What Search Terms Are Driving the Most Traffic to Your Site?

Written by Brick Marketing

Until Google started locking keyword level data under “not provided,” site owners could use Google Analytics to see what search terms people were using to find your website, how long they were spending on your site, how many pages they visited, what path they followed through your website, track conversions, and more. Unfortunately, with “not provided” 90-odd% of keyword data has been stripped from Google Analytics, forcing site owners to piece the same data together using a variety of sources, including Google Webmaster Tools.

While you may have to work a little harder to get the same reports that you could easily pull and export two years ago, Google Webmaster Tools does still provide useful data if you take the time to look at it. One of the most useful features of Google Webmaster Tools is the Search Queries data box. Not only does the Search Queries data box show you impressions and click-through data for the given time frame, it also shows you what search terms people used to find your site, as well as your average rank for that search term over the given time frame. While rank is certainly not the only metric you need to be looking at when measuring the success of your SEO, there is no denying that ranking better does lead to more click-throughs, simply because people spend as little time as possible combing through the SERPs.

Webmaster Tools

One great feature of the Search Queries box is that, when you click on a specific search term, you can see what pages people are landing on when they search for that term. Obviously you would hope to see that the page you optimized for that search term is on that list, but there might be 3 or 4 other URLs that you are also showing up in the SERPs with. It’s always great to see that your company is dominating the SERPs for a short-list of priority keywords, not only by ranking higher than the competition, but also by ranking more frequently. There can only be 10 URLS in the search results (albeit they might be mixed in with local search results, videos, shopping promotions, and more thanks to Universal Search) so if you can grab 2 or 3 of those spots you have the chance to pull even more visitors over to your site. Many of our clients often see blog posts in that list, demonstrating just how important fresh and well-optimized content is for SEO.

While many site owners have a short list of search terms they want to rank well for, it’s also important to keep an eye out for variations that your website is pulling visitors in with. For instance, your main keyword might be “SEO”, but the competition level for that is huge and the search term is broad enough that it could mean 101 things to 101 people. So what other versions of “SEO” are driving traffic to the site? Phrases like “SEO services,” “full service SEO,” “SEO consulting,” and more might not pull in as much traffic individually, when you add up all those visitors you could make some serious progress over time! Don’t assume that the only search terms your site does well for are ones you have actively optimized for.

It’s important to note that Google Webmaster Tools only holds onto data for 3 months. Unlike Google Analytics, which holds onto all historical data, once that 3-month mark has passed you lose all past data. To work around this I typically export Webmaster Tools data into an Excel file so that 6 months from now it will be easy to compare data sets.

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