Keyword research: How to find keywords to target with an established site

Here’s a quick and dirty guide to finding the keywords your established site should target next.

Let’s say your site has been live for a year. It was optimized when it was built, but your traffic from search isn’t what you’d like it to be. Nothing has been optimized since, and you’re wondering where to start. Here’s what I’m doing for a client in that same situation.

Create an initial list

First, gather up all the keywords the site was optimized for when it was built. If you don’t have that information, just think up some words the site should probably rank for. If you have no idea, do not pass go and head straight to analytics. In analytics, get the keywords driving traffic to the site currently. If you use GA, you’ll want to head over to Traffic Sources –> Keywords and then hit Export and choose CSV.

Add Some Helpful Data

Add your keywords from analytics to your original keyword list in Excel. Then add three columns to the spreadsheet. They should be labelled Ranking, Traffic and Difficulty.

As you find the rankings for these keywords, go ahead and add which URL ranks for each keyword. You might find that the wrong URLs are ranking, which is an area of opportunity.

Sort the Keywords

Find traffic and difficulty before you do ranking. Cull the keywords with too-high traffic and too-low traffic to be worth targeting.

For the remaining keywords, find your current rankings. Cull any keywords for which you’re already ranking number one.

This should leave you with keywords that are already driving traffic, have low difficulty and high traffic. These are the keywords you should target next.

Rootin’ shooting photo by brentdanley.

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