Keyword Research, Competitor Content Gap Analysis & Content Review for a Website Migration
A website migration is the perfect opportunity to to:
This is pretty straightforward - you want to be able to provide all the information that your audience needs in relation to your products / services / offering.
By understanding what users are looking for, you can create a content plan to make sure that your new site provides the information that your audience needs even if your legacy site did not.
You may have lots of existing content on your website that could be working a lot harder in terms of attracting relevant SEO traffic. By optimizing and improving existing content based on keyword research, you can make sure that:
A site migration is the perfect opportunity to identify opportunities to optimize existing content.
Here’s a handy checklist for optimizing existing page content
Googlebots and other search engine crawlers find new content by following html links from pages they have already crawled on your site.
Essentially, if you’ve got a page optimized for a topic for which there is very high search volume, but that page has few or no internal links from other pages on your site, then Google isn’t necessarily going to rank it. The Google algorithm's “thought process” is something like: “Well if they don’t think this page is important enough to link to from elsewhere on their own site, why would I consider it important enough to show to searchers?”
You can make it easier for Google to quickly and efficiently find and crawl all of your pages by ensuring that you have:
A website migration is a great opportunity to not only review whether you have content to meet your audience's needs but also to review whether the content is organized in such a way that search engines are likely to crawl, index and rank it.
The best way to identify new content requirements; existing content optimization requirements; and opportunities for improved site structure and internal linking, is through the process of detailed keyword research and mapping.
When done properly, this will help you to:
Not all the keywords / topics that you will discover via Step 1 above will be relevant to your own core product / service offering. For example, you may find that a competitor is attracting a lot of traffic via search terms related to a product that you do not sell and have no plans to sell.
Therefore, we need to assign "Relevance" scores of between 1 (highly relevant to your core product / service offering) and 5 (irrelevant to your core product / service offering).
At this point, it’s safe to simply delete anything that scores “5” (totally irrelevant).
You should also take into consideration other factors that will affect the priority of a keyword / topic - namely Search Volume and Google Ads Conversion data (if you’ve got it).
Whilst search volume is certainly not the only factor that you should take into account when deciding on what topics to write about, it will help you to prioritize within a comprehensive list of topics. If you have two highly relevant topics, one of which has huge search demand e.g. 20,000 searches per month and another which has search demand of 10 searches per month, more often than not, the former will be higher priority.
If you happen to have Google Ads campaigns running and can see that users tend to convert on your site when they search for a certain topic, you can assume that you have solid evidence that users searching for that term are likely converters. This will thus warrant at least a little bump in priority.
To keep things consistent, I like to assign Volume scores and Conversion scores of between 1 (best) and 4 (worst).
1. Go to whatever tool you trust for keyword search volumes - if you have live campaigns on Google Ads Keyword Planner, then I’d suggest using this.
2. Input your list of keywords (with the irrelevant keywords already removed) - in Keyword Planner, select: “ Get search volume and forecasts”, and input them in the box provided, then click “Get Started”
3. Export the resulting “Historical Metrics”, which will include average monthly search volumes over the past 12 months in your selected geographical region
4. Tidy up the resulting document and sort by Search Volume - then assign a score to each keyword in the list based on their monthly Search Volume
5. Import these Volume scores into your main keyword research document (copy the entire tab into your existing document, then use a vLookup to quickly pull the Volume scores into your main worksheet)
Note: how you go about deciding what constitutes a 1 and what constitutes a 4 is up to you. With a small list, you can do it manually, with a larger list, you could use percentiles e.g. if a keywords search volume falls below the first quartile, it scores a 4, between the first and second quartile scores a 3, between the third and fourth quartile scores a 2, and in the fourth quartile scores a 1.
Now that you've added your volume scores, it's time to add in conversion scores (if you aren't running Google Ads campaigns and have no conversion data, you can skip this step).
1. Go to Google Ads and find the campaign associated with your website.
2. Set the date range to cover the past 6 months, at least.
3. Go to the “Search Terms” report
4. Export the Search Terms report as a Google Sheet
5. Sort by Conversion Rate and again assign a score to each keyword in the list based on their conversion rate - terms with the highest conversion rate get a score of 1, terms with the lowest conversion rate get a score of 4
6. Again, import these Conversion scores into your main keyword research document and into a column on your main worksheet
Now your worksheet should look like this:
So, now you’ve finally reached a stage when you can decide upon the the highest priority keywords that you should aim to rank for.
What constitutes a priority keyword? Well, usually it's a combination of factors:
Depending on how important each of these factors is to you, you can calculate the priority of each keyword based on a weighted average of your Relevance, Volume and Conversion scores.
Usually, a simple average of all three without any additional weighting will be fine. I usually use an average and round it downwards to the closest whole number using the following Google Sheets formula: =ROUNDDOWN(AVERAGE(C2:E2))
Depending on the length of your list of keywords, it may be quite easy to do this manually. Otherwise, you could use a keyword clustering tool like KeywordInsights.ai.
Essentially, the goal is to group all similar keywords together under a single "topic" & "intent" pairing, then ensure that you have a page for each pairing.
While they often overlap, you can break search intent down into four basic categories:
Read more about intent in this post by SEMrush.
After we have assigned a Topic and Intent to each of our keywords, our spreadsheet will look something like this:
You'll notice that the intent is not entirely clear cut for some keywords - for example "eternity rings" and "promise rings" which both fall into the "Promise Ring" topic have been assigned both Informational and Transactional intent. This is based on the fact that some users searching for those terms may be ready to purchase but some may simply be looking to do some research on what they are. Therefore, Google tends to show a mix of result types - e.g. product pages (Transactional) and guides / definitions type content (informational).
If we really want to ensure that we rank when people are searching for terms related to the "Promise Ring" topic, we should create an informational blog post as well as a product category page and individual product pages.
Now we have our list of priority topics that we want to rank for. At this point it's important to bear in mind one of the Golden Rules of SEO: A single web page should be laser focused on one specific topic e.g. a specific product or service.
If you mix two or more different topics on a page it becomes incredibly difficult to optimise the page for all topics and ensure that it ranks in a high position for queries relevant to all those topics.
The topic of the given web page should be the focus of (in order of priority):
So, at this stage you need to identify the most relevant page for each topic/intent pair. Where a relevant page does not currently exist, voila - you have a new content requirement!
So now you know what existing content you need to optimize for particular keywords and you have identified some new pages that will need to fit into your new site IA, plus, you have the basis of a logical, well structured sitemap with categories, sub categories and product pages.
Check out the other blog posts in this series on SEO for a Website Migration:
Activation & Performance
June 16, 2022
It’s launch day for your website & you've already taken care of the basics from 301 redirects to performance optimization. Time for a post-launch check up!
Activation & Performance
June 16, 2022
Before your site goes live, it's important to review your staging site performance to ensure pages load quickly & can be crawled efficiently. Read how in this post.