How to Find Keywords You KNOW Your Readers Are Searching For

Dec 13, 2011   //   by Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe   //   keyword research, SEO Blog  //  26 Comments
easy keyword research

"Hands-free" isn't always a good thing...

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never liked doing keyword research.

Let’s face it: it’s tedious, time-consuming, and overwhelming, and that’s not even the biggest problem.

The core aspect of keyword research that many webmasters get wrong is finding keywords that THEIR readers search for when looking for information about their niche subject.

There’s a huge difference between THINKING you know what your readers are searching for and KNOWING what they are searching for, wouldn’t you say?

The following keyword research method is the easiest way I’ve even found to identify such search terms.

Oh, and did I mention it’s entirely hands-off, apart from setting it up, and entirely free?

Google Site Search

Chances are you have a search box on your site, and it’s most likely used by your readers to look up the kind of information they would expect to find on your site. Also, chances are your search box is powered by Google Site Search.

If you DON’T have a search box, stop right here and install it immediately! There’s nothing more frustrating than being on a site and not being able to find the information you are looking for. Search boxes keep your readers happy and your bounce rate low.

So, now that you definitely have the search box on your blog, have you ever checked what your readers are searching for?

If not, you are missing out on a vital piece of information that could tell you exactly what kind of content your readers want to see on your site.

In other words, TARGETED keywords.

Now let’s get down to business and set up a way for you to tap into this valuable information by tracking it in Google Analytics.

How to Track Site Search in Google Analytics

Setting up this process is very simple.

Note: since the new Google Analytics interface will soon become the default one for everyone, that’s the version I’ll use in the instructions below.

1.  From “Profiles” go into “Profile Settings”.

google analytics profile settings


2. Scroll down just a bit till you see”Site Search Settings” and set up the parameters like you see them in the screenshot below:

site search settings


Note: set “s” as the Query Parameter.

Just in case you are wondering why, “s” stands for “search” and is found in any search URL.

For instance, when I do a search for “web traffic” on my blog, this is what the URL for the search looks like:

search parameter settings

4. Click “Apply” and you are all set.

I told you it would be easy, right?

Site Search Results

Depending on how busy your blog is, it might take some time to accumulate any actionable results.

My blog gets about 400 site searches per month, which is plenty enough to determine what kind of content my readers tend to search for.

Here’s where to find these stats in Google Analytics:

search terms google analytics

Marketing Takeaway

And there you have it.

Not only do you know now what content you need to write about, but also what content you might need to make more accessible to your readers, for instance in your sidebar.

Easy, perfectly targeted, hands-free keyword research – check.

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Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe

Traffic, traffic, traffic... Can't do without it, but don't know how to get it? Ana does, and she freely shares her best advice on how to increase web traffic on her Traffic Generation Cafe blog. And don't forget to pick up Ana's 7 Steps to Complete Search Engine Domination free SEO report while you are at it - stop hoping for more search engine traffic and go get it!

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  • Tessa says:

    Its very simple and easy way to dig to analytics for targeted keywords. Other than this server log also provide great list of targeted keywords.

  • Gary Anderson II

    Hi Ana, here you are again! This is Gary again (I got CommentLuv Premium from your blog). Seems like you are everywhere. Anyway, this is a great idea! One thing I’ve always liked about analytics is that it shows you what “Has Already Worked!”

    I’ve never tried this with a search box, but I will be soon. Thanks for this great tip!

    Gary Anderson II

  • Awesome info! SEO is a never ending process! I probably should have done this before purchasing market samurai even though it’s really good. Thanks!

  • Great post Ana…I will definitely implement this….

  • Beth says:

    Hi Ana, great idea. You’re right when you say keyword research can be tedious, time-consuming and overwhelming. I’m going to give this method a try, with it being free I’ve nothing to loose. Only thing is I don’t have analytics set up yet, so I better put that on the to-do list.

    • Ana

      It definitely takes some time for your analytics account to start showing any actionable data, Beth – at least a month; so I’d strongly suggest you set it up as soon as you can.

      Thanks for coming by!

  • Jo SHaer

    It’s so obvious really – and yet, although I have a search box, it never occurred to me to actually check what people were typing into it.
    Thanks for the heads up – I will now be spending the evening wrestling with Analytics 🙂

  • Ginny

    I have always been a big fan of Google Analytics, combined with Google Webmaster Tools. I will take a try at using some of your methods to pull out more data.

  • Tobi

    Hi Ana,
    Great tip on using keywords analytics.
    I have been testing a cool plugin called wpclicks that actually shows you where your readers mouse goes when their on their site.
    will post a review on it soon.
    I think your method, combined with this tool will give you a great insight as to where to put your best efforts on optimizing your site.

  • Ling says:

    I’m using Lijit to list the search terms used within my blog. I also use a WordPress plugin called SEO SearchTerms Tagging 2 to find out what terms people use to google my blog.

  • Ileane

    Hi Ana, quick and easy instructions, thanks for sharing them. I have a question, when I looked at my current settings I had a “q” instead of an “s” and the terms appearing in the list were totally bizarre. What did “q” represent?

    Thanks for your help Ana.

  • Scott says:

    I’ve been using Market Samurai to look for the right keywords to use and i never really thought about this. You are brilliant Ana! I have a search box in my site but i never use this information to get leverage with my competitors. It’s true that analyzing keywords is really tedious and sometimes it’s really overwhelming. There are times that you can even make mistakes if you’re not focusing enough. However with this method that you just introduced to us, it seems like it’s error free and you can really be certain that this is the keyword that your audiences are looking for. Thank you so much for sharing Ana and this is one great Christmas giveaway!

  • I have used Google Analytic, but now i understand how to using about it. Thank,s for your great post. This post is my solution.

  • […] you want to rank for keywords ‘article marketing software’ for example, you can use partial matches like ‘the best software […]

  • Dennies says:

    really good post !
    i think we should do some exact keyword research using google tool.That really helps!

    this is a new thing for me,thanks 🙂

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