Keyword Research, Competitor Content Gap Analysis & Content Review for a Website Migration

Keyword Research, Competitor Content Gap Analysis & Content Review for a Website Migration

Keyword Research, Competitor Content Gap Analysis & Content Review for a Website Migration

A website migration is the perfect opportunity to to:

  1. Identify new content requirements for your site
  2. Identify existing content optimization opportunities
  3. Improve your site architecture and internal linking

Identifying New Content Requirements During A Website Migration

Why is it important?

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.

Identify Existing Content Optimization Requirements During A Website Migration

Why is it important?

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:

  1. Your new site provides the information users need, in an easily accessible way
  2. This information has as high a chance as possible of ranking on Google and other search engines for relevant searches

A site migration is the perfect opportunity to identify opportunities to optimize existing content.

Here’s a handy checklist for optimizing existing page content

  • - Ensure focus keyword is added to page title
  • - Ensure focus keyword is added to meta description 
  • - Ensure focus keyword is added to H1
  • - Include only one H1 per page
  • - Add focus keyword in first paragraph
  • - Subheadings (h2, h3, h4) should use the right order and hierarchy
  • - Add secondary keywords in the subheadings
  • - Add secondary keywords in the body of text
  • - Include 1-2  internal links to related blog posts within the content 
  • - Include a CTA (call to action) 
  • - Ensure image alt text tags include focus keyword

Improving Your Site Architecture And Internal Linking During A Website Migration

Why is it important?

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 logical site architecture
  • Logical internal linking structures to match this site structure
  • Optimized pagination

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.

Keyword Research

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:

  • Identify content gaps (e.g., content that your audience is looking for / your competitors are providing that you don’t have)
  • Identify unoptimized content (e.g., content that is focused on a topic that your audience is looking for but thais not optimized to capitalize on that interest)
  • Better categorize your content into topical groups / hubs which should inform your internal linking structures

Step By Step Keyword Research For A Website Migration

Step 1: Build your "Seed List" of keywords

  • Collaborate with internal teams to create a seed list of topics you want to rank for
  • Make a list of keywords based on your current sitemap
  • Make a list of keywords that you are already ranking for (Use SEMrush, or a similar tool, or even Google Search Console)
  • Add keywords from which your competitors are attracting lots of traffic (Use SEMrush, or a similar tool)
  • If you like, you can build this list out further by finding related terms with Google Search Console or another keyword research tool

Step 2: Review your list and assign "Relevance" scores

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).

Step 3: Add in Search Volume and Google Ads Conversion data (if you've got it)

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).

Why is Search Volume important?

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.

Why is Conversion Data important?

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). 

How to assign Search Volume scores:

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.

How to assign Conversion Data scores:

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:

Step 4: Calculate a priority score for each of your keywords / topics 

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:

  1. Relevance - the keyword is super relevant to your business offering or expertise
  2. Volume - the keyword is commonly searched for by your target audience
  3. Conversion focused - traffic via searches for the keyword commonly result in sales / conversions for your business

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))

Step 5: Group keywords that share a similar topic and intent together. 

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

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:

  • Navigational intent: Trying to find something (e.g., “Subaru website”)
  • Informational intent: Trying to learn more about something (e.g., “What’s a good car?”)
  • Commercial intent: Trying to learn more before making a purchase decision (e.g. “Subaru vs. Nissan”)
  • Transactional intent: Trying to complete a specific action (e.g., “buy Subaru Forester”)

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.

Step 6: Keyword Mapping

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):

  • - your page title tag
  • - the opening 100 words of your content (and throughout)
  • - your meta description
  • - your image alt text tags

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:

  1. Technical SEO Checklist for a Website Migration
  2. Keyword Research and Existing Content Audit for a Website Migration
  3. 301 Redirect Planning and Redirect Mapping for a Website Migration
  4. Crawl Depth and Internal Linking Review (of your UAT site) for a Website Migration
  5. Staging Site Performance Review for a Website Migration
  6. SEO Go Live Checkup for a Website Migration
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