigate around it or seek specific information on products or categories. Add these terms to the spreadsheet.
d. Google AdWords: Export any data from your previous PPC campaigns to include in your growing list.
e. Google Keyword Planner: Type your web store URL and Google Keyword Planner will throw up keyword suggestions it thinks are relevant to your site. Add these terms to your growing collection.
Repeat the steps with URLs to your site’s category and sub-category pages, as well as your most important product pages.
You now have a meaty dataset to study.
Looking at the information you’ve gathered, it will become apparent that:
- The keywords are all related in one way or another to content available on your site.
- Most of these keywords drive search traffic to your website, some more than others.
- The list reflects your self-imposed limitations on which keywords you believed were right to use — or, to put it another way, there are probably many more keywords that your prospective buyers used to search for your products, but which are not found on your site!
Armed with this treasure trove of keyword data, you’re now ready to shift gears to enter the next phase of your strategy.
2. Prioritize Your Targets
Now that you’ve built up this big list of keywords related to your site, it is time to pare it down to those with the greatest potential to grow your traffic and revenue. From there, you can expand the list to include common variations of these high-value keywords.
You should also examine which keywords your successful competitors are focusing on — your research may uncover valuable keywords you hadn’t even thought to target!
Tip: Long-tail keywords are especially interesting because they have potential to quickly and easily rake in more revenue since they have generally lower competition and target visitors who are ready to buy.
To expand your list of existing high-value keywords, I recommend the following tools:
a. Keywordtool.io: This long-tail keyword research tool can provide thousands of keyword suggestions from real user queries. I recommend running it on all product category and sub-category names e.g. shoes, running shoes, and brand names (like “Nike running shoes”).
You’ll get plenty of long-tail keyword suggestions, which are often the most under-estimated assets for many of my ecommerce store clients.
While it’s true that general keywords like [shoes] and [running shoes] have higher search volume than a search phrase like [Nike running shoes red], the latter converts very well into sales because the visitor is almost ready to buy.
b. Google Correlate: By correlating words and topics, this helpful tool can throw up keyword suggestions, including variants on more popular and commonly used search terms.
c. Merge Words: By using this tool, you can expand your list by adding words like [cheap], [affordable], [expensive] and so on to the front (or end) of your keywords. e.g., [affordable Nike running shoes].
Do this for popular brands in your store. If your e-commerce store targets a local audience, include location data. Follow the same procedure, but add city/town, neighborhood or locality names to the keywords.
You can do the same with colors (e.g., [red Nike running shoes]), or try other variations based on trends, seasons, holidays, special occasions and so on.
To see which keywords your competitors are targeting, try the following tools:
a. SEMrush: SEMrush can provide data on keyword and ads (for organic and paid keywords) on your competition. You can find out which keywords others in your business are using, and include them in your growing list of search terms.
b. Google Keyword Planner: You used tool this in step 1 above to identify keywords which Google deemed relevant to your own site. Now, carry out this exercise using URLs of your competitors’ web stores.
c. Open Site Explorer: Investigate your competitor’s backlinks and find out which keywords are in their anchor texts. This works particularly well if you have competitors that have been around for many years and are performing very well in SEO terms.
Studying their link profiles and the keywords they target can offer clues for exploitation. Delete obviously irrelevant data, URLs and phrases like “click here.” Remove any duplicates, and then add the remaining data to your keyword list.
3. Take Action
From here, you can act on your data. The preparatory steps ensure that your actions will focus on the areas of highest ROI.
There are several steps in the action plan to dominate SERPs in each category, including:
- Content Marketing
- Topic marketing
- Positioning as an typical expert/authority
- Niche specialization (e.g. by Weather, Season or Trends)
And when you take action on your priority areas, you’ll see results very fast.
- Focusing on high search volume keywords will naturally bring in more visitors as your rankings improve.
- Improving page titles and meta descriptions for keywords that you’re already ranking for will lead to a higher click-through rate. By your research and planning, you know these are keywords that serious prospects are already clicking on to buy — from your competitors. Direct that traffic to your store instead.
- Focusing on long-tail keywords will deliver prospects to sections of your site designed to maximize sales and profit, where a few simple tweaks and techniques will ensure that your pages outrank the weak competition on SERPs.
I’m constantly surprised at how difficult most e-commerce web store owners and search marketing consultants make this process. With proper keyword research, analysis and targeting, you can enjoy traffic and revenue boosts, too.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.