The Keyword Audit

Using the right keyword on the right page

When it comes to building a strong SEO strategy, one of the most important starting points is to consider is the use of effective keywords.

There are a number of tools that give us a ton of data on keywords. Two of the tools we use are Moz and Google Keyword Planner. The abundance of available data about keywords can sometimes be difficult to navigate. However, there is a way to organize all this information in order to draw out valuable conclusions that can eventually lead to actionable steps in improving your On Page SEO.

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"It is one thing to get a whole bunch of data from these automatic audit tools, but then what do you do with it. Catanich not only conducted a very detailed site audit on our eight year old site, but then they explained in detail what we needed to do to use it." -- Jerry Baken, Synergistics, LLC.

The Consolidated Keyword List

Digital Marketing is based on keywords. A website must reflect the keywords your market user is searching for. Therefore, the road forward is knowing what keyword to use, where to use the keywords and what variants should be used. In short...

  • Create a list of what you have now
  • Create a list of what you would like to have
  • Create a competitor's keyword list by competitor

From the consolidated list, you now obtain "long tail keyword phrases" from tools like AdWords Keyword Tool, etc.

The Existing Web Page List

Since most of the websites are now mature and contain many pages, it is important for create a list of pages to work from. The quickest way we've found is to create a texted based, site map and save it in MS Excel. Although there are many tools available, we currently use:

Once run on your site, it will give you a list by page of the currently assigned Page Title, Page Description & Page Keyword. From this list, questions need to be asked and resolved:

  • Does the keyword assigned match the page content?
  • Does the keyword assigned match the page title?
  • Does the keyword assigned match the page description?
  • Does the keyword assigned match the page H1 tag?
  • Are the duplicate keywords assigned to a single page?
  • Is there a single keyword phrase assigned to multiple pages?

Keyword Index

Finally, a new column is added to the Excel matrix, "new Primary Keyword" where the new keyword is added that is assigned to that page where there is no duplicates. Optionally, a second column can be added for a "new secondary keyword".

From this final assignment, all on-page SEO will use this keyword matrix as a guide.


Notes

Keyword Cannibalism

Keyword cannibalism describes the situation where your site has multiple pages that target the same keyword. When multiple pages target a keyword, it creates confusion for the search engines, and more importantly, it creates confusion for visitors.

To identify cannibalism, you should create a keyword index that maps keywords to pages on your site. Then, when you identify collisions (i.e., multiple pages associated with a particular keyword), you can merge the pages or repurpose the competing pages to target alternate (and unique) keywords.

Relevant Keywords

Pull out all the words you are currently tracking from your SEO management tool. Generally they'll have the option to export into a Excel spreadsheet, making it much easier to track. If you're starting from scratch, list the most relevant words and phrases your customer might be searching for. Think about what kind of questions do they want answers for, and what kind of pain points are they trying to solve. Furthermore, consider your customer's questions about your industry, best practices about certain processes, and how-to guides. Google Keyword Planner also has a specific search that allows you to plug in your website URL and receive suggested keywords for the content that already exists on your site. Keep in mind that this tool is housed in Google Ad works, so if you don't already have an account you will need to create one. You don't necessarily have to start an ad works campaign in order to utilize the keyword planner. At this first stage of keyword auditing, simply brainstorm all the possible ideas that are highly relevant to your business. Over the next few steps, I'll break down this list down to the ones that are most likely to be effective in your SEO strategy.

Keyword Difficulty

Next, check the difficulty of the keyword you are trying to rank for. The Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool allows you to input up to 20 keywords at a time. According to research done by Moz, generally speaking a ranking over 40% is difficult to rank for. Narrow down your initial list using this metric. There are also a number of free marketing tools to help your gauge keyword difficulty, such as the one developed by WebSEO.

Keyword Search Volume

Finally, do some research on how many people are searching for each keyword. For this, you can use Google Keyword Planner tool as well. There is a specific search for keyword volume where you can manually input a list of keywords, or upload a CVS life. As a result, you will receive data on the number of searches conducted each month for each keyword. You can also add filters to you searches, so that you get the most relevant results for you. An example of this would be to change the setting from worldwide searches, to national searches. In your results, you will also notice a column in Google Keyword Planner called "competition". This is not an indication of keyword difficulty. It is instead the competition between ad works bidders who are paying for that keyword. This is a helpful metric if you plan on using your keywords in ad works campaigns.