By: +David Herron; Date: June 24, 2019
Tags: Organic search traffic
Often the advice to analyze organic traffic potential is to use the Google Ads keyword suggestion tool, or to use a service like Ahrefs. The problem is that the numbers shown there are often stale or incorrect.
The solution is to use tools that Google makes available for us. Namely - closely studying search results on your favorite search engine (Google, DuckDuckGo, etc) and closely studying the keyword suggestions the search engine provides as you type a search query.
Estimating the total available organic search traffic potential is the key to knowing where to spend your time. You may have come up with a great keyword phrase, that's highly focused and low competition, where you can easily rank high in the search engine. But if the total available traffic for that keyword phrase is low, you'll waste your time if you write the blog post.
Let's start with this:
This is the general principle - that the more specific the targeted keyword phrase, the easier it is to rank well in the search engines. But it's possible to fool yourself by targeting a niche that has very little search volume.
At the top of this inverted pyramid you have broadly general topics. It's very likely you'll find existing web pages with strong content on strong websites. It would be very difficult to rank well against such a page.
At the bottom are the highly specific keyword phrases. It's likely you'll find the existing search results are for low quality sites that would be easy to rank well against. But if the search volume for the phrase is low, then your result will be very little traffic even though your page might end up ranking 1st in the search results.
The process is as follows.
Find a candidate topic or keyword phrase for a web page a.k.a. blog post
You'll have a broad category for your website. You'll have already analyzed the subcategories for your website. This is where you'll come up with candidate topics for a blog post.
Perform a competitive analysis - looking at existing search results for the topic
Here's where we start using simple existing tools to measure organic SEO traffic potential. Instead of going to an expensive service like Ahrefs, simply go to Google Search or your favorite search engine. All the tools you need are right there in the normal search results.
What we're looking to get is:
- A traffic overview of the competition - estimating the value of organic traffic from this keyword phrase
- Gauging whether existing web pages on the topic are strong or weak competition
- Looking for alternate keyword phrases
- Formulating an outline for the blog post
Whew that's a lot, but all that is available simply through Google search results.
As you're typing the search phrase Google and the other search engines all pop up suggestions. This is called Google Suggest on Google. The suggestions inform you of important other data, the most important being alternate keyword phrases.
Once you're at the search results page, there are a couple things to look for:
- Alternate search phrases
- The type of search results - whether the results are primarily low quality sites or not
- The topics in the search results
The first thing to do is to visit some of the resulting sites. It's a lot easier to outrank a low quality website than to outrank a huge website.
As you read the search results, and scan through the pages, you can also note topics to cover in the outline for the blog post. It's important to gather the phrases people use in looking for information. The more authentically you can write using those phrases the more likely you will be to draw others using those phrases. As you gather these phrases you should be able to formulate an outline.
The search phrase with the best potential value for organic traffic is the combination of
- Existing results are low quality sites
- Sufficient search traffic for that phrase
Perform a traffic analysis - Does this keyword phrase give enough traffic to warrant the blog post
It's possible to spend a lot of time analyzing a topic and writing an excellent blog post, only to not get any traffic. This happens when the topic is so narrowly focused that nobody is searching for that phrase.
The Google Suggest feature can be used to estimate traffic. When the Suggest feature offers lots of suggestions you know there is search traffic for that phrase. If it has no suggestions it's a strong sign that this phrase might have much traffic.
A little common sense is helpful. Google Suggest might not have suggestions because you've given it a complete phrase for which there are no additional words which make sense. Or it might be that you've wandered into a no-mans-land of a topic.