Websites can require a considerable amount of time to be optimized. The inclusion of social media into search results means a website will probably go unnoticed without a marketing or social media campaign. Creating a marketing effort is easy if you have a team. It can be daunting for small business owners that do not have a lot of time. But with patience, a small business can gather some keyword ideas quickly, then decide how to implement them over time.
Audit and compare your keyword terms
Go into your web analytics account and examine visits and time-on-site data of your keywords. You are gaining a sense for what has (and hasn’t) attracted visits. Note trends for increasing visits, a reasonable time on page/site (1-2 minutes is pretty good for a page), or a repeated appearance of a keyword. Trends are preferable to sudden spikes. Download the keywords you have gained over a past period. 90 days of data is a great starting point (but not an absolute). If you are not sure how to get started using Google Analytics, here’s an interview I did with Melinda Emerson earlier this year.
Now go into Google Adwords Manager or Microsoft Adcenter Manager. Both platforms can scan your site and return a query list of words based on the site content.
Next compare this generated list to the keyword report you have examined — you are now looking for scanned words that appear on your analytic list but really did not generate significant search traffic. These identified words are now the keywords on which you can focus your improvement efforts. A keyword density check can give further refinement, useful for a very long list.
An additional check is a site search, applicable if your site has a search window. Site search reports differ from search engine reports. The keywords in a search report are the content phrases used in a search engine; In short, a visitor saw the phrase and arrived on the site.
A site search report differs by showing keywords searched by visitors in the search box on your site. A site search analysis can reveal terms repeatedly sought but never found, leading to visitor loss. Site search reports are particularly useful for blogs, e-commerce, and sites with a considerable amount of content.
You can compare the site search reports against your search keywords results. Are there words or phrases that draw people initially the exit the site? Do these words appear consistently month after month? Repeated appearance means that your site is overlooking a topic or time that visitors expect. In short you are leaving money on the table.
Make a plan to put those words to work
With these overviews compiled into one list, you now have a set of words on which to focus your traffic building strategy. This makes the effort a bit daunting if the list is long. But the good news compared to years past is that social media has added to the ways you can go about increasing the discovery of your site. Here are a few ideas:
- Create a paid search campaign (or PPC) that includes your target words. You can review competitiveness and plan a trial budget in your ad manager. Using paid campaigns can increase click through in many cases when a word appears on a search result in the organic and paid search results.
- Are some words beyond your paid search budget? See if any of the words are used as a Twitter hashtag, then use these words in a Twitter strategy. You can try a specialty search engine such as 48ers to see Twitter-related query results. If the target word is a broad topic, consider joining a twitterchat based on that word.
- Does the list spark a few ideas for new articles? Try writing new blog posts that incorporate these words in the title and text (Note: make sure your blog is hosted at the same service as your website to gain search benefits).
- Consider if the title, meta description, H1 tags, and anchor text in your webpage code can be updated with the words you have selected. You can use the word in image descriptions as well.
Optimization takes time, but using a working plan, you can keep your website up to date until the next redesign.
Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana (www.zimana.com), a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and midsize businesses that rely on Web analytics data.