Understanding SEO is vital for bloggers. After obsessing about keywords for years, I have found 3 great tools and have some marketing tips for how to read and process the data for your WordPress blog or website! Includes Google Search Console, Keyword Hero and Serpstat.
What I have found is that there are SO MANY places you can get data about your and your competitors keywords, but figuring out how to actually USE that data to get more traffic is the important part.
With this in mind, I am going to show you 3 of my favorite SEO tools and how I obsessively use them to find out what to do with my site!
please note :: I often recommend resources, some I receive an affiliate commission for at no additional cost to you, these all help to keep this site free for you! check out my policies for more info
What Are Important Things To Know About Your Keywords?
In SEO there are a million things you can track, but for me, there are only a few things that I feel like I can really control.
- Writing great content and trying to get it to rank for (relatively) high volume keywords
- Optimizing that content once Google has indexed it and ranking for more keywords for that specific post
- Finding new related keywords that could be supporting content for the post that I am trying to help
I KNOW, you should be doing backlink work (I don't) and that you can't guarantee that Google or anyone else will like what you write about, but there are already strong signals in your keyword data that you can look at and figure things out about!
Now, this is not a post for brand new bloggers (most of these tools don't work so great if you only rank for a couple of keywords) but it IS for non-techy blogger kinds who just want some ideas of how to look at data and actually DO something with it!
Additional Resource: What Are Long Tail Keywords For Google SEO? Blogging Tips & Advice
Tool #1 – Google Search Console
Okay, let's get this out of the way right at the start. Google is letting me down! First they took away keyword data in Analytics and now they have severely limited how much data you can find out about how different pages rank for different keywords. BUT it is info direct from Google and it is free, so there is that.
When you land on the search console you will be in an “overview” tab. Go to the left and click on the “Performance” tab.
This will first dump you into the keywords that your site ranks for based on the number of clicks that it received from search.
For the purpose of this report, we are going to talk about two different keywords that I get clicks from:
age group names – 2,260 clicks
demographics – 323 clicks
As you can see, I get a much higher percentage of the clicks from the “age group names” search (functionally almost all of them) than I do from the higher volume term “demographics”. But since they don't show me search position, I have no idea why! I can guess a few things:
- My age group names satisfies the exact intent of the searcher, giving them exactly what they want
- Because it is a niche post that has been ranking for a long time I must be high in the rankings
- My “snippet” (the words that show below the link in search results) isn't very good for demographics, maybe I need to re-write it!
Also, I don't know exactly which post is getting those clicks. The age range one is easy to figure out, but I have a few posts about demographics so that isn't all that helpful.
The next one over is Pages. As far as I can tell, this report is only really good for seeing which pages you need to work on your snippets for! If you have a high impressions and low clicks, then you are going to need to take a peek and see what Google is showing the searcher.
So on a big old site with lots of rankings and the need for more specific data, this is not all that helpful. BUT on a tiny little site, getting info about what keywords you are actually ranking for is fun and interesting!
Sorting Google Search Console Data
Okay, let's call a spade a spade, you CAN download the reports into Excel and then sort them by volume, but I don't (won't) ever do that. I am an “obsessively check things in a random way kind of gal” and this just doesn't work for me!
My next favorite tool is a paid tool, but not all that expensive, Keyword Hero. You can use it for free for your top 25 pages and after that it is about $20 a month for more pages.
I had not been paying for any big name SEO tools and used this for a quite a while for free before I maxed out everything I could do to boost my SEO game.
Functionally what they do is hook your Google Search Console to Google Analytics and give you new reports that you can use just the same way. I think of it as putting the keywords back into Google Analytics (don't worry, they make a totally new “view” so it doesn't mess up your normal analytics!)
The setup takes a few minutes and is a little wonky but they have a help section that walks you through everything!
The first report that I love is Keyword Performance. This one hooks up your keywords with the average position it is in in search.
Now THAT is helpful! Things you can do with this information:
- Sort it from lowest to highest (being in 1st position is GOOD) and see what keywords you rank well for. Make more content around those!
- Look at your keywords that are high volume that you rank in positions 5-20 and see if you can add content to your posts to “beef them up”.
- Look at your 2-4 keywords and see if there is anything you can do to move them up to position #1.
Additionally, when you are blogging about all different topics, you can use the search bar in Analytics to filter this by keyword… brilliant!
Keywords To Landing Pages
And now we get the keywords hooked to which landing page it is associated with! YAY!
Things you can do with this:
- If you have a number of posts that could support this post, add internal links using that keyword phrase to help boost it's authority
- Use for your link building so you know keywords that you would like other people to use to link to you
note: don't make this blatantly obvious to Google, find out ALL the keywords you rank for on that page and mix them up so you don't get dinged
Because I am focusing on SEO this year, I decided to bite the bullet and subscribe to a bigger, more robust keyword research tool. Serpstat is about $70 a month, but the benefits are so wicked good that I am happy to pay!
When you set it up, it takes about two weeks for it to start accumulating your particular data, but you can do A LOT of research before they are tracking just you!
I was going to make little arrows to show you the columns I use but then realized I USE THEM ALL!
So first off, those little blue boxes show you additional features that the keywords have ON Google search.
How to use this:
- Video thumbnail – if you are a video creator and see that Google returns videos, make a complimentary video and link from it to your post.
- Images for request – pop on over to the search and see what kind of images are being returned and then make sure to name at least a couple of images in your post that search term (seo-tool-research.png) and fill in the “alt” text so Google knows what your video is about.
- Related keywords – you can get these from Serpstat
- Related questions – MY FAVORITE… I always include an FAQ section in my posts and simply use the ones that Google gives me!
- Breadcrumbs – this comes from the SERPs (search engine results) on the pages and means that they are using breadcrumbs in their site (I have them at the top of my pages if you want to see them in action)
If your keyword doesn't have a lot of these, you can kind of phone it in and just do a blog post. If you see a bunch of supporting content around your keyword, you will have to do a bit more to get ranked!
Once Serpstat gets you all hooked up it will track your position in search and let you know whether you are moving up or down. On the top one I moved up 30 positions to #1 and the bottom one 65 positions.. whoo whoo!
- If you see a post take a big jump up, try and see if you can add content to that post to increase your results
- If you see it take a big drop down, try and figure out what you did to hurt it OR do internal linking from other pages on your site using that keyword to try and help it go up
- Add a heading in your post with that exact phrase to increase your authority
note: if you see a you gained or lost a position or two, that is just how Google works… the big swings are what you want to keep an eye out for!
This one is super important! Of course you want to figure out the highest volume keywords you have a chance to rank for and focus your SEO efforts on them.
Sort the columns by this variable and see if you can try for some super high volume aspirational keywords!
I probably can't out “Vistaprint” vistaprint, but you bet your sweet fanny I am going to be working on those “christmas quotations” and “christmas quotes” for next year, they are so close I can taste them!
Since I am in marketing, mostly my competing sites are pretty darn dismal (how many other sites are using that keyword) but look at this little gem…
I have to think that somewhere in my site I can work in “USPS change address”… crikeys, 98, that is nothing! Now remember, we are still sorted by volume so if you are working on your 5-15 position rankings the competition matters even more because you have a better chance of getting your post to rank!
But wait, it gets even better! Click on any of the keywords and you get a list of related keywords that you can use as internal linking words or simply add them to your post.
Now, you may be thinking, “how can a marketing person get value from a keyword like that? doesn't it matter the relevancy?” So here are some ways that I could make this work to my advantage…
- I already rank for Etsy shipping terms, I could talk about what to do when your buyer hasn't filled out a change of address form correctly (see how I internally linked that?)
- I could do a big post about shipping (I already have this in the works) and include it there
- Seriously, it is the “all the little boats rise up together” idea… that one keyword may not do anything for my site, but when Google knows I rank for a lot of shipping or quotes or marketing keywords, it makes it more likely that when there IS an SEO keyword I want to rank for I will.
That is one little report, Serpstat has about a gagillion different reports that you can use to help your SEO Keywords! Oh, and they have a gal who will walk through the (no kidding) 14 questions you have when you get started (I ask a lot of questions!)
I did a TON of research before picking them and although there are other good ones out there, I found Serpstat to be the best priced and easiest to use right out of the box!
Tracking My Keywords
In the video I show you how I have found keywords to target and showed my super snazzy spreadsheet in Airtable that I use to figure out new and supporting content ideas!
SEO Tools FAQs
After I started this post, a bunch of the gals had more specific questions that I thought I would address!
How Did You Pick The Best SEO Tools?
So fist off, I am am a marketer and an affiliate blogger from way back and companies approach me all the time to test their products and do reviews. In fact, Serpstat contacted me last year and I turned them down because I was not looking for a big SEO tool at the time.
So when I decided to focus on SEO they were in the mix with a couple of different ones including SEMRush. I tried them all and found the one that I could understand the most.
Why Not SEM Rush?
I LOVE SEM Rush and have even written guest posts on their blog! But that said, I really don't understand how to use all the great features they have.
I tried when I was making the decision to buy (many bloggers recommend it) and I really didn't get anywhere. I could find a couple of things that might have helped a wee bit, but for the most part Serpstat just has a better organization for what I am trying to do!
Which SEO Tool Is Good For A Little Website?
I have a brand new baby website that I started last year and I find that I like the search console the best for see which keywords I am ranking for out of the gate and then Serpstat for finding related keywords.
I don't know the right words to use as well as I do for my marketing niche posts so having help finding related keywords and ideas really is making a difference in getting content made.
Which SEO Tool Is Good For A Big Website?
I used the data in Keyword Hero for a good long while before I needed to go deeper into finding new keywords and understanding the relationship between the ones I rank for and what I am trying to rank for.
If you are just getting started with SEO then maybe go for Keyword Hero, if it is a focus for your year then for sure Serpstat!