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Should you Regularly Audit your Keyword List?

A keyword list is a very valuable tool in a digital marketer’s arsenal. However, like most tools, it is most effective when regularly maintained. Unfortunately, far too many people simply create their keyword list once and never deviate from it. As a top digital marketing firm, we want to explain why this isn’t the best practice along with why you should regularly audit your keyword list.

The Importance of a Keyword List

What does a keyword list do for you? Ideally, keyword research is utilized to develop a good understanding of what people are actually searching for online. Terms are analyzed based on usage to better understand the intent behind them. Effective keyword research will generate a strong keyword list that is based on actual user behavior.

This is important because we have gotten to a critical state of “call and response” when it comes to SEO. Users call for specific information and a business needs to properly aligned response if they expect Google or other search engines to recommend that response. The ability of a business to mirror the language and intent of prospective clients is paramount for success. The internet has just become too noisy and crowded; you have to have pinpoint precision.

Why you should Regularly Audit your Keyword List

Auditing a keyword list is just as important as auditing other areas of business: for efficiency. Over time, things always change. When it comes to keywords, there are shifts in usage and intent. The most obvious example currently exists in our present environment. There is a shift from short keywords to long-tail keywords and natural language keywords as voice searches are increasing in usage and popularity.

If you want to have the most effective and highest ROI from your digital marketing efforts, you should regularly audit your keyword list.

How to Perform an Audit of a Keyword List

A good audit of an existing keyword list is fairly similar to standard keyword research with the added benefit of an existing stable of words:

  • Analyze current rankings – Using your keyword management tool, review how your current list is ranked. Dive deep and look at historical data versus current performance. If your tool offers the option, compare keyword use with your top competitors. Look at the top competitor keywords you aren’t using and add them to consider moving forward. Also, mark the underperforming keywords as possibilities for removal.
  • Re-rank your list – Take your relevant keywords and re-organize the list, taking into consideration difficulty and search volume. Some words are more difficult to rank for and might not be worth the effort compared to easier, high search volume words or terms.
  • Brainstorm – Start by sitting down with team members and think about ideas and themes based on products and services. This should be a very general overview to start, rather than trying to focus on specifics. Think about how people view the products and services your business delivers in general versus your business specifically. Categorize areas into general themes.
  • Build a list – From the themes, start to build out lists of keywords. Take the time to incorporate your current keyword list. From this point, branch out the lists based on how people might search based on needs. For example, if your business was skateboards you would look at a variety of terms around skate, skateboard, and skateboards such as shoes, wheels, shorts, helmets, etc.
  • Analyze and re-rank – Basically you are repeating the initial process, looking at both new words and existing keywords for difficulty and volume. The ideal mix will include the best keywords already in use and the best keywords you aren’t using. A simple formula to remember is keyword relevancy + low difficulty ranking + higher search volume. Those are the best keywords to focus on incorporating into your current list. As you add new words in, make sure to trim the fat of the underperforming words. However, keep them on a list for consideration on the next audit. You never know what is going to come back in style and you have existing historical data to compare against.
  • Look for patterns – This is a key step. Google uses a host of data in its analysis. It might be that the search algorithm is going to reflect a preference based on the historical relevancy your business has created in an area. Patterns can help a business better understand how Google (and other engines) view your business. That can allow for a better understanding of why some keywords excel and others produce little results.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that our world regularly changes. When it comes to marketing, we need to keep up with those changes to maximize our return-on-investment. You should regularly audit your keyword list to ensure that your keywords align with current user behavior and intent. That way your efforts will generate more traffic which can lead to increased conversions. While there is a good amount of work involved, the benefits are worth the effort.


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