- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On May 16, 2016
I’m using our website as a Guinea pig. This is the first post based on my findings from that work.
This week I was researching how to choose keywords for our site based on the technique described in this post by Robbie Richards. The approach that Robbie recommends uses an SEO tool I had heard of but not used called SEMrush.
The findings from the audit were surprising. My guess is there’s a good chance that you may learn something valuable about your website if you followed the same process.
Getting back on the page
We’ve been focusing on “off page” SEO recently so I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about Internet directories and review sites. But I haven’t spent so much time on the “more traditional” on site factors such as keywords and inbound links.
A few months ago we launched a new website and ported this blog over to it. Since then we’ve been focusing on writing quality content here but with our content machine running smoothly it was time to see how we were doing on the search engines.
The usual suspect
The way I’ve analyzed keywords in the past is to use Google’s very own (and free) Keyword Planner. It’s a good tool but as I was reading Robbie Richards’ post I realized there was another way.
This “other way” avoids “reinventing the wheel”. It removes much of the guesswork I was doing trying to figure out which keywords to start my research with on Keyword Planner.
The process uses the SEMRush tool. With SEMRush you type in the domain of one of your competitors and the tool tells you all the keywords your competitor uses, where they rank and what the volume and competition is for those keywords.
On the face of it that’s not so earth shattering. You can always look in people’s source code and figure out their keywords or look at their web page titles but there’s something about having all that information laid out neatly that helps the brain or at least mine.
Using this approach you don’t have to guess at keywords in a vacuum. You can quickly research all the keywords your competitors use and start listing the ones you want based on their search volume, competitiveness and how relevant they are to your own particular situation.
We rank for what?
I also found it very informative to run SEMRush on our own website. What I found on our site was a surprise.
We’ve been consistently writing blog posts for a while now without spending a lot of time on keyword research. What SEMRush highlighted to me is that we’re now “successfully” starting to rank for keywords that are not actually relevant to our business objectives.
For example I wrote a series of posts on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. These posts may have helped some people in our audience be more effective but the side effect is that we are ranking for keywords like “habit 2”. Not my plan when I wrote these posts.
Time for some cornerstones?
So now what? We’ve got a bunch of posts moving up the rankings for keywords that are not optimized for our business.
One solution could be to go back and change the titles of all these blog posts and indeed we may do some of that. But I like another concept that I learned from Copyblogger called “cornerstone content”. And I think we will start there.
Cornerstone content pulls together much of your existing work into a more “highly concentrated” form. The result is a web page that contains your best content on a given topic. This page is then carefully optimized for one of your important target keywords.
Since these “cornerstone” pages are so packed with high quality content they are more likely to attract inbound links and rank well for the single keyword they focus on. They are also more likely to be shared on social media.