The Marketing Manager’s Guide to Checking Keyword Performance

Tim Holdsworth
Posted by Tim Holdsworth on February 5, 2015


You’re a B2B marketer, which probably means you’re pulled in 100 directions and have a to-do list a few miles long. So there are things that are consistently at the bottom of your list. Things like organizing the files from the big project that wrapped up 3 months ago, compiling metrics from your last email campaign, deleting all those pesky unread emails... Oh, and checking on keyword performance. Yeah, you’ve been meaning to get to that.

You know monitoring keywords is important for your online marketing. You know you should be putting more effort into tracking them. And, let’s be honest, at some point you’ve probably tiptoed your way through a conversation about how they’re performing.

Well, it’s time to make this bottom-of-the-list task a priority and keep it a priority. According to a study from BrightEdge, organic search drives 51% of traffic for B2B marketers, compared to non-organic search channels which contribute far less to total traffic.

So, a site optimized with appropriate keywords is more likely to be discovered by the right users, which increases the chance they will turn into real, paying customers. But to make (and keep) your site and its content visible and relevant for your audience, you need to stay on top of keyword performance.

Establish Your Baseline

If you haven’t documented a baseline for keyword and page performance, it’s time to do so — because you can’t measure how you’ve improved/not improved if you don’t even know where you started.

There are multiple tools available to pull this data, including Google Analytics, HubSpot and others. Each is organized slightly differently in terms of how to access data and what it’s called, but in general terms, the following is what you’ll want to start with in terms of measuring organic (unpaid) traffic for your site overall:

  • Keyword Performance and Rankings. This data will tell you how your site and web pages rank in search engines for your designated search terms.

  • Search Traffic. This will tell you the number of visitors who come to your site from a search engine results page.

  • Search Terms Providing Traffic. What keywords and phrases visitors are using to get to your site, and how much organic traffic those terms drive. You should pay particular attention to which non-branded keyword phrases (no mention of company name, products, or services) drive the most organic traffic to your website as they are how the “general population” may be finding you versus those who already know you.

  • Search Conversion Rate. What percentage of visitors got to your site via an organic search and performed a desired action.

In addition to a macro view of keyword performance of your site, you’ll also want to get a more micro view. So you’ll want to document metrics for specific key pages/landing pages of your site, including:

  • Number of Visits. This tells you which pages are getting viewed and which aren’t, which can help you prioritize where you may want to begin making tweaks.
  • Bounce Rate. Probably the best indicator of whether a page’s content didn’t match up to a visitor’s content expectations based on their keyword search. If the bounce rate is high, it’s an indication that it’s time to make adjustments to increase keyword/content relevancy or to pull the plug.
  • Average Visit Duration. How long, on average, visitors interacted with the page’s content. Like bounce rate, this will give you a frame of reference as to whether the content is relevant and aligns with keywords that my have brought a visitor to the page. You should have a general notion what a “normal” amount of time may be to review the content and if what data is telling that it’s you something considerably less, plan to make changes to that particular page.

  • Page Conversion. What percentage of visitors took the action you desired on the page.

Prioritize & Plan Next Steps

With your baseline data documented, it’s time to evaluate the keywords and pages that are performing well and which are not. Then you need to decide where you’ll spend your time and resources to make improvements. Given your busy schedule, it probably makes good sense to focus your efforts on keywords you see are generating the most conversions (e.g. industrial gyroscope) and/or tweaking keywords for pages that are underperforming and need to perform better quickly in terms of search and conversion.

So if you’re going to focus on generating more traffic and conversions around industrial gyroscopes, you’ll want to determine:

  • How competitive is that keyword for search. If there’s a lot of competition, you may need to research long tail keywords with less competition (automated industrial gyroscope), but still generate solid traffic and help you rank higher for the more general term.
  • What additional content you can develop to both improve your ranking for that term and further improve conversions. Whatever that content may be — blog posts, targeted emails, a landing page for a new tip sheet, a tweaked product page — you’ll want to remember to include an offer of some type where you can capture lead information.

Measure Again

Once your efforts around the targeted plan for gyroscopes have been out there for a month, remember to go back and measure again. It will help you know how things have been performing and again, what you may want to adjust and tweak. And don’t forget to document your broader data from your initial baseline set as well.  

Once you get in the rhythm of regularly checking your keyword performance, you’ll be a little addicted. So move this task higher up on your priority list because the time you put into reviewing the data and making adjustments will help you achieve more success in the long run.

Compare organic SEO to Pay-Per-Click

Topics: Search Engine Optimization

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