It’s an enviable position to be in: your site is ranking really well for all the keywords you targeted when you launched your initial search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Leads are up, traffic is rocking, smiles all around. Time to pop the champagne, right? Sure, pat yourself on the back a bit since it isn’t easy to excel in the organic SERPs these days, what with sites (legit sites too) getting mauled by Pandas and Penguins. But you can’t get too complacent.
Success in SEO breeds even greater expectations and a whole new set of goals to achieve for your client, your manager or your executive team, which means more traffic, more leads, more, more, more… So what’s your next move?
Given how well the site is ranking, continuing to hammer away on that initial list of keywords may or may not make sense from an input vs ROI perspective. So it’s time shift to the next phase of keyword targeting, known as “keyword expansion.”
What is Keyword Expansion & Why is It Important?
The goal with keyword expansion is to target new keyword opportunities by discovering potentially untapped search verticals that are both relevant and traffic/lead-driving. In some instances, you’re improving on your initial keyword research by finding new modifiers or stems you may have missed the first time around. In other cases, you’re unearthing entirely new keyword ideas or concepts that you can use to author brand new landing pages, blog posts or linkable assets. But in the best scenarios, it’s a healthy mix of both.
So where can you find these new keyword opportunities?
Tools and Tactics for Expanding Your Keyword List
- Competitors sites can be a great source of inspiration and ideas for discovering keywords that are highly relevant to your site that you’re not already targeting. There are a few ways you can harvest ideas from a competitor’s site:
- Use the Google Keyword Tool: Most SEOs use the Google Keyword Tool to get keyword suggestions for a site for the initial keyword targeting list. But what many don’t know is you can also add a competitor’s domain to the tool (in the “website” field) and generate a list of recurring keywords extracted from that competitor’s site.
- Explore a competitor’s site: Take 15 minutes and click around a competitor site. Look closely at pages where keyword opportunities may hide, like resource sections, solutions sections, glossary sections, HTML site maps, footer links with exact match anchors (tell-tale sign they’re doing SEO and targeting those keywords). Looking at title tags of products and services pages is also effective too.
Since those tools don’t use have Google’s estimated search data (which is really the only data I have confidence in), plug any new keyword opportunities into the Google Keyword Tool to gather monthly exact match search data.
Keyword Expansion: It’s Like a Shark
If a shark stops moving, it dies (or so I’ve heard). The same goes for keyword discovery and expansion, which should be an ongoing, continuous and iterative practice you perform for the life of a site. Failure to do so could spell the death of your site, or at least the death of meaningful traffic growth.