Now That You Know How to Use Your Keywords, It’s Time to Monitor Them

searching the webLast time, we looked at how you can finally use those researched keywords to develop good content, and drive traffic. But, all of that keyword research you did is worthless if you don’t know how to interpret the results!

Keyword performance monitoring is a long-term practice you’ll want to practice continually. This doesn’t take much time at all, and it will help you keep your PPC and keyword costs (both time and money!) down at manageable levels. All the while, you’re optimizing your website for rising trends and new opportunities.

Using Google Analytics to Track and Manage Your Keywords

If you’ve somehow gotten this far without having Google Analytics installed on your website, get that done pronto! After a few weeks of use, you should have a good amount of data in Google Analytics to refer to. Monitoring your keyword performance can be a breeze with this software, as long as you know how to use it effectively.

Under Traffic Sources in Analytics, you’ll find traffic results that can be sorted by traffic sources (including search) and the keywords that brought visitors to you. With Webmaster Tools enabled, Search Engine Optimization queries and landing pages are also trackable.

Clicking through to Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic should be the first major stop on your keyword-monitoring trip. This will show you all of the keywords visitors used to arrive on your site, and other detailed information about their visit. You can sort this information by:

  • The number of visits each keyword produced
  • The average length of your visitors’ stay per keyword
  • The average number of pages viewed per visit
  • The percentage of new visits to return visits
  • The rate at which visitors leave your site after arriving from a keyword (drop off)

Understanding Performance: The Anatomy of a Successful Keyword

Generally speaking, successful keywords in Google Analytics have a few specific traits:

  • They should produce lots of visitors.
  • The visitors should view many different pages on your website upon arrival.
  • They should spend a significant amount of time on-site.
  • They should attract more new visitors than repeat visitors.
  • They should have a low bounce rate.

That doesn’t mean a keyword is unsuccessful if it doesn’t have all of these traits. Any combination of two or three of these traits can indicate a valuable keyword you should continue to pursue. You should ask yourself which traits you value the most, and which traits produce the most conversions. Do you want people to spend a lot of quality time reading your fresh content?

With Goals established in Google Analytics, you can even monitor conversions involving a visit to a webpage—like a visitor hitting the “thank you” page after a purchase, or after subscribing to a newsletter. These conversions can be measured in your Goals, or by setting an Advanced Segment. Ron Jones at has an excellent explanation of how you can use Google Analytics to keep closer tabs on your keyword performance.

Monitoring Keyword Success in AdWords

Using AdWords to monitor your keywords’ success is another useful tool, though this will likely be more straightforward. When you look at your PPC campaign keywords, you’ll find similar results to those you might find in Google Analytics. These will all have a relative cost associated with them.

If you’ve gotten your conversions and sales opportunities synced up to Google Analytics and Google AdWords, you can easily estimate the cost per conversion for each of your PPC keywords, and decide which keywords are worth continuing and which ones should be cancelled. Other consumer intelligence data you might collect on your own (like exit surveys asking about keywords and likeliness to convert) can also play into your decisions to continue, start, or stop certain PPC keywords.

Google has provided their own basic rules for keyword optimization in AdWords. Decide which of your goals are most important to you, and follow Google’s instructions to get the most out of your AdWords results. For a second opinion, you can refer to Howard Tseng’s AdWords and PPC Campaign Optimization strategies and Neil Spencer’s guide to improving your AdWords Quality Score to get better ad placement in search results.

The Most Important Rule of Keyword Research

Keyword research isn’t a one-and-done thing you do when you first start a new site. Keyword research is continuous!! Whether you check daily, weekly, or monthly, you need to check your keyword performance regularly. High-performing keywords one month might not produce the same results the next month.

The internet and search engines are a very fluid market, and search behaviors are changing all the time. As more internet users access search engines on their phones and see paid and unpaid results on their other non-PC devices, the face of search engine advertising will continue to change, and keyword optimization will become more important than ever.

What are some of your favorite tools and resources for keyword research?

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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