Are your online marketing efforts failing to yield actual leads or sales? Is your website traffic growing, but not your business? Your keyword strategy, amongst other things, may be the culprit.

In this article we are going to help you review and optimize your keyword strategy for more conversions.

Keyword Strategy Optimization

Is Your Keyword Strategy Working?

Before we start pointing fingers at an existing keyword strategy it’s important to know where to locate the primary culprit.

To find the reasons for your poor conversion rates you’re going to need the following:

We’re going to assume that you have these tools setup and have been properly tracking your website’s conversions. If not, then you need to get some help setting that up as soon as possible as you cannot realistically make optimization decisions without this data. Contact us today for assistance setting that up.

Analytics Conversion Report

Using Google Analytics for Keyword Conversion Tracking

The first, and easiest, place to start is your conversion rate information in Google Analytics. Again, assuming you have properly setup conversion goals and/or e-Commerce tracking, then you should have access to a snapshot of how your website is performing by looking at your site’s overall conversion rate. You can find this overview information in Google Analytics by going to Standard Reporting > Conversions > Overview. If you want to drill down more, then you can review your Goal Funnels by going to Standard Reporting > Conversions > Funnel Visualization.

If your conversion rate is less than 2%, then keep reading as your website and possibly your keyword strategy could use some help

The next thing you need to do is use this information to find out what your conversion rate is for the keywords driving traffic to your website. The information provided above is only going to show conversions by source / medium. What you want to see is conversion by keyword. The best way to get this data, and to make it easy to find for future analysis, is to setup a custom report. Here’s how:

  1. Custom Reporting > New Custom Report
  2. Title Your Report (eg. Conversions by Keyword)
  3. Select FLAT TABLE
  4. Select “KEYWORD” as your Dimension (note: this includes paid and organic keywords)
  5. Select 1st Metric of “Goal Completions”
  6. Select 2nd Metric of “Goal Conversion Rate”
  7. (Optional) Select Filter to “Exclude” “Source / Medium” “Exact” “paid” if you only want to see data for organic key phrases
  8. Save

Your end result should look something like this baseline report we took from a client before we did any conversion rate optimization work…

Keyword Conversions Report

Although this is only one small sample of data to tell you how your keywords are performing (especially since Google is reporting less keyword specific information as you can see with “not set” and “not provided”) it is a great starting point. Using the example above we knew that the majority of the top keywords being used had to be analyzed and optimized to produce better conversion rates for this website.

The keyword report above is only focused on conversions as defined by preset Goals. If you’re using e-Commerce tracking for conversion data, then you will need to create your reports a little differently. If you need help with that then please contact us for assistance.

Keyword Strategy Optimization

Now that you know where your keyword deficiencies lie, in terms of producing conversions, you can start to plan and implement an optimization strategy.

Long Tail Keyword Strategy courtesy of HubSpot

The first thing to know is that, on average, long tail keywords are going to convert higher than short, general keywords. So, if your website is getting a lot of traffic for 1 or 2 word phrases, but no conversions, then it is very possible that the traffic you are attracting is just not qualified or relevant enough. Another explanation may be that this traffic is nowhere close to the end of the conversion cycle where they will purchase something or submit a form.

In these cases, your best approach is to optimize your keyword strategy for more conversions. This process involves the following:

Determine Business Objectives

Before changing, adding or removing any key phrases, you and your marketing team need to understand what your business objectives are. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my business sell products / services with a very short sales cycle?
  • What is the most important information to collect from a website visitor?
  • Which products / services do I want to push the most on my website?
  • How many leads per month does my website need to produce to support my sales team? To grow my sales team?
  • How many sales per month does my website need to produce to support my business? To grow my business?

You cannot develop a keyword strategy without knowing the answers to these questions for your business.

Perform Keyword Research

Although you may think you know exactly which phrases to use it is always important to validate these with some keyword research. No need to over complicate your research either, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Check your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools data to see which key phrases are sending traffic
  2. Run any key phrase opportunities through Google’s Keyword Tool
  3. Check the competition with some simple Google searches to see who comes up for your new phrases

Common sense and intuition are great for keyword research, but don’t always rely completely on these as you may miss some fantastic opportunities.

Add Modifiers

One of the best ways to improve your keyword strategy is to simply add modifiers to your existing key phrases. Broad, general key phrases that may be bringing in lots of traffic, but no conversions, can be turned into well-performing phrases just by adding a few words (before and/or after) the words you’re already working with. Consider some of the following modifiers:

  • URGENCY: emergency, quick, 24 hour, instant, fast shipping, on demand
  • PRICE: cheapest, discount, coupon, best value, lowest price, sale, half off, clearance, deals
  • LOCATION: countries, states, cities, zip codes, neighborhoods
  • DATE: most recent, this year’s, year (eg. 2012), season (eg. fall)
  • QUALITY: best, top, highly rated, recommended, most effective, dependable, quality, new

Using modifiers like these may drive less traffic, but the traffic that they will drive should produce much higher conversion rates.

Improve Your Landing Pages

Although this article is centered around optimizing keywords for more conversions it is impossible to ignore landing page optimization as the two go hand in hand. You can pinpoint the best key phrases to use (long tail or short tail), but if your landing pages are not setup to convert then you’re wasting your time. Follow these basic conversion optimization tips to improve your landing pages:

  1. Use a clear, enticing call to action above the fold
  2. Support the targeted key phrase and call to action with headlines and concise content
  3. Don’t clutter the page with irrelevant, useless information or navigation options
  4. Use testimonials, certifications and privacy reinforcement designnations to establish trust

Read our article on Top 10 Ways to Improve a Website for more effective ways to get better conversion rates from your landing pages.


Improve Your Keyword Strategy

We have shown you how to determine if your keyword strategy is to blame for poor conversion rates. We have even shown you how to start improving your strategy to generate more leads / sales from your website.

What we can’t teach you in one article is how to do all of this faster, better or consistently as that comes with hands-on experience – something we have lots of. We would love to work with you and your website to get you better conversion rates from your keyword strategy. Let us know if and when you’re ready to get started.

Are you ready to speak with a professional team about optimizing your keyword strategy?

Yes, Let’s Talk


Vinny La Barbera

I’ve been working in online marketing since 2000 and have helped thousands of companies improve their online presence and grow their business through better web / mobile design, development and online marketing.Learn more about me or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.