seo dan stratford

Video Training: Quick SEO Analysis, Keyword Research and Strategy Development With SEMRush


Hello. This is Dan Stratford. I am a digital marketing consultant. I always hesitate to call myself an expert because as we all know, you are an expert in this industry today. You may be nobody tomorrow if you don’t keep up on the latest and greatest. I do own a consulting and training company called Stratex Digital Marketing. One of my partners is Peter Kent who’s the author of SEO for Dummies and one of the leaders in the industry. Today, what I’m going to be doing is going through how I quickly begin to analyze the current status of a business from a search engine optimization perspective, specifically start to analyze where they are now, where their opportunities are and begin to develop a little bit of a strategy.

This first piece though is going to be mostly about where they are and where the opportunities are before we get in to developing strategy. In this example, I’m going to use a company called Optic Nerve. Now, Optic Nerve is a competitor to Oakley and Smith and Rudy Project and those types of companies. They may need some help with their search engine optimization and we’re going to find out how they’re doing and how we can improve it. The first thing I’m going to do is search for them by name. One of the reasons that this is important is because if your website is not ranked for your branded search terms, your branded name, you’re not likely to be able to rank it for other more competitive search terms. The foundation of any SEO strategy is ranking for your branded searches and specifically, your business name in the case.

Good news for them. Outside of this definition of optic nerve that Google has provided at the top of the search engine, we have a number one position for optic nerve. Optic is right here at the top. I’m using Mozilla Firefox browser and I have a bunch of plugins which is why you see this extra information here, but the tool we’re going to highlight today is SEMrush, which we’re going to use, again, SEO analysis, as well as keyword analysis. I find this to be a good tool. In some situations and in many situations to start to begin a keyword research. You could just go to, but if you have the SEO book plugin on your Firefox browser, you’ll see this icon here and you can just, after going to the website that you’re going to be analyzing, you can just click on this icon.

First, we’ll go to the website and we’re not going to talk too much here about onsite optimization. There certainly looks to be some reason for updating or upgrading this website, but we’re not going to talk too much about it. I will say that onsite SEO is a vital component of any search engine optimization, digital marketing strategy and having a website that converts. That is, engaging is vital to market success in general, but is becoming more and more, has become more and more important to success in SEO, but we’re not going to talk about that now. Let’s look at how these guys rank currently. If I click this little icon, it’ll pop up another browser here that is SEMrush and probably stands for search engine marketing rush for the uninitiated.

The first thing that SEMrush presents is what they would predict this business’s historical search engine, organic search engine traffic to be. One thing I’ve noticed with this tool is it may or may not be accurate when you’re dealing with local search because they don’t always seem to give a business credit for showing up in the local map section of the Google Search that appears, that puts them at the top of the page, but for general search engine optimization, it’s usually a good indicator and it tells me some trends of this website over time. This website was established or at least crawled, according to SEMrush, as early as December of 2009. They spent a little bit of money on Google AdWords as this yellow orange line would indicate. This blue line indicates their estimated search engine traffic based on some factors that we’ll discuss in a moment.

You can see, over time in general, this website’s credit or equity with Google has improved, had some ups and downs and one thing I might ask this business or business owner or marketing person, whoever is marketing this business is, have they engaged in any proactive search engine optimization strategies over the years and during these specific time frames where they seem to have gained a significant amount of traffic or lost a significant amount of traffic? Back in May of 2012, it looks like they took a … had some significant increase to their traffic, although it dropped down a bit. Went up from 90 searches or 90 visits a day or a month from organic searches to over 1,300 visits a month from organic searches and then dropped back down to 700 or so, and then again, took another bump here in December of 2013. A little bit of a bump in February. Even a positive large bump, probably their most significant increase since 2012, they experienced in August of 2014.

One thing this may indicate is they have engaged in some proactive search engine optimization strategies or maybe they haven’t. Maybe it’s just dumb luck. Over time, they’ve been adding content to their site. They’ve been gaining links because of their reputation in the marketplace or doing press releases and maybe those things. Maybe engaging in social media have had a positive impact on their rankings. We’ll talk a little bit more about traffic with this tool here in a moment, but let’s go ahead and page down a bit. The most useful information for me in this conversation is looking at really their organic keywords. One thing that SEMrush tries to do is show you who their competitors are in organic search, but I don’t think they necessarily do a great job of this. Unless the site is already really, really well-optimized and targeting the right terms for the business.

As you can see, this is telling me here that they’re ranked number three nationwide for the search term “optic nerve” which is probably not that relevant to their business. Let’s look at this full keyword list. I’m going to click on “full report.” Let’s talk about this and how we can use this data here constructively. What SEMrush does by default, at least they did on this search is they sorted the keywords in the order that they believe is driving the most traffic to the website. They determine that by looking at, first of all, they only look at search terms that they have deemed to have some kind of search volumes. Sometimes, the search term may only have ten searches a month. Here’s some with only 40 or 70. This search term, “optic nerve” has over 14,800 searches a month. If a search term out there that maybe only get searched once a month or maybe five times a month, it may not even show up in this list. That’s one of the caveats.

This is telling me that these guys rank somewhere in Google for 1,155 different keywords, but that by no means is all the search terms for which they rank. In fact, if you were to look in Google Webmaster Tools, which is now called Google Search Console, you would probably see that they actually have a presence or some kind of equity for two to three to five to ten times more than this number of keywords, but a lot of those may only have one search a month. Let’s look at this. How they determine that “optic nerve” drives the most amount of traffic to the website is they say, “Okay. They’re in position three.” If I’m position three, I probably have a fairly high click through rate. That is for every 100 searches on that term, I’m probably getting somewhere between five and maybe twenty visits where people page down just a bit and click and go to my website, so 5 to maybe say 15% of the time if I’m on position three, people are going to click on my website.

Since it has a search volume of 14,800 searches a month, that could drive a lot of traffic as you can imagine. If you look at the second term here, “optic nerve sunglasses” which brings 24% of traffic extensively according to SEMrush versus 46, 47% of traffic of “optic nerve,” you’ll see that they’re in position one. Position one can have as high as say, 30 to 35% click through rates, depending of course. All relative type of search and many other factors, but it can have a very high click through rate. We’re estimating that even though this only has 880 searches a month, currently ranked number one. This is their second leading driver of traffic, organic traffic to the website. You can see this term here which is another branded term for them, if you will. They’re also ranked number one, but it only has 210 searches a month. You can see, it dropped down significantly to only 3 or 4%, between 3 and 4% of traffic.

“Optic” on the other hand, the word “optic” has over 12,000 searches, but since they’re on the second page of Google, it’s not driving a lot of traffic for them and to be frank, they probably don’t care for a lot of traffic from that kind of less relevant search term, but because it has such a high search volume, even though it has a relatively low ranking being on the second page of the 14th position in the search results, they only have about a 3% to their … 3% of their traffic is coming from this search term. “Optic nerve glasses,” which is again, branded term and by the way, we call these branded when they have the business name on them or the product name on them. Optic Nerve sells ONE sunglasses, so you could argue that’s a branded term. They’re ranking really well for branded terms.

“Optic nerve sunglasses” only has 70 searches a month, but they’re ranking number one, so they’re likely to get a significant number of searches from it. A little bit of an anomaly here for some reason, even though there’s more searches for this and they’re position one for both of these terms. They’re positioning “optic nerve glasses” above “optic nerve goggles.” Again, that’s why we look at this data and we don’t look at it as the gospel, but as things that we can look at and discover trends and help us research current statuses of a website and a business online and look for opportunities. If you consider this data here and then go over here again to this traffic tool. I’m going to change this to …

Remember, we clicked on “traffic” and I opened it up in a back … When I opened it up on a different tab and we can change this from “traffic” to “traffic price,” or from “organic searches” and “traffic price” that the value of the traffic essentially from paid traffic and I can plot this data and I can look at it historically from an all time perspective. Again, it looks like they may have spent some money on Google AdWords back in December 2012 to January of ’13, but kind of the same trends. The difference in traffic price is, this factors in a couple of things here. First of all, how they’re ranking on the search terms, for the terms that they’re ranking, what’s the search volume and then what is the cost per click that Google would charge if they were to be up 24-7 in Google AdWords?

Again, their click through rate is going to be a factor of maybe 5 to 10% because they’re in position three, times 14,000 times .76, so you could see that the value of that is going to be pretty high. It’s going to be lower for this one. Even though they’re in position one, there’s only 880 searches and so they go to this whole list and they’d look at what’s the cost per click, what’s the ranking and what is the search volume? They take that data and they put it here and they estimate what the organic traffic value is. I personally don’t find this incredibly useful for me to really say, “Hey, your website has $3,000 worth of traffic every month for organic.” Or, “Your website has,” in this case, “$1,100 a month in traffic from organic.”

What I do find it helpful for is trends and then if I do a competitive comparison. I might put in, who is one of their competitors for example and discover that Oakley has, from an organic perspective, how they’re doing versus how they’re doing from a paid perspective and I may be able to compare to Optic I’m using this tool to identify trends. Here’s a little bit of a deep for example in their rankings, as if something bad happened here, maybe, maybe not, but here, I can use it for a competitive comparison. I can see that Oakley has relatively much, not only do they have higher site value organically, but they’ve actually spent more on paid search and then Optic Nerve has gotten, according to this tool, in organic search month over month.

It’s a useful tool for relative comparisons and it also tells me that, well, I can’t depend on knowing that Oakley has spent 700 … I’m sorry. How much is that? $53,000 a month in Google AdWords. I do know that they’re investing something likely in Google AdWords. One way to use this tool, compare yourself to your competitors, identify trends, great for that. Let’s go back to the keyword analysis. I find it much easier to do keyword analysis in an Excel document, so I’m going to open up here an Excel document. I’m going to export this data from SEMrush into Excel and then I have already started to develop a workbook for my analysis of this company. I’m going to take this data. I’m going to paste it into page one of the workbook and I’m going to name this worksheet “All SEMrush keyword data for Optic N.”

Now, I’m also going to just get rid of this extra spreadsheet. I could have just started out with this in my basic spreadsheet, but I’ve already saved this into a folder for this analysis so it’d be handier there. I’m going to make this look a little bit bigger so you can see it much more clearly. Now, one thing I’m going to do is let’s review this data a little bit more in depth. It tells me their current position, their previous position which may have just been a few weeks back. The search volume of the keyword, the estimated cost per click and that’s what makes that look like dollars. Dress this up a little bit if I wanted to, but the other thing it tells me is what page is Google bringing back in the search results when people search on this term? We’ll get a little bit more into why that’s important later.

Looking at traffic percentage there, of course, and then traffic cost percentage, competition and trends and all that stuff which we won’t get into for what we’re doing today. One thing that I want to do now is start to look at the keywords that are not branded, because most of these at the top are branded keywords and I want to start to look at keywords that are going to drive new business for this prospect. First thing I’m going to do in this case is I’m going to sort this data by search volume, largest to smallest. Now, I have these keywords organized from most searched to least searched regardless of their rankings for the search term and I would look at this first term here, and that would lead me to believe that somewhere on the Optic Nerve site, they mentioned Cabelas. Maybe they sell their products through Cabelas, but in fact, if you look at this URL, we’d probably go to this URL and see that the Optic Nerve website is referring to Cabelas, obviously.

That’s not a branded term and it’s not really doing much for their business because they’re in position thirty seven. It might drive a little bit of traffic as you can see here. Now this term, “polarized sunglasses,” that looks like a very valuable term for this business as they sell polarized sunglasses and polarized sunglasses are relatively expensive. I was buying a pair of Oakley sunglasses a few weeks ago and the non-polarized lens version of the sunglasses was $100 less than the polarize lens version of the sunglasses. These are high value keyword for a good product. What I would like to do is start to have a list of keywords that are around polarized sunglasses. What I’m going to do is I’m going to add a filter here to just this column.

I work on a Mac so how you add a filter might be different on the Mac version of Excel than a PC, but you’ve got to be a little bit familiar with excel to do a great job of keyword research. Now, I’m going to type in, I’m going to filter out SUNG, short for sunglasses and I’m starting to see that, okay, now I’ve got a bunch of keywords that many of which are going to be targeted. I’m going to take this list and I’m just about to. I’m going to grab it all. Again, this is filtering just the sunglass list and I’m going to copy it. Copy, and I’m going to open up another tab here and I’m going to paste it by hitting Command+V on my keyboard. Now, I’ve got a list of the keywords that just have the word “sunglasses” in them and they’re already ranked from most searched to least searched, because I just copied it right over, but let’s get a little more specific. Let’s look at polarized.

I’m going to do POL. Some people spell polarized P-O-L-A-R, which is correct, but some people might put a different vowel in there, so I want to get all of these here and maybe catch misspellings if there are any. Now, I’m getting to very, very targeted keywords for this business. When I look at this, as I start to think about a strategy for this business, I look at, this is a great buying signal keyword. This right here, probably a good buy and to know, right here, “polarized women sunglasses,” a great buy and to know keyword. “Polarized sunglasses,” buying signal keywords. These are great keywords that I might want to target as part of my SEO campaign for my most aggressive, what I would call my head terms, “polarized sunglasses for kids,” “polarized sunglasses,” but I see some really helpful information here as well which is, there is a search for what are polarized sunglasses? What is polarized sunglasses? Why polarized sunglasses?

I look at these as very good blog topics. In other words, if I ranked a website for this term and this term and this term, put a lot of effort into the and then I write blog post on these types of questions, what I’d like to find is that I’m not only ranking for these terms, but I very quickly rank for these blog posts and drive some excellent traffic to my website where I am establishing my business as the authority in the market and giving a reason why people would want to buy my polarized sunglasses versus someone else’s. Very good search data here, and I colored these for a couple of reasons. If we clear this filter out, we can sort this further. I like to sort things and go, “Okay. We’re going to maintain a search volume, but first, let’s sort these by color.”

I’m going to put my most valuable ones there highlighted in green at the top. I’m going to put the blog questions that I liked in yellow just below that and then I still want to maintain search volume as the order that I put these in because I probably don’t want to look through 500. I want to identify some quick opportunities. Again, now we have blog topic, keyword research combined with some really solid beginnings of keyword research. These are good targeted terms with a lot of search volume. If we could get their website ranked via a solid search engine optimization strategy on the first page of Google on a term that has 27,000 searches a month, they can have a huge impact on their business or [inaudible 00:23:35] to drive revenue, quality traffic to their website and revenue for their business provided that the website does a good job of converting and capturing leads and sales.

The other thing that’s good here is that these guys already have some equity with Google. Meaning that Google already brings them back on the fifth page of Google and the third page of Google and the sixth page of Google and the seventh page of Google for these search terms. Which isn’t great and that it’s not driving a whole lot of traffic for them right now, but it tells me that they’ve already been identified as relevant for these search terms and with the right strategy and the right amount of work, we have a good opportunity to get them ranked for this over the next probably six to twelve months. It does take some time, but it could happen and maybe this keyword, maybe we can make some ground on that in the next three to six months if we have a good strategy.

It also helps me out by showing me what keywords are targeting what pages. Google seems to like these two keywords for this page, which makes sense. Google seems to like this keyword, this page rather for this keyword search. It makes sense. It’s got … Definitely went to this page, it talked about women’s polarized sunglasses. Then I might at some point want to start creating individual pages for some of these other keywords if I deemed them valuable. Like a “ski sunglasses” for example, that’s a valuable … If we sell ski sunglasses and we want to rank for ski sunglasses and we may want to build some content because the homepage is probably not the best place for people to land on when they’re looking for ski sunglasses. It becomes a quality experience for the user, which is very important for SEO.

I mean, I did this one more time because we have found one keyword for this business which is the “polarized sunglasses” and maybe, we just target sunglasses, but I would argue that polarized sunglasses are more valuable targeted term for a high end company that produces high end sunglasses. Let’s look at another one. As I went down this list earlier, I saw “snowboarding goggles.” I will bet that these guys sells goggles. I am going to filter out the goggle search phrases, the keyword phrases that contain the word “goggle” and I’m going to copy these and I am going to paste these now on a different sheet. I’m accomplishing a number of things there. First of all, I am identifying how they’re ranked on current terms, identifying keywords that could be really good opportunities for them. I’m also starting to develop a strategy of maybe bucketing keywords.

I have a bucket of keywords they want to target to certain pages. Another bucket of keywords that I want to build content for on different pages. We’ve got snowboarding is one type of goggle that they sell so we could, if we wanted to quickly to do this is maybe I just want to move all the snowboarding keywords to the top. Maybe I want to take this keyword list and I want to add it over here so we have snowboarding goggles on this page. Then from an SEO perspective, again, I want to look for different opportunities to rank the website, drive traffic, drive revenue, drive business for these guys. Maybe I’ll look at ski goggles. Those could arguably be two different types of content that we want to develop and at the very least, could be a lot more or even subsets of ski and snowboard goggles for it and since we might have polarized here, snowboard goggles.

Now, we have ski goggles. We see that even for goggles, they have some equity on a bunch of search terms and they have equity for snowboarding goggles as well. It could be a tougher hill to climb for goggles as they … Well, they’re in the fifth page, the fourth page where there’s still some good opportunities for them. As I begin to the, A, develop keywords, this is a great tool with SEMrush to look for keywords for this business and look for opportunities and I have reason to be optimistic with this website that given the right strategy in relatively short order within the next year could be a realistic goal to start ranking and dominating even the market for these search terms.

Hope this has been helpful. If you would like any more information on keyword research and you need help learning how to do search engine optimization or any kind of digital marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Dan Stratford at Stratex Digital Marketing. Thank you and have a great day.

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