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Keyword Analysis to Improve SEO Ranking

One of the most frequent questions an SEO gets asked is why is my site not ranking?

Ranking well in the search results means higher visibility, a bigger stream of organic traffic into your website and a cost-effective return on your investment in SEO. So it’s definitely a question that needs to be asked if your current SEO strategy isn’t delivering the results you need. If you are also asking yourself the questions why is no one visiting my site or fundamentally, why isn’t my site doing enough business, then it’s time to perform an SEO audit  to provide all the answers to the questions which arise from an underperforming SEO strategy.

Now, a full SEO audit is a massive undertaking. We ourselves follow a 5 stage process involving around 60 different steps, tasks or processes and this generally takes a full day or, often, much more depending upon the complexity. Frankly, we’re not anticipating holding your attention and keeping you captivated for this long (we worry about the detail so you don’t have to), that’s why we’re going to break it down into small chunks to keep the excitement up.

The first thing we would do in response to the questions posed in the opening paragraph is get straight into Google Analytics to find the immediate answers. Generally, when a site isn’t doing the business it expects online, it’s for one of three reasons:-

  • The website isn’t getting any/enough traffic.
  • The website is getting the wrong sort of traffic.
  • The website is getting the traffic but not converting that traffic into business.

We’ll cover undertaking an Analytics SEO Audit in another post but for today’s Guinea Pig site, we haven’t got access to Analytics, so we’re jumping straight into Stage 2. The site owner has said that the site is not doing enough business and, although we haven’t got Analytics access, because the site is on Shopify, we can validate that it is not getting much traffic and we need to find out why.

Getting your site, or more precisely your pages, to rank in Google relies on 4 key factors:-

  • Accessibility – Can a Search Engine or a User access your pages?
  • Indexability – Are your pages being indexed by the Search Engines?
  • On-Page Ranking Factors – How are the characteristics of your pages influencing the search engines, i.e., how well are you pages optimised?
  • Off-Page Ranking Factors – What does the rest of the World Wide Web think of your site?

Naturally, our 5 stage process focuses around these 4 important areas, however there is one important area not included in the above list which is probably the most fundamental of all, namely the keywords or phrases you are trying to rank for. Your site could tick all of our 60 or so boxes and score 99 out of 100 in our test but if you’re trying to rank for highly competitive keywords and you’re competing with much bigger, older and stronger competitors, the chances are you’re not going to rank or get much traffic. On the other hand if you rank really well for a group of keywords that the site owner thought were highly important in his industry but nobody else searches for, then you’re not going to get many visitors.

Ideally, the site owner will provide a list of well researched keywords which are highly relevant to their particular business, making our SEO audit job that much easier, however in most cases you need to dig a bit deeper.

The first place we like to start is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. You can simply paste the url of you target site into the tool and it will compile a list of keywords that it thinks are relevant to that particular page and/or website. Let’s have a go.

Keyword Analysis Using the Keyword Planner

We can then look at the site and see what it is trying to tell Google what it is all about. The first place we can check is the title tags, which are the titles of each page, which you might see in the top of your browser window. These are also the titles you might see on a Google Search Page.

How Title Tags Appear

How Title Tags Appear

We use Screaming Frog and Moz to crawl the site and these give us nice reports with the title tag and description in a excel file. We can then add these to the Keyword Tool to see if people are searching for these terms and how valuable they are. Here we go:-

Keyword Analysis of Sites Target Keywords Using KW Planner

The keyword tool gives us rough estimates of the number of searches for each term, something like this:-

Keyword Tool Results

The Results of our Title Tags entered into the keyword tool

Here we can see that some terms, like products or contact us but in terms of relevance for our Guinea Pig site, they are not really going to help them in a Google Search. We can also see that a lot of the terms they are focusing their pages on a Product Names or SKU’s, which might be helpful for this site as, unless it is a well recognised, popular and searched for product, not many people will search for them.

Finally, for now, we look at SEMrush, which is a goldmine of amazing competitor data for both organic and paid search. They have a free tool as well as a paid for subscription with a lot more features. Here, by quickly analysing our Guinea pig site, we can see that it has not yet featured on SEMrush’s radar, which is pretty much what we expected after the two previous steps.

Keyword Analysis using SEMrush

Now, we can gather all our data and see where we are ranking. Obviously there’s little point in looking at rankings for terms where there are no searches and we also need to bear in mind that, until we do proper keyword research, we won’t know how relevant or viable these terms are, but we can, at least, see why, in this case, the site is not getting many visitors.

site audit keyword rankings

Keyword rankings for the terms we found

The good news is that they do have two rankings, albeit one on page 2 for a term with very little search volume and one on page 3 for a term with a few searches, but more probably these are people looking for something else, for instance, an obscure Russian Aeroplane.

Now that we have established all of this, we need to work out why the site is not ranking. We’ll look at the next stage in a future post in our series, where we look at another guinea pig site, but, for now, to put you out of your suspense, we’ll take a quick look at why this site has very little search visibility. Firstly, we’re aware that this is a brand new site, the domain was only registered in January, just 4 months ago and the site was launched a little later. Secondly, back to our friends, the Moz and Screaming Frog Crawls. As we can see, the title tags contain none of those juicy keywords and are populated by terms only enthusiasts of obscure Russian Aeroplanes might stumble across, and there is total lack of content or keyword focus across the site. Anyway, at least we know what one of our first jobs needs to be.

Conclusion of our SEO Audit Stage 2 Keyword Analysis

So, there you go, the second stage of our SEO Audit. Getting traffic to your website is not a simple task and understanding why certain sites/pages do and certain ones don’t is a multifaceted operation. It is very rare that changing one single thing will make all the difference, but, as we can see here, if you don’t start from the right place everything else pales into comparison.