Edit (3 October 2013): This method still works after Google cut off key phrase information from Google Analytics in late September 2013. I wrote about why in this post. Follow these instructions and you’ll still be able to cut your ongoing key phrase research to just a matter of minutes.

Here’s an easy way to increase the traffic to your site and find some more topics to write about. It should be part of your Agile SEO armoury.

Key phrase research in minutes

You’ll need to have Google Analytics installed, also with Google Webmaster Tools installed and linked to Google Analytics. You won’t get the data you need without linking the two services.

This approach will also work best if your site isn’t brand new – generally, the more Organic traffic you’re getting, the better this will work.

Find out how you’re ranking

Log on to Google Analytics.

Choose Traffic Sources on the left hand menu, then Search Engine Optimisation, then Queries.

This will show you the top search queries for your site – although, be aware that many of them will not be driving traffic to your site.

Capture the key phrases

You need to get the data into a spreadsheet for the next stage. Make sure you have the right number of rows displayed using the pull-down menu in the bottom right, so you get all the data you need.



Now choose Excel.xlsx (or whatever suits your spreadsheet) and download the file.


Find key phrases to target

Sort the data by the Average Position column, from Smallest to Largest.

You’re not interested in the key phrases that rank in Positions 1 to 5. They’re very much where you want them to be.

The ones you’re most interested in are those that are in the lower half of the first page and on the second page. They’re the ones that, with a bit of effort, you should be able to rank higher.

So try filtering on Average Positions between 5 and 20. Here’s just a section of the spreadsheet, with the average positions on the right.

Key phrases

Have a look through the key phrases, deleting the ones that aren’t relevant to your site, or you’re otherwise not interested in. As you can see, there is a significant percentage of key phrases that Writing For SEO is ranking for that are little use to me.

See what you’re left with. This month, those positions give me more than enough possibilities – above is just a small part of the filtered spreadsheet, of course.

But if, after going through the results, you find very few relevant key phrases, you can increase the scope of key phrases – try filtering between 5 and 30 and review the results.

Now write some content

Armed with the list of key phrases that are just bubbling under, I can write some content to support these key phrases.

While I haven’t addressed the issues of competition for these key phrases nor off-site SEO, if you follow these steps you should be able to drive many of the list towards the top of Google over time.

How do you find key phrases to target?