I do lots of SEO projects. Not so typically, I also do a lot of website search projects. But I hardly ever do them for the same clients. One reason is that IT people typically run website search while marketers typically manage SEO. But the few clients I work with that do SEO and website search together have discovered the secret I am about to share with you.
As Google and every other search engine has made it more and more difficult to know which keywords searchers use to find your pages, you need to go after more and more data. One of the richest and easiest sources of data is website search.
You control your own website search, so no one can take the data away. Website search engines find only your own pages, so you don’t have to wade through tons of irrelevant keywords to find the ones that pertain to your content. And those search engines also give you linkage between what searchers are looking for and which pages from your site come up. Those choices might not match Google’s choices, but they are better than nothing,
But the biggest reason to mine your website search data for keywords is the simplest. These are a list of words that your customers think you actually have content for.
Even when they are wrong and you have no content for a keyword, even that is instructive, because your customer thought you should have content. Perhaps these are gaps in your content that you need to fill.
Now, when you look at your website search keywords, you do have to make a few adjustments. While a Google searcher might search for quicken loans, when they arrive at quicken.com, they might search for merely loans. Expect searchers to use fewer of your brand names (and especially not your company name) when they are on your website–it already sets that context.
If you aren’t looking at website search keywords to drive SEO targets, you are missing one of the most obvious places to look.