When we search for something on the internet, either through a search engine like Google or a site's dedicated search, we're showing our intent. Our exact intent isn't always obvious, a search for "Italian coffee maker" could indicate we want to purchase an stove top espresso maker, or that we're looking for instructions on how to brew Italian style coffee, or even trying to find an Italian coffee shop. Most modern search engines, however, do a fairly good job of guessing what we might be interested in and showing us results we're interested in. It is this intent that makes search engines so important.
If you own a website, you of course want your site to be considered among the most relevant for searches that apply to your site. But what are the best searches to optimize for? It's easy to generate a short list of terms that seem important, but are people really searching for those terms? Your site analytics will tell you which terms are sending traffic your way via various search engines, but which terms are you missing? Also, wouldn't it be great to know which terms are sending traffic to your competitors, and how important they are?
This is where Alexa Search Analytics comes in.
There are three pieces of data we present: Search Traffic, Top Keywords from Search Traffic, and Search Terms with a High Web-Wide Ranking Driving Traffic.
Search Traffic is an estimate of the percentage of visits to the site that come from search engines. The goal of most Search Engine Optimization (SEO) initiatives is to increase the percentage of quality traffic to a site coming from search engines, and Search Traffic indicates how well this is working. In the example to the right, the numbers are steady at slightly under 1 in 3 visits coming from search engines. What does this graph say about your competitors? Are the numbers climbing, indicating that they recently launched a successful SEO initiative? How do their SEO efforts compare to yours?
Next are the Top Keywords from Search Traffic. These are the keywords and keyword phrases driving traffic the most traffic to the site. In the example, the top 10 keyword phrases account for less than 3.5% of the total search engine traffic, meaning that this site is optimized for a wide range of phrases. This is good, because the more phases search engines consider you relevant to, the more potential traffic you can drive to your site. What does your site analytics say about your keywords? What do we say about your competitors? Do they have a wider variety of terms leading to their site? If so, you might start thinking about ways to improve your SEO.
Lastly are the Search Terms with a High Web-Wide Ranking Driving Traffic. These are the important terms, because they're there keyword terms and phrases that are driving significant amounts of traffic to the site you are analyzing. The relative importance of the phrases to the site is indicated by the green bar. In the example to the right, which has been truncated for space, we again see a wide variety of terms. These are often different from the Top Keywords, because again this list takes into account how popular the term itself is. You can, however, and should ask similar questions. What does this list say about your competitor's SEO? Is it dominated by a few words, or is there a broad range? How do you compare? Can you identify phrases that offer you the best opportunities?
Thoughts? Then please leave a comment below! Note, however, that all comments are moderated, and comments containing URLs will be deleted. You can also reach us through twitter, either @AlexaInternet or me personally @wcoburn. And, as always, you can leave us a message in the Alexa Forums. I am very interested to hear what you have to say about this.