There comes a time after collecting incoming search terms metrics for a couple or few years for your web site where you should scan through the terms to come up with a to-do list moving forward. This could be your new keyword research tool that will create new “work” for your web site that can span several months.

Don’t worry about missing out on anything “new” in the industry in terms of search terms while you have your head down sifting through your own data. You are already monitoring the social web and covering new topics daily in the “news” section of your web site right?

Analytics queries

Get Keyword Data That Spans Back A Few Years Or More

Anyway, if you are using Google Analytics, you can get a giant list of search terms by changing the date range to start a few years back. Then go to Traffic Sources >> Search Engine Optimization >> Queries.

At the bottom of the page you can change the setting so that it shows at most 5,000 rows.

What you are looking at here is what keywords, phrases (or terms) that one or more of your pages has received traffic for at some time in the past. It may be that one (or more) of your pages currently ranks high for the term, or that it used to in the past.

Now, the terms in here may have not brought people to a page on your site that offered them the answer to their query. It might have just been the best thing Google (or other search engine) had available to show at the time. These terms may still get you traffic from some or all of the search engines, or they may not. The competition may or may not be strong for these terms.

While you could use tools like Market Samurai to determine where you currently rank in the big name search engines for each term, or what the the “competition” for each term in the organic search results, I say to spend your time following other steps. The steps include creating new content, improving existing content and sharing or possibly re-sharing the new/existing content.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article as I discuss exactly what I recommend that you do for each keyword in the list. If you are eager to get started you might want to jump in and group like terms together (like you might do for an ad group in paid search), and discard the terms where you will not be addressing the query.

You can also sort the queries on one of the metrics if you want to priortize your work in some way. For example, you can work through queries that have already received lots of clicks before working with ones that have had few clicks. Or you may want to sort by “Average Position” to help boost terms that are already doing well, especially if they are “buyer terms” and you have something for them to purchase.

With this information you will be able to learn all sort of things about your site. One example is that you may find out that you rank very well for a particular phrase but have very little to offer on your site to address the query. Or perhaps you will learn that while you do have a page on your site that has value for the given query, you aren’t getting clicks. This could mean that the title/description needs a bit of work perhaps.

Part 2 to come…