If your website is established enough to have some traffic, you have a hidden gold mine lurking in your site search data. Do you know how to access it? Do you understand how to tap into it and use it to generate more income, higher profits, more traffic and better user engagement on your website?
If you haven’t figured these things out yet, you are not alone. Many small web publishers haven’t, and there are even some large publishers who haven’t caught on yet. This is your chance to beat out your competition and get the insights you need to boost your bottom line, increase the stickiness of your website and enhance your content creation strategy.
If you’ve spent any time at all building and developing your website, your site probably includes some helpful, quality content that your readers find useful and informative. Maybe your site has a little bit of content, or maybe it has a whole bunch — blog posts, articles, photos, videos, podcasts, vlogs, audio, animations, charts, diagrams, infographics and / or illustrations. These things all count as content. Of course, as we all know, content is one of the most important things that could attract users to visit your website for a dose of amusement, education or inspiration.
No matter how much content currently exists on your website, it’s unlikely that your content covers every topic your readers are interested in learning about. It’s also doubtful that you’ve covered your audience’s interests from every possible relevant angle.
This isn’t to suggest that you’re doing anything wrong with your content creation strategy. Not at all! You’re probably doing a great job overall. But even the oldest, most comprehensive, most interesting, most inspiring and most passionately designed websites have information gaps. Unless a website is focused on a topical niche that’s now outdated, there are going to be endless new trends, new styles, new technology and new areas of interest to create content about. And unless you have an army of people helping you discover the latest trends in your niche, you might be behind on finding out about some of them. Maybe even the most important ones.
Here’s the point: you could be missing out on covering the very topics that could drive the most traffic to your website and finally make you rich. That would be awful — wouldn’t it? Please don’t let that happen to you!
There’s a name for these information gaps. It’s called “holes in coverage.” But how do you go about finding, and filling, these holes in your website’s coverage?
This is a reasonably easy task if you have the right tools — like the Site Search Monetizer plugin. Otherwise, it isn’t easy at all.
For most smaller web publishers, the methods they’re using for this can be hit and miss — ranging from highly inefficient to a total waste of time.
For example, one of the most popular methods small publishers use: looking at which topics other websites are creating content about, and copying them. There are obvious problems with this method:
- Those other sites already outrank yours in the search engine results pages for the topic idea you’ve discovered on their site. So you’d have to do some serious SEO and link building to get your copycat content ranking well, and you already have competition from the start.
- If you’re copying another website and its content strategy, without adding any additional value to the discussion, what motivation do people really have for visiting your site, instead of the site that started the discussion in the first place?
- Your website is unique. While it’s possible that your audience overlaps the audiences visiting other sites, it’s important to remember that your visitors are unique individuals with their own interests, agendas, needs, curiosities and passions — and they have their reasons for visiting your website over others. Your visitors are not necessarily looking for exactly the same things that another website’s visitors are looking for.
The answer to these problems is simple: You should devote a significant portion of your energy to focusing on what YOUR website visitors want to discover on YOUR website — and then delivering that to them.
OK, great. But how do you do that?
There are several possibilities:
- Look at your internal site search data to discover topics and keyword phrases your readers are searching for, but not finding enough information about. In many cases, this is the easiest, most accurate, most informative and most direct method of gaining the information you need.
- Run polls or surveys, or solicit blog comments to get reader feedback. This can work OK for some topical niches — but for most site owners, there are a multitude of problems with this method. If your site covers a sensitive topic like finances, weight loss, relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, alcoholism, depression, psychology or health issues, you might not get much feedback — and you can’t count on the resulting insights to be fully honest, helpful or revealing ones.
Think about it. You ask your readers what they want to learn more about. Is anyone really going to tell you “I’m looking for information about incontinence remedies”? I doubt it. But that same user might not have any reservations about typing the phrase “incontinence remedies” into your website’s search bar to see if you already have any content (s)he could use.
It can be helpful to incorporate both approaches into your user engagement strategy. Overall, we’ve had the biggest and best return on investment from using our site search data. We think many of you will enjoy similar successes if you implement this strategy on your own websites.
Here’s what to do:
1. If you aren’t already collecting your site search data, begin doing so immediately. We recommend our Site Search Monetizer plugin for implementing this quickly and easily. The setup takes most new users about 3 minutes. Once you’re set up, you’ll be ready for not only collecting your site search data, but also for monetizing your site search page in other ways as well.
2. Allow some time for data collection to take place; then analyze your data. Here are some things to look for:
- Specific Product Names — If you find any of these, the discovery could generate ideas for affiliate products you could be linking to. This could also generate ideas for product reviews you might want to write, or step-by-step tutorials you might want to create in order to teach your website visitors how to use that product or how to get the best benefit from it.
If you create your own ebooks or informational digital products, these types of searches could also be helpful for generating ideas for your next product to develop.
- Weak Areas in Your Website Navigation — If you’re finding many site searches relating to terms that have been thoroughly covered on your website, it might be time to brainstorm ideas for making those topics more prominent in your navigation. This is a particularly important idea for bloggers, because great content can get buried and forgotten in your blog archives if you don’t make an effort to keep it visible on the site.
- New Technologies or Newly Trending Topics — If you find any of these, it’s a great opportunity for you to brush up on the topic and decide whether it’s one you want to cover for your website.
- Interesting Keyword Phrases Relating to Topics You Might Have Already Covered From a Different Angle — If you discover any of these, there are several possible actions you can take. You can edit and update your existing articles to include the newly discovered keyword phrase. This will help to optimize those pages so that new readers will be more likely to discover them when they search for information via search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo.
The newly discovered keyword phrase might be sufficiently different enough for you to want to create new content covering it. If that’s the case, it could be helpful to tackle the new content in a different format than what you already have posted on your website. If you already have a related article, it could make sense to create a timely blog post and infographic using the new keyword phrase. If you podcast, it might be time to incorporate the new topic into your next episode. However, there are times when it would also make sense to write another new article, which is always a possibility as well.
3. Realize that you might not want, need or be able to cover every possible idea generated by your visitors via site search. Some of the topic ideas they suggest will be more lucrative than others. What you really want to do here is focus your energies on developing content based on the most lucrative topic ideas.
Affiliate Marketing — For those of you who are monetizing your sites via affiliate marketing, you might want to focus on topics that best align with current available affiliate offers, preferably from merchants that convert well and offer attractive commission rates. In many cases, it will make the most sense to cover topics that would be appealing to a high percentage of your users. However, for affiliate marketers, it can also be worth covering tiny market niches, assuming there’s a sufficiently lucrative offer that relates well to the niche. Assuming large enough commissions and low enough content creation costs, you might only need to drive a few sales to make the initial content creation worthwhile.
Cost Per Click Ads — For those of you who are monetizing your sites via CPC ads, there are several factors to take into consideration: the amount of interest in the topic as a whole; the presence of advertisers who are willing to spend money on getting the word out about their products and services; and the relative value of a click to an ad relating to that keyword phrase. If there are advertisers targeting a particular niche, and you have users who are actively searching for information relating to the niche, this is a great topic to prioritize covering on your website. It’s even better if there’s a hungry audience for the topic outside of your usual user base, because that interest can help guide new readers to your coverage of the topic.
If a topic is only of interest to a small minority of your users, it might not be worth covering. However, if advertisers are targeting the niche, and it’s a particularly lucrative topic that is interesting to a subset of your user base, it’s probably still worth covering.
Banner Ads and Cost Per Mille Ads — For those of you monetizing your sites via CPM ads, the considerations can get a big more complex. The main consideration is likely to be the amount of interest in a given topic as a whole. The more interest, the more worthwhile it could be for you to cover the topic. However, there are a few other considerations to be aware of. Other factors can include your users’ demographics and the geographic area where your visitors are located — because there are cases where advertisers are willing to spend more on targeting users in a certain demographic or geographic region. Historically, it has been more lucrative to focus on topics of interest to a US-based audience. However, this will vary greatly, depending on the ad network(s) you are using, and the user base they are actively targeting. It’s best to focus on topics where your primary advertisers are located in the same country as the users who are doing most of the searching. Google Trends data can help you to determine this information; the screenshots posted below can help you wrap your head around an example of this.
Product Sales and Ebook Sales –For those of you who are monetizing your sites by selling your own products, the key is to focus in on identifying the topics that will best help you to capture the attention of your audience while also helping you generate sales. It makes sense to focus your energies on topics that are closely related to both goals.
To analyze the data so it gives you the best possible insights, you’ll want to incorporate your usual keyword research tools and methods.
Perhaps you’re new to Internet marketing, and you haven’t yet figured out methods that work. If that’s the case, I’ll show you how to use some free tools that are available to you, including Google Trends. You could also use the Google Keyword Planner, and there are a multitude of paid solutions as well.
There are many possible ways to approach the task of keyword discovery and research. Let’s take a look at a real life example.
The following screenshot was taken from one of my craft websites. It’s a relatively new site that I haven’t done much to monetize, and I installed and activated the Site Search Monetizer plugin on the site just a few days ago. I implemented the Amazon.com module of the plugin, and I’m monetizing the search page using Amazon.com affiliate links. Here’s a screenshot of the data the plugin is reporting so far:
Even though there isn’t all that much data available for me to look at yet, there’s already a bunch of actionable information I can use here. Let’s take a closer look.
In the last few days, my most-often searched keyword phrase was “baby hat.” I don’t currently have any baby hat projects posted on this craft site, so this is really a valuable insight into what my users would be interested in finding more information about. In fact, these users were so interested that 3 of them clicked through my Amazon affiliate links to take a closer look at the offers being promoted. Excellent! This information gives me motivation and incentive to explore this topic further, because it seems like it could be worthwhile for me to create some related content for my site.
But the term “baby hat” is really broad, and it leaves me wondering what kind of baby hat content I should be posting? For questions like this, it’s valuable to do keyword research.
The search engines themselves offer valuable insights that Internet marketers can take advantage of. So my first stop is Google.com, so I can see what Google suggests for searches that are related to my keyword phrase of interest, “baby hat.”
Next, I’m going to take this list over to Google Trends to see what else I can learn. I start by plugging several of these keyword phrases into the Google Trends tool to compare them.
Glancing at this graph, I can see that my website visitors have shown me some ideas that are currently popular with Google’s users as well. Cool! This means that I have the potential to possibly attract organic search traffic to new content I might create relating to these search queries.
When you’re thinking of creating new content, it’s ideal if you can choose topics that are trending upwards in interest. It isn’t a deal breaker if interest is trending down, because the total amount of interest overall is a more important consideration. You do, however, want to avoid wasting time creating content that relates to trends that are on their way out.
Next, I need to decide if any of these ideas are worth taking action on. At first glance, the keyword phrase “baby hat pattern” looks like a winner. But closer inspection reveals that CPC ads for this query do not pay much — and I already know that CPM ads on my site don’t pay much, either. So in order to justify the costs of content creation — which are relatively high for this type of content — I’d have to drive a high volume of new traffic to the pages. No thanks! The opportunity costs are too high to justify that, since I have other websites where I could earn more by investing less work.
Related affiliate offers could pay out a little better, but the ones I’m aware of are also not sufficiently lucrative that they would justify amount of work required to create new content that would align well with the offers. My website would have to have significantly more traffic than it currently does to make that pay off.
However, selling my own products could potentially be lucrative in this case, since I already have an interested user base — and there’s the potential to grow my user base further by expanding my product offerings. I do have the skill set required to create my own digital baby hat patterns. I also enjoy knitting, and I happen to have a new baby on the way. My little one will presumably need some cute new hats. If I’m going to go to all the trouble to knit up some baby hats, I might as well spend the bit of additional time it would take to create, produce and market some nice patterns that my users would enjoy.
So for my particular situation, creating and selling my own digital products looks like it could be a great way to take advantage of my users’ interest in this particular topic.
Next, I’m going to check out the regional interest for these search terms. My main objective here is to rule out any keyword phrases where the interest primarily comes from countries that I can’t service.
In this case, everything looks good; I can monetize this website by creating my own digital products and ebooks, and it looks like all the interest in these topics is coming from countries I can sell to. YAY!
Digital patterns cross borders pretty effortlessly, so there aren’t many countries I’d want to rule out selling to. But, for the sake of education, let’s discuss a different example. If I were going to target affiliate offers on this site, and I find a merchant with a great offer who only ships to the US and Canada, it’s not worth covering topics where the interest is primarily coming from Europe or Asia. That would likely lead to bunches of annoyed users who couldn’t take advantage of the offers I’d be promoting — a situation worth avoiding whenever possible. Makes sense, right?
This is not an exhaustive example of all the keyword research I could do. There are many other keyword research tools that could provide useful insights. However, the main takeaway here is that your site search data will help you focus in on what your users want you to give them. It makes good business sense to mine their search queries, and to make use of the ones that will be most valuable.
I hope you found this information helpful, and that you’ll be able to use these ideas to hone in on some lucrative ideas for your own websites.