Last week myself, our MD Aidan Cook and Marketing Director Martin Calvert participated in the latest Search Leaders Masterclass.
Held at the Etihad stadium, it was a great opportunity to talk SEO with a wide range of digital experts and lead discussions on a few of our own perspectives on the future of search and content marketing.
One of the most topics that came up repeatedly was the need for SEO professionals to be better resourced when it comes to setting strategy, and the problematic focus on individual rankings as the main measure of success.
The problem with using rankings as a measurement KPI is that people tend to focus on the success or failure of a single ranking.
Let’s use the keyword “Blinds” as an example.
This keyword is responsible for 90,500 searches a month according to SEMrush (and for the purpose of this article that is the measurement tool I am using). That is a large amount of searches.
The Value of SEO Keywords
It is easy to see why anybody would get fixated with that. Move me to position 1 for this and we get more sales. Simple – but that’s not the full story.
As an SEO professional, you know that the term “Blinds” is important, but you know too that the sum of the search volume of other related phrases such as “Roman Blinds”, “Window Blinds” and “Roller Blinds” has a combined total search volume much larger than that of just “Blinds”,
SEO professionals know that searches using more detailed terms such as these indicate an intent to buy, and so traffic that lands on a site from these keywords is more likely to convert.
This is a straightforward example, and one that most executives will take on board, but what about when you consider FAQs, or long-tail phrases that are several words long that still have create significant volume of searches?
Getting agreement within your company that these phrases are just as (if not more) important as part of a genuinely strategic SEO plan can difficult, and means introducing a new way of thinking.
SEO Keyword Opportunity Analysis
At Blueclaw our strategies focus on maximising the return of client investment, so one of the first bits of analysis completed on any new account is the Keyword Opportunity Analysis.
The purpose of this report isn’t to identify the individual target keywords, but to identify the value and opportunity around the keyword clusters that sit associated with domain, and could be leveraged to deliver greater levels of profitable traffic.
It is an easily understood report and can provide great insight for your strategy. It is put together using a combination of SEMrush and Excel Pivot Tables – but you could use aHrefs or any other tool that gives you a breakdown of the rankings your site holds and the URLs associated with the ranking.
We’ll get to how you’d go about creating one later in this blog, but this is what a report looks like:
What does a Keyword Opportunity Analysis report uncover?
So firstly, I have filtered the data to only give me keywords ranking in positions between 5 and 20.
I consider these to be the keywords that will drive the quickest wins for a business if moved up, and will help us generate the most traffic.
The first column is the URLs that hold all keyword ranking clusters, the second is a summary of how many keywords (ranking between 5 and 20) are associated with that URL.
In the below example example.co.uk/curtains/ has 64 separate keywords associated with the URL, ranking 5 to 20:
The monthly search volume is the sum of all the search volume associated with the keywords associated with that page.
In the table below example.co.uk/curtains/ has a total search volume of 170,850 in opportunity positions.
The theory follows that by increasing the importance, authority and value of these pages in the eyes of search engines, then rankings associated with each page will improve – delivering more traffic.
The final two columns help you decide which pages to go after and set the priority. In the example blow example.co.uk/curtains/ clearly has the most search volume associated with it, but it is also the most competitive and on average the furthest up the second page.
Example.co.uk /blinds-range/roller-blinds/ however has a strong amount of search volume associated with it, an average position on the verge of page 1 and a slightly lower difficulty out of these 10 pages:
Finally using the small plus (+) next to the url on a pivot table will give you access to view all of the keywords associated with the page:
This gives the complete view for analysis, you can compare the keywords that would be affected by an increase in authority associated with that page and workout if there are any onsite changes that can be made to that URL that might assist the increase of these rankings.
Changing the SEO reporting focus
Using these reports to represent progress internally can be a challenge, but as a visual aid it has worked well for us to show clients that although we focus on their target keywords, we look at the bigger picture.
The fact is, small individual ranking movements are not important if you are making sustainable progress to increase the search result positions of these pages and the rankings you win due to a profitable cluster of keywords.
To adopt this approach yourself, we have built a pretty powerful tool in Excel for you to use, based on the combination of pivot tables and a SEMrush csv.
Just follow the step by step instructions on the spreadsheet, paste your data and hit refresh. The template will help you do the analysis detailed above, and help build the case for targeting keyword clusters – not individual keywords.
If you don’t have a SEMrush account or if you have any questions, just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help. Any and all feedback on the Keyword Cluster Tool is appreciated!