If you’re ranking below page 2 for high-opportunity keywords, then it’s easy to put your efforts somewhere else, especially if you’re not sure how much work it will take to see results. But these keywords represent untapped value and it’s possible to work on them without losing ground elsewhere. You can generate new traffic with a scalable, modular program.
Here is a script for identifying which low-ranking keywords to go after and how to do it. This approach assumes that you’ll need time to get traffic generating rankings, but it gives you plenty of flexibility in terms of resource management.
If you are looking for a plan to move better ranking keywords to page 1 or to the top of page 1, then look at this post on SERP positions 5-15.
Step 1: Find Keywords Rank 16-20
Start: Collect rankings and traffic data for keywords ranked 16-20. You can get data from Google Search Console or from tools like Moz. If you’re not seeing any traffic from lower position keywords, then use impressions from Google Search Console as an alternative data point.If possible, try to group the keywords based on their relation to keywords that are already generating traffic and conversions. These might be similar organic keywords or keywords from AdWords. That similarity is a sort of proxy for business potential: you know that similar keywords have driven conversions in the past, so it makes sense that related keywords could also drive conversions.
Step 2: Collect Traffic & Competition Data
- Take your list from Step 1 & run it through the Keyword Planner in Google Ads, and export the data.
- Merge your Keyword Planner tool data with your traffic and conversions data.
- Choose 10 organic keywords that you’ll commit to for the next 6 months. Focus on keywords below-fold on page 2. These are where you can see rank gains translate to traffic fastest.
- Do a competitor analysis for top 5 ranking pages & the 3-5 pages ranking directly above you. The top 5 define the competitive landscape. The 3-5 right above you are your first hurdle. You want the domain authority of the site, number of inbound links to the page, word count, and any notes you can make about on-page factors (URL syntax, use of headings, outbound links).
- Look at how many internal links are pointing to your target pages. I’d use Xenu Link Sleuth or Screaming Frog for this.
- Check the on-page keyword usage, common phrases (yeah, semantics), and content quality for each page.
Step 3: Make Your Plan & Run
Commit to a slow & steady approach for these keywords. Some keywords will pop immediately, but some will take months to reach better rankings. Make sure you communicate this to your team and stakeholders. Remember that you are also still working on growing your page one keywords, so plan resources accordingly.
- Get your link building going (emails, guest blogs, social, etc.). Your initial goal should be to beat the link profile (quality and/or quantity) of the sites immediately preceding you in the SERPs. If you’re new to link building, the checkout this Whiteboard Friday.
- Take care of on-page factors for your worst target pages while your link program is ramping up.
- Review your rankings and organic traffic reports monthly. Look for the keywords that make the biggest jumps and prioritize them for the next round of link building, pointing some internal links to them, or adjusting content.
- Track your links and make sure they are live. If your pending links start piling up, then take some time to reconnect with webmasters to get those links out there. SEOClarity is a good tool for tracking links across a lot of pages.
This SEO approach assumes you have opportunities you’ve been putting off to pursue lower-hanging fruit or due to a lack of resources. You might find that some of these keywords aren’t worth the time, but you’ll definitely find some winners if you do the early research. If you’re looking for a way to slowly reduce paid channel spend or have been seeing organic search decline for a while, then this is a good way to start rebuilding your SEO program.
Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash