Keyword Potential*: Pull Keyword Needles Out Of Analytics Haystacks

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by andrewsho

Wordy, Your Keyword Potential Pal

As I mentioned in my post on how to improve page 2 rankings, boosting the performance of keywords you already get traffic for can have a great ROI.  But how do you see beyond analytics data overload to figure out which keywords have the most potential?  Here’s one way to do it:

  1. First group your referring keywords by theme.  In Google Analytics use the “containing” filter at the bottom of the Keywords report. (i.e. only show keywords containing the word “kid”).
  2. Use the following formula to determine the potential of a keyword grouping:
    Keyword Potential* = (1-Keyword Volume/Search Engine Referrals)(PV)(Time)(1-Bounce Rate)


  • Keyword Volume = total # of referring words in the keyword group
  • Search Engine Referrals = total # of referrals from search for the keyword group
  • PV = Page Views/visit for the keyword group
  • Time = Time/visit for the keyword group (excel turns x:xx into a numeric value)
  • Bounce Rate = I’ll let you guess this one
  • If your site has the idea of a conversion, you would also multiply the formula by conversion rate.  You might even delete Time and PV as ultimately all you care about is conversion.

The keyword groups with the highest Keyword Potential* score should be the ones you focus on improving rank and expanding variations of the groups’ keyword.

For example:

Site X has two keyword groups: “kid” and “how to” (it’s a mommy type site).  The Keyword Potential* for each keyword group are as follows:

Kid = (1-179/701)(13.12)(6:03)(1-.28) = 1.78

How to = (1-869/1017)(4.21)(3:58)(1-.50) = 0.05

Even though phrases with “how to” in them drive about 50% more referrals (1,017), they drive far fewer referrals per keyword (869/1017) than phrases that contain “kid” (179/701).  The other metrics for “kid” are also much better.  This implies that each additional phrase that contains “kid” should improve the site metrics by a lot compared to phrases that contain “how to”.

This data could be used to argue that Site X should add more content that contains the word “kid” v. “how to” content.   Even better, go for content that targets “how to” do something with your “kid”.  See my post on keyword expansion for more ideas on how to do this.

Update: The data might be skewed if a phrase in a keyword group is overly dominant (e.g. one phrase drives 90% of all of the referrals in a keyword group) so you’ll want to look at the underlying data for each group and not just rely on the formula.

Keyword Potential is a trademark of Local SEO Guide as soon as I figure out how to add the “TM” superscript to this article.


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