This simple, standard process is a great way to inspire both alterations and additions to site content. It is useful when you know what you want to drive rankings for (such as a service or product) and are looking to strengthen these, whilst finding new gaps and angles.
The method is based on two premises.
Firstly, by understanding individual pages’ search performance better, you’ll know which are in need of an overhaul, which will benefit from supplementary content, and which could provide quick wins with on-page edits.
Secondly, it is better to re-target topics which you really care about (and are under-performing on) than to create more niche – and often more irrelevant – content when you feel you’ve exhausted your core ideas.
Broadly, the process can be broken down into four key steps; export, record, analyse and implement.
The first thing to do is export every URL on your site which includes a reference to what it is you’re trying to promote. One way to do this is on Google Analytics. In the Behaviour tab, select Site Content, then All Pages, then add your product or service to the filtering box. Ensure that you input this in the format it would appear in a URL, and do a separate export for important synonyms too.
Otherwise, you could crawl the entire site using a tool like Screaming Frog, filtering your results to include URLs which reference what you’re looking for.
At this point you’ll have a list comprised of everything from product pages, to blog posts and category pages. Your next job is to separate these by type. Later on this’ll help you check that you have the right balance of content on site, as well as that pages are ranking for the keywords which they should be.
Now, use Google Search Console to record the keywords which each URL is ranking for, along with the clicks it’s getting from search engine results pages. To do this, from the main dashboard select Search Traffic, then Search Analytics, then tick the “Position” and “Clicks” checkboxes, and filter first by country, then by URL.
How many rankings you note from each URL is up to you, but it goes without saying, the more the better. Particularly look for low rankings which are still generating clicks – these are likely to be ripe for improvement.
Next, run each keyword you’ve found rankings for through Google Keyword Planner, record their average search volumes and align them with the URLs which rank for them.
Finally, back on Google Analytics, record the organic search landings that each focused upon page has generated over a set period of time. This gives a good gauge of general search performance, and can supplement what you discover from existing rankings, positions and keyword volumes, to determine a page’s effectiveness.
To do this, within the Acquisition tab, select Campaigns, then Organic Keywords. Then set the Primary Dimension to Landing Page, and input the page’s URL to the filtering box. Record the “Sessions” figure from this.
3. Analyse & Implement
Now assess how each page is performing by the four metrics you have for each keyword; ranking, keyword volume, clicks and organic landings. How these compare to each other can give significant clues into changes which are likely to be effective.
Whilst there are countless inferences you can make from comparing the numbers, some of those to particularly look out for are below.
Low Ranking for High Volume Query
If a page is ranking low – and failing to generate clicks – for a high volume intended query, the creation of new content is likely to prove beneficial. This is especially useful if you’re struggling to rank individual product pages, where content is likely to be thin and may not effectively answer informational user queries.
New content should be created to answer search queries directly and clearly, as well as to market the original page (where conversions take place) and support it through internal linking. Be sure, however, that the pages don’t cannibalise each other by trying to rank for the exact same keyword. This will be covered further in the next paragraph.
Multiple Pages Ranking for the Same Terms
If this is the case, you likely have a content cannibalisation issue. When two or more pages seem to be targeting the same keyword, it can be difficult for search engines to determine which is worth ranking, to the detriment of either one or both. This often occurs when a site is trying desperately to rank for a key phrase, and over time creates a lot of substantially similar content to do so.
The best course of action in this case is to choose the most relevant (or profitable) URL to rank for this keyword, and target the other(s) at alternative, similar keywords. When deciding on pages to re-format, think about which provides most value to a user, as well as which makes the most business sense to rank highly for the term in question.
Intermediate Ranking for High Volume Target Keyword
If a page has shown itself able to rank in an intermediate position (say between 5th and 20th) for a high volume target keyword, the page is ripe for improvement. On-page edits could prove the difference and push content like this up the search results. Otherwise, targeted outreach, promotion or social media efforts could give the URL a bump up the rankings.
Content Not Answering a High Volume Ranking Query
If you find a page ranking well for a query which it’s not able to answer effectively – and metrics such as low clicks and organic landings reinforce this ineffectiveness – again it’s time to take action.
In many cases, altering page content to answer the query more directly can solve this (and comes with less risk, as a URL has already established rankings). If this is impossible – say, for example, on product pages with little space for text – creating new “top of the funnel content” can allow you to better satisfy what your audience is looking for. Be sure to link any new pages back to the originals in these cases, so that new (likely informational) page drives traffic to the one where conversions take place.
Page Has No Rankings and Little Traffic
If a page has proven unable to rank for any keywords, and has low levels of traffic, assess what it was originally created for and start again. Whether you alter the content on an existing URL, or 301 redirect it to a new one, is often profitable to re-target topics which your previous research has proven are worth seeking rankings for.
Before creating your new content, assess why the original page may have been failing to rank for your target keywords, as well as other URLs which are ranking for them. Often you’ll find that competitors are able to offer something that you haven’t yet, and taking hints from this can give valuable clues into how yours needs to change.
Group of Related Product Pages Failing to Rank
What you may find is that an entire product range is failing to rank. Perhaps the names of individual products are very niche, or the pages containing them are thin and don’t give enough clues to search engines about what they are.
If this is the case, strengthen the category as a whole with new content. Take a broad approach, and create something to rank for a wider-scope keyword than that of the original pages. If this content is good, outreached well and links naturally to individual product pages, these could each find themselves strengthened as a result.
I hope that you have found this an actionable, “one size fits all” approach to assessing content performance, finding gaps and strengthening existing rankings.
How you interpret – and the degree to which you act on – what you find in the exporting and recording phases is of course down to you, but remember that old SEO cliché; think of the user first! It is always better to answer key questions well with natural, helpful content than to overly optimise for keywords which you think will drive traffic to your site.
If you have any queries regarding the process or tools described in this post, I’d love to help, so drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you A.S.A.P
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.