Prioritizing Keyword Research For Conversion

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When conducting keyword research, most SEOs seek out the keywords that have the highest traffic potential along with the lowest level of difficulty. This usually includes a series of long-tails keywords that, at times, can seem either slightly off-topic or nearly duplicate. In the days of SEO-past, this turned into spinning variations of the same keyword into multiple pages and articles. A practice, by-the-way, that has little use in the SEO world today.

SEO Expert Joke

The problem with this approach to keyword research it that it is prioritized to traffic. Will the traffic convert? Who knows! There is a better way than this shotgun approach: Target the keywords that convert.

“Inconceivable”, you say! Google doesn’t pass along keyword information in the referral URL. This was an unfortunate change that was made years ago and has since haunted almost every SEO. What if I told you that there was a better way.

You can optimize for converting data without referral data.

A New Way To Research Keywords

To find the list of keywords that are converting you will need to bribe the website’s PPC specialist and possibly someone on the web dev team. May I suggest doughnut and coffee. Now that you’re on their good side, you’ll want to ask if they are tracking conversions in their AdWords account. If not, you will need to double up on the bribes and convince them to do so. If they are, and most accounts should be, then you will want a report from Google AdWords with the following info:

  1. Search terms
  2. Conversion
  3. Conversion Category (if you track multiple conversion types)

Be sure that the conversions are the conversion of the purchase I’ve come across conversion tracking based on events where one of the events was the purchase. You want the purchase.

Now that you have a CSV file with the AdWords data, go and collect your organic placement data. There are several sources for this. You can use Google Search Console, aHrefs, Moz, Stat, or whatever you favorite keyword reporting tool is. For extra credit, you can use an export from multiple sources, combine the files, sort by position, and remove duplicates (this can all be done in Excel).

At this point, you’ll want to download a free piece of software from Microsoft called “Power BI”. This software will allow you to map both the search terms from Google Analytics and the keywords from your organic rank tracking software. It will do all of the heavy lifting for you. If your Google AdWords reports or ranking reports are too large for CSV, you can always use your favorite database and connect it to Power BI.

Mapping Conversions And Organic Placements With Power BI

After launching Power BI, click the “Get Data” button and select the file type that you’re using for the AdWords data. The most common will be .csv. Select your file and make sure that everything looks good in the preview window prior to importing. Then do the same process with your organic search report.

You’ll see both your GA and KW report in the right-hand pane.

Now that both of your files are imported, you need to map the search terms with the organic queries. This is what makes the magic happen. This will exact-match the search terms from both reports and lineup the conversion data and positions together.

Click the “Modeling” tab.

Click “Manage Relationships”

Select “New”

You will be shown a screen with two empty windows. In the drop-down above the top window, select your GA report. If you are only working with two data sources, the second source will automatically be selected in the second drop-down. Select the search term column in the first window along with the organic search terms in the second window.

Power BI Managing Relationships

I won’t go over what all of these options mean, but just copy what’s selected here:

Now you have created a relationship between the two data sources by using the search terms and the common link. Now, when you select “Search Terms” and “Conversions” from the Google Analytics data source along with the “Placements” in your organic report and you can see what Google AdWords search terms that have conversions also have organic placements. Better yet, you can see what search terms you have second or third-page placements. If you were to concentrate on boosting the position in those terms, it is likely that those organic terms will convert.

Here is a screenshot where I sorted the search terms by highest conversions. Because this is live client data, I blurred out the search terms, but you can see that I’m able to quickly identify search terms that have some great up-side opportunity for the client.

Power BI Search Term Prioritizing

Here are a few extra tips:

  1. You will probably want to exclude branded search terms if you’re already ranking for those terms. If not, protect your brand first as those usually convert quite well, especially if you are executing any type of branding, middle-funnel, or top-funnel marketing
  2. You should click the carrot next to “Position”, under “Values”, and then select “minimum” instead of the default “sum”. This will make sure that the minimum position is display and not a count of placements. (Just trust me on this)
  3. Often, you will want to use the filter to do things such as only show placements where conversions are greater than zero and organic placements are not blank.
  4. The more historical data the better. Personally, I prefer to have a year’s worth of AdWords data. If you are limited to only a few months then you can still get some great ideas. Just be aware that some search terms can be cyclical.
  5. You can also sort by organic position and get an idea of just how valuable your top 10 organic listings are. Do your top placements actually convert? Run this report and find out!

Now, it’s your turn

By harnessing the basics of Power BI, you can now get a clear picture of what keywords you should be attacking. With this new laser-focus, it will much easier for your SEO efforts to be much more fruitful. The best part in all of this. . . it’s free. So, go and download Power BI, get that data, and be more efficient!

Matthew Post

Beginning his career as a website developer and SEO in the late 90s, Matthew Post takes a data-driven approach in SEO and CRO. In 2018, he co-founded SEM Dynamics to focus on his passion for assisting local businesses increase their reach.

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