How to Do SEO, Part 5: Analyze Keyword Data

Keyword research is a search engine optimization tactic to identify words and phrases from consumers looking for the types of products and services your business sells.

This post is the fourth payout in my "SEO How-to" series, as follows:

Think about keyword research when it comes to supply and demand. Every word on your site represents keyword supply. The words that people enter into Google and other search engines represent the demand. Keyword research is the process of determining the demand to customize your supply.

In this post, I will cover four steps: looking at keyword research, collecting the data, organizing the data into my free keyword analysis templateand analyze it to understand intent and demand.

Seeding Keywords Research

Keyword research tools rely heavily on a checklist – your choice of words that consumers search for. A comprehensive list of seeds provides the most data. A weak list generates fewer keyword themes and often leads to poor optimization decisions.

To brainstorm a checklist, start with the navigation on your site. An e-commerce site that is organized in a logical, hierarchical way will contain navigation options that cover all of its products. Your keyword research will tell you if these products match what people are looking for.

Create a list of all product categories – copy and paste directly from your menus. Then add synonyms and types and styles for these items.

For example, a website that prints images on mugs, wall art and greeting cards would include synonyms such as "photos" and "pictures" as well as popular product attributes such as size, occasion and style.

Don't be afraid to create a long keyword list with keywords. It may look daunting, but the process of collecting the keywords can go surprisingly quickly as you get started and the resulting data is pure gold.

You can also enter the URL of any page in Google's key planner, and it will retrieve relevant keywords. Therefore, identify pages that rank well for the keywords you need to rank for, and then list those URLs in your seed list.

Keyword data collection

Then press the sets of seed words in the input field of your keyword tool to understand the search needs of each. The process is simple and tedious.

Copy a set of seeds from your list and paste them into the tool. Wait until it is finalized, export the resulting data and repeat until you have entered all seeds.

When you are done transferring the seeds through the tool and exporting the data, you will have a lot of .csv or Excel files. Merging these manually would take forever. Use the command line in your operating system to access a computer merge .csv files in a single file. Do the same on a Mac i Terminal.

Enter the keyword template

Now you have very raw keyword data. But it has little value if you do not organize it for analysis.

That's where mine is free keyword analysis template – shown below – enters the game. It aggregates the Google Sheets keyword's demand for one-, two- and three-word combinations and displays that demand along with data from:

  • Google Search Console for approximating organic search volume per keyword combination.
  • Google ads for conversion potential estimates through keyword matching.
Use this template in Google Sheets to make sense of your keyword data.

Use this template in Google Sheets to make sense of your keyword data.

To use the template, copy the Google Sheet or download it as an Excel file. (Excel is the best option if you have more than 20,000 rows of data.)

Paste your keyword data in the "Google Keyword Planner" tab. For another keyword tool, just make sure the keywords are in column A and the number of monthly searches will be in column C. Both columns are referenced from the primary "Keyword Analysis" tab.

Then delete duplicate rows in keyword data. In Excel on a PC or Mac, go to the "Data" tab and select "Delete Duplicate." You can do same use numbers on a Mac.

Your keyword data is likely to contain many irrelevant words and phrases. Sort keyword data by number of searches, from highest to lowest. Review the top 300 or so (or until the number of searches drops below a level you think is valuable) and remove the related lines.

The tool can identify keywords that run many relevant searches but are not in your original watch list. If so, you may also want to consider running them through the tool.

Also download data sets from Google Search Console and Google Ads. Keyword volume is calculated as a monthly number. The other three tabs should therefore contain data for a whole month.

For reference, I've included a tab for Google Analytics data for organic search traffic (Acquisitions> All traffic> Channels> Organic search), even though I've excluded that information on the "Keyword Analysis" tab because Google Analytics reports traffic for URLs but not for organic keywords. Consequently, it cannot be compiled with the other sources.

Analyze keyword data

When you crop the irrelevant keywords from your dataset, you will probably notice patterns in individual keywords. Now it's time to quantify the broad patterns and compare them to each other to understand the value of the overall keyword theme.

Begin feeding seeds in columns A through C, as shown below. When you enter words into these columns, the formulas in the template calculate the keyword's demand (key planner), the current organic search performance (Search Console), and potential conversions (ads).

Enter the words in columns A to C. The template collects data from these columns.

Enter the words in columns A to C. The template collects data from these columns.

Scan the words to find patterns in keyword usage. Notice how demand and performance can be radically different for small variations when aggregated. For example, the monthly search volume for keywords containing both "present" and "image" is 121,460, while the volume for keywords containing both "present" and "image" is only 19,280.

Think of the analysis as an exploratory process. You can always add words or delete them if the ones you start with don't work. You are right when the amount of keyword demand matches the total demand on the "Keyword Planner" tab.

In particular, listen to the information and look for trends with an open mind. Do not try to prove the validity of your site's existing structure.

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