Dilemma: When Should You Change Targeted Keywords on a Post?

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The dilemma: you gain some traffic from an article but you are not ranking for your targeted keywords.

  • Google’s Search Console shows you rank better for other keywords
  • Keysearch keyword finder tool says the other keywords have a decent volume
  • You’re already ranking in the top 10 for other keywords

Do you switch your targeted keywords or stick with the status quo?

What you will learn

  1. How to asses when to change keywords in an article
  2. Where to find keywords you already rank for

Assessing the Post

I noticed that one of my posts was doing very well in April and May but tanked in June.

When I dug deeper into Search Console I noticed that I did not rank well for my intended target keyword, but I did rank better for others.

Digging into Search Console

To do this, go to Google Analytics > Acquisition > Search Console > Landing pages. You need to have Search Console linked to Analytics. To find out how – read our Introduction to Google Analytics here.

Next, in the search field, type in one word from the post’s title that you are looking for. Go up to the calendar and change to last 30 days.

Once Analytics has returned the results, take a look at the metrics.

  • Are the impressions high?
  • How many clicks did you get last month?
  • What is the click-through rate (CTR), average position, bounce rate?

Next, compare these results to the last 30 days by clicking “compare to the previous period” in the calendar. You can investigate using other dates too.

How does it look?

For me, my impressions increased by 2.70%, but clicks were down by 2.08% and CTR down again by 4.66%.

Investigating the Ranking Keywords (Search Console)

In the Search Console, click the title of the post and this will take you to a list of keywords the post is ranking for. (You might need to remove the option to compare the last 30 days).

At the bottom of the table, click to show more rows – 25 or greater (25 worked for me). Now, rearrange the rows by clicking “impressions”.

Any surprises? Now do the same for “clicks”. From here is it apparent that there is a new keyword you could target? Annoyingly we just have to ignore ‘other’.

Compare the last 30 days to assess any changes. Has your average position changed? This could be the reason you are getting fewer clicks. What about your CTRs?

Turn off the comparison tool again. This time, export the results using the ‘export’ button at the top of the page (right-hand side next to save). Save to Google Sheets or CSV.

On Google Sheets, freeze the top row by highlighting and going to ‘View’ then Freeze row 1. Sort the columns by right-clicking on the letter then choosing Z-A, try this for both impressions and clicks.

Keyword Research

Now you have a list of keywords that Google ranks your post for, but how do you know if it would be worth it to switch the post’s target keyword?

Open up Keysearch (this is the economical keyword research tool we use, it’s $17 per month – we can offer you 20% off, just quote MTH20) and type the first potential keyword into the search bar.

Take a step back: how to use Keysearch

Look at the volume and competition on the table on the right. Add the data for the keywords you’re researching to your spreadsheet next to the appropriate keywords, to keep track.

Be sure to assess the top 10 competitors for each keyword. Can you beat them? Are you already included in the list?

Add the keyword to a ‘My List’ by clicking ‘save keywords’ at the top of the table (I love this function). 

Repeat for all potential keywords.

The Decision

Looking at the data on the spreadsheet, is it worth changing your target keyword for this post, using our 8 step on-page SEO strategy

On-page SEO Strategy


Something to remember, we hear often in Make Traffic Happen’s Facebook group that members are disappointed that they are not ranking well for their targeted keywords. Unfortunately, when you hit publish the job is not done. You need to work on your off-page SEO (backlinks) and also be patient. Once some time has gone by and Google has placed you, you can check what keywords it likes you for and adapt accordingly if you wish. We always say this with caution for your top referring posts though. Find out more in our Revive Old Content eBook.

Revive Old Content ebook


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When should I change a targeted keyword?

A: This is entirely up to you. I’ve ranked in a matter of days but also now see decent traffic from a post that took one year to rank. We asked how old is your most popular post: see the results.

Q: I can’t afford a keyword research tool, what should I do?

A: I was there too, travelling long-term with no income but it really wasn’t until I invested that I could increase my website traffic. This got me to the number of sessions required to apply for ads. Having a keyword tool helps me target money-making keywords so I can effectively make an income off affiliates too. You have to accumulate to speculate in business. We’ve reviewed two free keyword research tools here and compared them to a premium tool.

Q: I am really trying to optimise articles but it’s not working?

A: We can help if you have a spare hour. Check out our one to one audit service.

Q: Google Analytics scares me, what if I break it?

A: My name is Gemma, I break everything! Analytics used to scare me too but the more you use it the easier it becomes.

Here’s a quick introduction.

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7 thoughts on “Dilemma: When Should You Change Targeted Keywords on a Post?

  1. Anupam Sethi says:

    Thanks for this.
    Please tell if we writea post on a target keyword, but our post gets high impression on other queries.

    Should we change that target keywird to the high impression queries?

    • Laura says:

      You can change it if you think that new query is more in line with the user intent of the article. It might help to sway it towards what Google thinks it is.

  2. Larissa says:

    Great article, and it ties in beautifully with your Revive Old Content book! I’ve also found this method is useful for determining if I need to restructure a blog post. . . i.e. not meeting reader’s needs . . .or even my own intent.

    For example, I have a post about best places to stay in a given European city (with LOTS of affiliate links). The post does so-so in traffic, yet affiliate links are next to nothing. Turns out I’m ranked highly for a description of the city’s neighborhoods, but I’m “down in the dungeon” (page 5 or 6) for lodging/hotels, etc. Enough time has passed (& I’ve promoted, etc.) for this to be “the way it is.” As I look back at my post, I spend a few hundred words at the beginning describing the neighborhoods, & how the city is organized. It’s not until well “below the fold” that I even get into describing hotels . So Google has basically told me what it “thinks” the post is about . . . and I totally missed it–DUH! Time for a re-work!

    • Gemma says:

      We’re learning every day Larissa! I definitely have a greater understanding of affiliates having really dug deep into reports and analytics for a year. Glad you had that lightbulb moment.

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