In the first instalment, The Importance of Keywords - Part 1 - I showed how you could use Google Suggest and Google AdWords to first collect, and then refine possible target keywords for your new website or internet marketing campaign. These tools will give you an indication of the popularity vs competitiveness of a given keyphrase but this is not the only basis on which to choose which terms to use.
Keyword Research - Google Analytics
The key to any campaign is to drive conversions - irrespective of how you define and measure a conversion. For an ecommerce website, it is sales. For a service based website, it might be completions of your enquiry form. While the first task is to get your website to rank well in the search engine results (SERPS), the next task is to get users to come to your website by clicking on the link in the search results. Measuring this is called the Click Through Ratio (CTR) - how many times your site was displayed in the results vs how many times somebody clicked on the link to your website. Keywords with a high CTR are desirable (but not the end of the story).
Google Analytics enables you to measure CTR. If you already have a website in the same or related field, then your website logs may give you a fairly good idea of which keywords are likely to be a good return on investment (ROI) via their CTR. Google Analytics, which is a free analytics software, will provide information on which keywords your site performs well for, and which keywords lead to conversions.
Firstly, lets take a look at CTR. In Google Analytics you will find this via Traffic Sources/Search Engine Optimisation/Queries (some people suggest Google doesn't like websites that use 'search engine optimisation' - if that was the case, why would Google Analytics include such a report! See Ethical SEO.) This reports on the terms users entered into Google search, how many times your website appeared in the SERPS for that term, and how many times someone clicked on your link in the results.
This report then shows you what terms users are actually using. There maybe keywords here, that you were unaware of. If so, these are keyword opportunities that it might be worthwhile exploring (especially if these terms appear popular). You can get good insight into how much effort it will take to rank well by looking at the value in the 'Average Position' column.
In this example, we see that these 10 search queries have a CTR of 100% - meaning every time they appeared in the search results a user clicked on the link to the website. This only equates to gold if these users subsequently convert, but nonetheless, 100% CTR shows this content is relevant to your potential audience.
If we look at number four on this example list, "magento add body class", we see that this site appeared 5 times in the search results for the given month, was clicked on every time (hence 100% CTR) and was on average 8.6 in Google's SERPS. The high CTR in this example is not that surprising, since this site has an article all about adding a "body class" to a Magento website. Nevertheless, this is a key phrase that looks like a good one to target.
Where looking at CTR can again pay dividends, is when, despite ranking well in the SERPS, your target keyword has a low CTR. This can mean one of many things. It might be that its the wrong keyword for you - check search volumes. If its really low, is it worth the bother? Is it an industry term that only insiders use? This keyword may be a candidate for culling, since you can't rank well for every keyword.
However, a low CTR could mean that there is something in the way your link appears in the search results that is unappealing, especially if its appearing often in the SERPS. Perhaps your page title and meta description lack a persuasive call to action? This kind of tweaking is referred to as Click Through Optimisation (CTO).
CTO is the topic for another post. However, we've covered three free methods of doing keyword research - Google Suggest, Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Using these tools you can begin to build a keyword spreadsheet that will form the basis of your content creation strategy.