Uncovering the Keywords You’re Missing Out On

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So, you’ve run your chosen business terms through a keyword research tool and come up with a few potential phrases that will form the basis of your on-site and off-site SEO campaigns.  That’s a great start, but relying too heavily on a single tool could set you up for failure when it comes to properly managing your site’s optimization.  Here’s why…

Say you’ve chosen to focus on ten specific keyword phrases that you feel provide the best opportunity to connect with your target customers through the natural search results.  But what if you’ve missed a few potential variations, simply because they weren’t served up by your research tool of choice?  Or, worse yet, what if you’ve missed these terms, but your competitors haven’t – and they’re currently enjoying a flood of traffic that you should have a part of?

Really, keyword research shouldn’t be a one-off process that’s carried out upon your site’s creation and never revisited again.  Instead, uncovering potential keywords and keyword variations to target through your website’s SEO campaigns should be an ongoing, continuous part of proper website management.

With that in mind, the following are a few potential sources that can be used to uncover the keywords you’re currently missing out on:

Google Webmaster Tools

When it comes to keyword research, one place that you absolutely must go to look for new target keyword ideas is your Google Webmaster Tools account.

Once inside, navigate to the “Traffic” section and then click on “Search Queries” to view a partial list of the different keyword phrases for which your website has appeared in Google’s natural search results.

One of the reasons you’ll want to pay particular attention to this list is that these rankings may help you to identify keywords you aren’t currently targeting, but that you’re ranking for in the SERPs anyways.  Optimizing your website around these words should make it easier to claim higher rankings more quickly than it’d be to launch a campaign around an entirely new keyword phrase.

In the example above, the fourth keyword on the list holds an average position of #9 – where it still receives a 7% click-through rate.  If the sample site in question isn’t already targeting this specific keyword, adding a few optimization elements based around this phrase could help the site to increase its rank quickly and capture a larger percentage of these potential clicks.

Google Analytics

Another fascinating place to look for keyword ideas is within your website’s Google Analytics account.  To do this, click on the “Traffic” section of your website’s dashboard and then click through the “Sources” link to the “Search -> Organic” section.   There, you’ll find another list of the individual search queries that are currently sending traffic to your website:

Again, if you aren’t currently targeting any of the keywords listed in this report, consider doing so, as you’ll find it easier to build traction with the phrases you’re already ranking for than with totally new keywords.  Of course, you’ll still want to measure whether or not the traffic that arrives from these new keywords performs well once on your website, but consider this a great starting place for identifying the phrases you’re currently missing out on.

Google Related Searches

While both of the Google methods described above will help you to identify keywords and keyword phrases that you’re currently receiving traffic for (which will likely be based on the existing content of your website or promotional efforts), what if you want to take your keyword focus in an entirely different direction?

If you want to expand both the keyword and content focus of your website, one great place to look for new ideas is the “Related Searches” feature built into Google’s natural search results.

To access this information, type one of your target keywords into the Google search bar and hit “Enter.”  Then, scroll down to the bottom of the search results where you’ll see a list of phrases that Google considers to be related to the keyword you entered initially.  In this case, the following example was generated using the keyword phrase, “dog training”:

If my site was targeting “dog training,” but not any of these related searches, they would definitely warrant further research.  Not only do these related searches represent potential new opportunities to secure organic traffic, optimizing for these new phrases would also help to support the SEO efforts I’m already carrying out for my initial target keyword of “dog training,” as Google deems these specific phrases to be related.

Soovle

Soovle is a fun, free research tool that doesn’t get used nearly as often as it should.  To use this service, simply enter one of your existing target keywords into the search field.  As you’re typing, the service automatically loads suggested search queries from each of the major search engines (as well as a few extra properties like Wikipedia and Netflix), giving you a well-rounded look at some of the keywords you might currently be missing.

Competitive Analysis Programs

Now, this is where things start to get fun!  Remember, the whole idea behind uncovering the keywords you’re missing out on is to eliminate the possibility that your competitors are targeting phrases that could be profitable for you as well.  So if we want to find these missed opportunities, we need to go straight to the source to find out which keywords they’re currently targeting!

One of the best programs for this is Spyfu, which offers both free and paid services for competitive keyword research.  To begin using the program, enter the URL of one of your competitors into the search bar found on the site’s home page.  This will bring up a report that contains the following data:

The example above was generated using “singlegrain.com” as the test URL, so the list of organic keywords reflects phrases that are already used on our website.  However, if you ran the same search for one of your competitors, you’ll have immediate access to some of the keywords that the Spyfu program deems most important on their website.  You’ll also see a list of competitors (to supplement the one that you should have already), which will give you additional ideas for sites you can mine for new keyword research data.

Obviously, any information you find here should be taken with a grain of salt.  Just because a specific organic keyword shows up in a competitor’s list doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good fit for your own marketing campaigns.  Be sure to check the phrase’s search volume and overall competitiveness before making the decision to include it in your own SEO efforts.

Different keyword research tools

One final option to consider when it comes to keyword research is to simply start generating data from a new keyword research tool.  Too many webmasters – when they approach the process of keyword research – wind up married to a single tool whose results they treat like the gospel of search volume and average competitiveness.  However, it’s worth noting that various tools draw from separate data sets entirely, giving you results that are significantly different than your initial query set.

So if you really want the best odds at generating the most comprehensive set of target keywords possible, you’ll do yourself a serious favor by comparing the data from at least two separate keyword research tools, including any from the following list:

Running your search queries through several of these programs should give you a broader view of different possible target keywords for your SEO campaigns.  When combined with the techniques described above, this process should enable your website to capture a greater number of high natural search result rankings and drive an even larger number of new visitors to your website.

Image: @NYCPhotos-flickr

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