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When you’re working in the field of SEO, it can take a little bit of time and effort. There are many aspects of search engine optimization – many of which I previously covered in some detail in a two part series on common SEO mistakes 10 Common SEO Mistakes that can Destroy Your Website [Part I] 10 Common SEO Mistakes that can Destroy Your Website [Part I] Read More .  Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about two particular aspects of SEO optimization and tools that can help with your SEO keyword research.

The first involves proactively researching visitor behavior, or incoming traffic, at the site that you’re trying to promote to the top of the search engines. The second involves an innovative approach to researching your competition in order to understand the market that you’re in, and adapt your techniques to gain a competitive advantage.

I recently covered how to automate Google Analytics How To Put Google Analytics to Work for You With Email Reports How To Put Google Analytics to Work for You With Email Reports Read More with email reports, but today I’d like to cover a couple of Google Analytics browser addons that can help with SEO keyword research.  The first tool is simple – it’s a Firefox addon that enhances the reporting of a few important variables in Google Analytics. The second is not quite as simple, but tremendously useful – the KeywordSpy Firefox plugin. Not long ago, I almost reviewed the Keyword Spy online app, until I realized that they only offer a free trial period, not free access to their services. However, when I discovered that Keyword Spy offers a free Firefox addon – I jumped all over it.

Enhanced Google Analytics

The Enhanced Google Analytics addon is a tool provided by Juice Analytics. It was originally a Greasemonkey script, but is now repacked and offered as a quick and easy Firefox addon. The addon only focuses on two areas of your Google Analytics data – Referring Sites and Keyword Reports. However, if you know even a rudimentary bit about search engine optimization and identify high value opportunities, then you’ll know that these are two of the hottest areas to focus on.

All you have to do is install the addon and you’ve transformed Google Analytics. The next time you visit Google Analytics, just go into the Referring Sites section. From the dashboard, click on Traffic Sources and then Referring Sites.


This screen will appear as it normally does, except for one tiny little detail at the top of the screen. You’ll notice a blue button that reads, “Who sent me unusual traffic?” When you click this button, you’ll see the magic.

The secret is that the plugin extracted your referring site data and conducted additional analysis for you – and extracting the important changes in your normal trends. The thing about referring sites is that you most likely have the same high-volume referring sites every week, and it’s not always easy to spot or identify when there’s a sudden blip on the radar.

Enhanced Google Analytics identifies decreasing and increasing changes that are significant enough (over 50% change) to demand your attention. As you can see here, over the last three days my site lost a bit of Google traffic (I haven’t posted in some time), but I recently received a lot more traffic from Google Image visitors from the U.S., the U.K. and Denmark.

This section will also show you where your brand new visitors are coming from (if new sources pop up on the radar).

Again, here you can see the international Google traffic, but one funny fact this plugin revealed to me is that I recently received a bit of new traffic from visitors using a particular proxy service. This isn’t much of a surprise, of course, as the site deals with conspiracy theories, and as such, visitors tend to be of the paranoid variety.

Under the same “Traffic Sources” section of Google Analytics, click on “Keywords” to get some insight into some of the significant changes in your keyword traffic. The focus here is change. You may receive high volume for a number of keywords, but this data tells you when there’s a dramatic change from your normal levels, providing  you with some time to react accordingly and post new content that these visitors are looking for.

In the example above, a lot of people have recently become interested in an individual I wrote about who claims to be associated with a U.S. intelligence agency – it appears this information is attracting more visitors, so the smart thing would be to react quickly and provide more related content.

Downward trends may identify keywords that other websites started covering after you – so as the keyword becomes more competitive, you might slip in the listings – this would identify an opportunity to be proactive and improve your optimization for that keyword so that you’re more competitive again.

Using The Keyword Spy Plugin To Study The Competition

As I mentioned in the introduction, Keyword Spy is a paid SEO tool, however they now offer a free plugin that lets you conduct SEO keyword competition research from right inside your browser and in parallel with your Google searches. Once you install the plugin, you’ll immediately notice the data and search box in the lower status bar.

As you visit your competitor websites, you get instant feedback of the Google Page Rank and the Alexa Rank of those sites. Even better, when you conduct a search in Google, the plugin appends as much information as it can about each site including ranking, the age of the domain, how many and types of links at the site and lots of other data. A little flag icon will appear next to the title to let you know where the domain originated (if available).

The following search is for “cool websites.”

If you click on any of the top links, like Organic Keywords, PPC Keywords, Competitors or Domain Overview – you’ll get whisked away to the Keyword Spy website where you can review the intricate details of that data. For any analyst doing SEO keyword research, this sort of competitor data is invaluable, and to get it for free and on-the-fly within a Google search is just awesome.

Also, in the PPC ads off to the right, you’ll see small “View Keywords” buttons appear under the listed sites. This will also take you to the Keyword Spy website where you can review the top keywords for that site, providing you with some insight into how the site listed in the ad for that search term.

Studying the competition is an important part of any SEO analyst’s job – there’s simply no better way to understand the market or the niche where you’re competing than understanding the techniques and behaviors of those who are at the top. By understanding the leaders and then emulating what they do (except hopefully, even better) then you’ll be able to bypass your competition.

Do you conduct competition SEO keyword research for yourself or for clients? Do you have your own free tools that you find useful? Share your insight in the comments section below.

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