Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Keyword Research
Every month when you are digging through your keyword report (pulled from Google Analytics or whichever analytics you may use on your site), you need to take a good look at the non-branded keywords that are driving traffic to your site. For most sites, branded keywords usually make up the largest percentage of keywords driving visitors to your site. And while SEO does help branded search, the true impact of your SEO campaign can really be seen in those non-branded keywords.
Hopefully the keywords you are actively targeting on your site and with your content marketing are driving their fair share of traffic, but you also have to remember to contribute any long tail variations of those keywords to your SEO efforts as well. For instance, let’s assume you are targeting “professional pet groomer” on your site. As a priority keyword, that phrase is going to get a lot of love from your link building and content marketing so it makes sense that you get a decent amount of traffic from it. However, you might also notice that “certified pet grooming” is also driving a handful of visitors each month, even though you aren’t specifically targeting that keyword. It’s reasonable to conclude the search engines, which are getting much better at recognizing synonyms, are pulling your site for keywords closely related to what you are actively targeting even if it isn’t spelled out with your SEO. Remember, not everyone searches for the same thing the same way, so in order to make their search results better the search engines need to get better (and are doing so) and understanding the meaning behind someone’s search and pulling the most relevant results.
But there is another type of keyword you should keep an eye out for in your keyword reports, and that is upcoming keywords. Upcoming keywords are keywords that you aren’t actively targeting on your site, you might have never even considered them before, that are still driving traffic to your site month after month. It might be 10 visitors one month, 15 the next, 22 the month after that—this slow trend upward is a good sign you’re looking at an upcoming keyword, which reflects a change in user’s search behavior. For instance, “mobile pet grooming” get’s 40,500 searches each month. But maybe you notice that “traveling pet groomer” is sending a few extra visitors to your site each month. It’s more or less the same idea as “mobile pet grooming” but a “traveling pet groomer” might be a new way that people are searching for the same information.
Why are upcoming keywords important to notice? Because if you can spot a trend before it goes big you can adjust your SEO efforts so that when that new keyword gets popular your site is poised to pounce. Maybe “traveling pet groomer” only has 170 searches each month know, but in six months that number might jump to 500, or a 1,000 or more. Because you noticed the upcoming keyword when it was still in its infancy your website is ready to “own” it and keep the competition that is late to the game at bay.
Not every upcoming keyword is going to blossom into an overnight search success, but if it looks like something is evolving in your niche than it is definitely worth incorporating into your SEO and content marketing over time so you at least have a solid foothold should something great happen.