Welcome back to the second part of our beginner’s guide to keyword research. In part one of the guide we discussed:
- The importance of gaining a wide scale view of the site you want to optimise through crawling it.
- Developing a keyword map to visualise and organise your optimisation efforts in an easy and scalable way.
- Gathering historic ranking data from your website through Google webmaster tools.
- Downloading historic Adwords keyword data.
- Gathering in-site search data to understand what users search for on your site.
In this second part of the guide we will look at how to extend, clean and combine this data into a single, relevant keyword list, how to expand the list even further through keyword discovery, and finally how to select target keywords for your website.
Step 7: Organising Your Historic Data
If you are optimising a new website or were not able to gather data through steps three, four and five in part one of the guide you can skip this step.
If you followed part one of the guide (and assuming that you are performing keyword research for an existing site with the above information available), then at this point you should have a significant amount of data to work with.
Step 7a: Extending the data
At this point you have three very different sets of data.
- Webmaster tools will give you keywords, clicks, impressions, average ranking and average click through rate (CTR).
- Adwords (depending on your setup) will provide you with keywords, clicks, CTR, impressions, cost per click (CPC), Cost etc.
- In-site search will give you the keywords, the number of searches, the number of results page views per search and so on.
Using the Google keyword planner, research and find the average monthly search volume for the keywords in each data set, and insert them into the relevant spreadsheets.
In addition to the number of actual visits/searches/clicks each keyword represents, you should now also have an idea of the total opportunity size of each keyword too.
Step 7b: Cleaning the data
Now comes perhaps the most time consuming part (depending on how much data you have). Assuming you do have a lot of data, you will need to be ruthless in cutting the list down. The following steps are our recommendations on making the list more manageable, but please remember to use your own judgement above all.
- Read through the keywords and identify question-based or long-tail terms that could be targeted through blog content. Set these aside in a separate spreadsheet for your content team. To get the most out of your content you may also want to read our blog: How to create content with consumer science in mind.
- Delete all keywords with 0 average searches per month.
- Sort through all the keywords, deleting any that are not relevant to the company or its service offerings.
- Delete any misspellings of keywords.
Step 7c: Combining the data
At this point, you should have managed to cut your keyword list down by a reasonable amount, and only have relevant (correctly spelled) keywords with at least 10 searches per month left. Next you need to combine the data from each of the three sheets.
Using the WMT sheet as the base sheet, copy the keyword, search volume and clicks/searches columns from the Adwords and in-site search sheets and paste them in the WMT sheet.
Tip 4: At this point you may wish to colour the cells from the Adwords and in-site search sheets in case you wish to identify them later on.
Step 8: Identify More Keywords with Keyword Planner
Now that you have a full list of relevant historic keywords, it is time to conduct further research to identify any relevant, frequently searched keywords that your website may not currently rank for using Google Keyword Planner.
Tip 5: It is also important to note that Google keyword planner only allows 1,000 keywords to be inputted at a time and, as such, several searches may be required if your keyword list exceeds this.
There are three methods for doing this.
Method One: Page by Page Keyword Research
Firstly, you can insert the URLs of your website’s pages one by one into the ‘Your landing page’ field, after which Google will crawl your page and suggest relevant keywords based on its content. The benefit of this is more granular data, allowing you to effectively organise your keywords on a page by page basis. The drawbacks are the time it takes (especially for large sites) and, if your page is not well optimised or is thin on content, Google may not recommend relevant keywords.
Method Two: Bulk Keyword Research
The second way to identify more keywords with keyword planner is to paste your keywords from step 7 into the ‘Your product or service’ field. The benefit of this method is that it is the quickest way to gain additional keyword ideas. However the drawbacks of this method are that it does not provide keyword data on a page by page basis and, if the keywords inserted en bulk are diverse, Google may not provide all possible relevant keywords.
Method Three: Group Keyword Research
The third and final method is to separate your existing keyword list into groups of closely related keywords, and paste these into keyword planner. The benefit of this method is that it minimises the risk of missing keywords as described in the second method. However, the drawback is that it is also time consuming.
Select whichever of the above three methods is most appropriate to you, and download any relevant, high volume keywords you identify and add them to your existing list. At this point, you should have a very comprehensive list of potential target keywords for your site.
If, for any reason, you feel you could use more keywords, we recommend using http://keywordtool.io/ in conjunction with your existing list and the methods above to find more.
Step 9: Selecting Target Keywords
Now that you have an extensive list of relevant target keywords, it’s time to reopen your Skeleton Keyword Map from part one of this guide. Your keyword map should have a separate row for each page of your website, and an adjoining row for target keywords for each page.
On a page by page basis, sort through your keyword list and select the top 2-3 relevant keywords with the highest search volume, and insert them into the page’s target keyword cell (note that brand keywords should be included where relevant regardless of search volume). Repeat this for each page listed in your keyword map. Once finished, you should have 2-3 target keywords for every page on your website. If, for any reason, some pages do not have target keywords, we recommend that you use Step 8 – Method One alongside http://keywordtool.io/ as mentioned above to identify the most relevant, high volume target keyword possible for the remaining pages.
Tip 6: To ensure the same keyword is not inserted as a target keyword for multiple pages, we recommend colouring the cells of a keyword once it has been used.
That concludes part two of our Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research. What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions you would like to add? If so please share them in the comments below. The third and final part of this guide will follow soon, so check back for the latest!
Click on the image below to read part 1 of our Keyword Research Guide