Discovering Keyword Opportunities

  • Introduction

    This article will walk you through using Alexa’s Keyword Research Tool to discover opportunities to grow your search traffic.

    Keywords are the building blocks of search. They are also the foundation for understanding customer intent, which is the basis for creating engaging content that drives traffic to your site.

    In short, your keyword strategy plays a huge role in the way you attract and convert customers.

    Alexa’s Keyword Research tools can help you improve your existing strategy and discover new opportunities to drive more traffic. It also gives you a window into the strategy of your competitors.

    In this article, we’ll walk through how to leverage Alexa’s Keyword Research tools for competitive advantage. You’ll learn how to:

    • Review the organic and paid keywords sending traffic to your site
    • Discover new keyword opportunities and gauge whether ranking for those terms is possible
    • Get a glimpse into your competitors’ keyword strategies and use your findings to adapt your own strategy
  • Doing Keyword Research in Alexa

    When starting keyword research, it’s important to know what’s already driving traffic to your site.

    More specifically, knowing the competitive score for keywords already driving traffic will give you a benchmark to evaluate your site’s competitive capacity—in other words, how likely your site can rank for a given level of competition.

    For example, if your site is attracting traffic for organic keywords that have a competition score of up to 40-50, then you can confidently optimize for new keywords in that range, knowing those efforts will likely be fruitful because you have a history of driving traffic for keywords in that range.

    That way you spend your time wisely, generating new content for keywords that have a promising mix of high search volume and low SEO competition.

    Alexa’s Keyword Research tools can help you analyze your existing keyword strategy from a couple of angles to find areas for easy improvement, as well as new opportunities—for both paid and organic search marketing.

    Say you’re hipmunk.com, the San Francisco online travel startup. You want to find low cost ways to optimize your keyword strategy to gain an edge against bigger online travel agencies (think Priceline).

    Let’s start with your organic strategy. We’ll take a look at what’s working for you. And what’s…kinda…working for you?

  • Reviewing Existing Organic Keyword Traffic

    To review keywords that are already driving traffic to hipmunk.com, you’ll visit Alexa’s Keyword Research tools. Once logged in to your account, you can access the tools from the Dashboard Left-hand navigation:


    The Keyword Research tools let you search:
    1. By site (e.g. hipmunk.com) or
    2. By target keyword (e.g. flights)

    Since we want to know which keywords are already driving traffic to hipmunk.com, we will first search by site.

    The organic keywords driving traffic to hipmunk.com have the following properties:

    Popularity - an estimate of how often users search for this keyword, on a scale of 0-100. Essentially, the search volume.
    Competition - a score based on the number of ads displayed for this keyword, on a scale of 0-100. More ads = a higher score, which means more competition and harder to rank for.
    % of Search Traffic - the percentage of organic traffic for this site that comes by way of this keyword. For example, cheap flights drives 12.41% of hipmunk.com’s organic search traffic.

    The list is sorted by % of Search Traffic, which allows you to see the most effective keywords driving traffic to hipmunk.com.

    A quick analysis shows the keyword phrase cheap flights is driving the second highest percentage of traffic to hipmunk.com. And it has a very high competition score of 93. This is a great way to benchmark what level of competition your site can rank for. It looks like hipmunk.com is successfully driving traffic for a couple keywords with a competition score of 93. We can assume they’ve got a strong domain and ability to rank for keywords of a similar competitive standing.

    Now, take a look at flight search. It’s generating a bit of search traffic and is well within hipmunk.com’s competitive capability with a competition score of 65.

    Maybe hipmunk.com can improve it’s results from that keyword considering it’s relatively low competition.

    Pro Tip: Export any list of keywords by clicking the download icon at the top right the list.
  • Sizing Up the Competition

    At this point hipmunk.com would probably find it interesting to see what other sites are driving a significant amount of traffic from flight search.

    If we click on that keyword, it’ll take us to the list of sites that are getting traffic for that keyword, including the Share of Voice that each site gets for that keyword.

    In this list we can spot our competitors: kayak.com, skyscanner.net, tripadvisor.com, etc.

    This list lets us delve into:

    Share of Voice - the percentage of searches for flight search that sent traffic to the listed site
    Global Rank - the global Alexa Rank of the listed site
    Keyword Data - see other top keywords that drove traffic to the listed site over the last 6 months

    Notice that hipmunk.com is #16 on the list, getting only 1.38% Share of Voice.

    What Should You Do With This Info?

    We have a couple opportunities we might explore:

    1. We could consider optimizing the page that’s ranking for that keyword by including flight search in the URL, title tag, meta description, and content for the phrase flight search to help boost Hipmunk's rankings even more.

    Pro Tip: Use Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker to make sure your landing pages are optimized for the keywords you’re trying to rank for.

    2. Alternatively, we could create an entirely new piece of quality content that speaks more specifically to this keyword phrase than the page that is getting traffic for that term. For instance, The Insider’s Guide to Flight Search. Sometimes a page can get traffic for a keyword you didn’t intend to optimize for. If that’s the case, creating a new page that is truly tailored to the keyword can be a quick fix to getting more results from that keyword. It’ll rank better for the phrase and capture a higher Share of Voice as a result. But you’ll want to ensure your new piece of content doesn’t compete with your other page by removing the phrase from the URL, title, and header tags in the old piece of content.

    Other Ways to Discover New Keyword Opportunities

    So far, we’ve reviewed organic keywords already driving traffic to our site. We’ve identified a keyword we may want to optimize to drive more traffic. We’ve confirmed that this keyword is relevant among our competitors and audience. And we’ve refined our content ideas based on our research. This is just one way to identify keyword opportunities.

    Another way to identify keyword opportunities is to scope out the competition. By researching what keywords are successful for others, we can adapt our strategy and potentially reach new audiences.

    In Alexa’s Keyword Research tool (we’re still researching by site. But this time let’s look at hipmunk.com’s competition. Let’s peek into priceline.com’s strategy.

    Enter the competitor’s site and click on “Paid Competition.”

    Here we can look at two things:

    1. Keywords Targeted by priceline.com’s Competitors
    2. Keywords priceline.com Should Consider Running Campaigns For
  • Keywords Targeted by Competitors

    When looking at the Keywords Targeted by Competitors Opportunities list, we are able to see all keywords that have:

    1. Sent traffic to priceline.com over the last 6 months and are also
    2. Being targeted by priceline.com’s competitors in pay-per-click campaigns

    Here’s a sampling of the results:

    This list shows us the overlap between Priceline’s keyword strategy and its competitors’.

    A list of Keywords Targeted by Competitors helps us find new keywords that hipmunk.com should consider targeting. Ideally, we’d like to optimize keywords that have a reasonable balance between Competition and Popularity scores. Remember, Hipmunk has had success with keywords with a competition score of up to 93.

    From the list above, we may consider optimizing for carnival cruise because it’s well within Hipmunk’s competitive capacity. However, another site with less of a competitive appetite might choose to target bidding for travel because it has a medium level of popularity given it’s low competition score.

    We might also consider running a pay-per-click ad for the keyword best price. Then, visitors searching for the best flight prices will see a Hipmunk ad promoting cheap flights from various airline partners.

    Speaking of pay-per-click ads. Now that we’ve got you some organic keyword opportunities, let’s take a look at your paid search strategy.

  • Reviewing Existing Paid Keyword Traffic

    If you’re running pay-per-click keyword campaigns, then you likely know how those keywords are performing. However, it’s still helpful to continually test new keywords.

    Similar to reviewing existing organic keywords, we will run a Keyword Search by Site > hipmunk.com.

    In the top navigation, click on Paid.

    The results show us a sampling of the keywords that hipmunk.com has run ads for. We can view the targeted keywords, how many times they have run, the popularity for the listed keywords, and how competitive they are.

  • Keywords To Consider Running Campaigns For

    Many sites actively advertise for the most valuable keywords. But this often results in high competition and high advertising costs. Identifying long tail keywords is a great way to avoid this.

    Long tail keywords often have lower popularity, but also lower competition. Bidding on long tail keywords can still generate strong search traffic in aggregate, but at a lower cost and with less competition. Alexa’s Keyword Tool makes suggestions for viable long tail keywords.

    In the Paid Competition tab, you’ll find a list of suggested keywords to consider.

    Clicking on any of the keyword phrases shows us a detailed view of that phrases’ stats - popularity, competition, and the number of advertisers who have paid for traffic from this keyword over the last 6 months - and a list of sites that are running PPC (pay-per-click) ads for it.

    Knowing the competitiveness of a keyword, as well as what other sites are running PPC ads, is just another indicator of how difficult it will be to get ad impressions and clicks for the keyword. It also informs how much you may expect to spend.

  • Putting It Into Action

    So far, we’ve gone over how to find areas for improvement in the keywords that are driving traffic to your site. And we’ve walked through how to discover new ideas by seeing what keywords are driving traffic to your competitors. Based on this information, we explored how to identify the best new keyword opportunities. And we’ve shown how you can do all this using Alexa’s Keyword Research tools.

    Now it’s time to put it into action.

    Focus on a couple of your top opportunities and begin creating quality content that is relevant to your customers. The more effectively your content answers your customers questions, the more popularity your site will gain. The more popularity your site gains, the more other sites will link to it, which increases your domain authority. In the end, all this means a higher SERP ranking, more traffic to your website and, ultimately, higher conversions.