How to Find, Optimize, and Refine Your Keywords for Conversions

by Kristi Hines

Last updated on February 21st, 2018

One of the overall goals of online marketing is to increase the rankings of your keywords.

Unfortunately, some people get a little too concerned with rankings, and forget about the bigger picture – which of the keywords brings in the most conversions?

After all, rankings don’t pay the bills.  Conversions do.

If you’re targeting keywords that are not converting, you are wasting your time, energy and money.

The following tips will help you determine which keywords are converting for you, which ones need work, and which ones you need to refine.

Before you begin, be sure that you have setup goals in your Google Analytics.  If you haven’t set up goals (shame on you), refer to the first section of this post to get them setup, let them collect some data for a few weeks, then continue.

Finding Keywords That Lead to Conversions

First, you will want to know which keywords that are driving traffic to your website are leading to conversions. This is relatively simple – just go into your Google Analytics Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic. Here you will see the top keywords driving traffic to your site. Next, you will want to click on the Goal Set option under the Explorer.

NOTE: This is the “NEW” version of Google Analytics (in Beta as of this writing) available by clicking “NEW VERSION” in your Google Analytics dashboard.

Keywords that convert

You should see all of your keywords next to columns of Goal Conversion Rate (an overall percentage of goals completed in each Goal Set), Per Goal Value (the dollar amount you have assigned for each completed goal), and then a column for conversion rates of individual goal under that goal set. You can click on each of the headers to sort your keywords by which ones lead to the highest goal completion rates.

What you will find is that some of the goals with the highest conversion rate don’t generate much traffic. So you will need to scroll down your list and jot down any keywords that get decent search volume and have a good conversion rate.

For some, a good conversion rate will be anything above zero.  Others might have enough activity to consider targeting only keywords that have a rate of 50% or higher.

Once you have this list, you know the keywords to start honing in on for your online marketing efforts.

Here are some ways to target these high-converting keywords:

  • Write more content with these keywords and related, long-tail keyword phrases.
  • Build links that target those keyword phrases.
  • Include those keyword phrases in tweets.

If you’re not ranking #1 for the keywords that convert the best for you, make that your goal.  The more traffic you receive on that high-converting keyword, the more visitors will convert.

Finding Keywords That Need Some Work

Now, you are going to sort that same keyword list by traffic and look at the top traffic generating keywords. What are the conversion rates for those keywords? If you’re getting a lot of traffic to keywords but they are not converting well, you have two options.

Option 1: Increase Landing Page Conversions

Using the dropdown next to Secondary Dimension, select the Landing Page option under Traffic Sources.

Secondary Dimension

This will add a column to your keyword list showing you the landing page people arrive upon when searching for each keyword. From here, you will need to visit those landing pages and evaluate what you can do to help them convert by taking the following steps.

  • Ensure that the content on the page satisfies the keyword queried.
  • Check to see if there is a call to action, and that call to action is clear.
  • Remove distractions on the page to draw more attention to the call to action that could lead to a conversion.
  • Find ways to keep visitors from exiting the site from this landing page by directing them to pages on your site that have a higher conversion rate.

If none of these increase conversion, consider Option 2.

Option 2 – Refine Your Keywords

If you have a lot of keywords that are not converting well, even after optimizing your landing pages for conversions, you might have an issue with the keywords themselves.

If people are only coming to your site for free information about the keyword queried, and your site’s goal is to sell a product or service, then you need to stop focusing on this keyword. Find related keywords that have a commercial purpose and focus your efforts on them using similar content optimized towards that keyword.

As an example, if you were a local doctor offering homeopathic treatment for diabetes, you may not get a lot of conversions from people who are searching for just diabetes. You will probably be better off targeting related keywords like diabetes treatment, homeopathic diabetes treatment, Los Angeles diabetes treatment, and Los Angeles homeopathic diabetes treatment. Those terms would likely be used by visitors who are looking to purchase your service, and therefore would be higher converting keywords.

Once you have found the keywords that deliver the most conversions, have created optimized landing pages for those keywords to increase traffic, and have refined your targeted keywords from informational to commercial, you will find that your keyword goal conversion rates will steadily increase.



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Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and professional blogger who helps develop blog content and lead magnets for businesses.


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  1. May 1, 2015 at 7:06 am

    very helpful…I never new analytics had so many useful tools, thanks.

  2. Waldemar says:
    May 25, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Kristi, you are great! Thank you for your instruction. I was clueless before 🙂

    • May 25, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Waldemar, so glad you got the information you needed. 🙂

  3. Heidi Strom Moon/CDG Interactive says:
    January 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

    These are great tips, Kristi. If, like us, you’ve found that those top-converting keywords have been replaced by the new “(not provided)” it means more detective work is required for optimization. We’ve written a blog post about the topic ( inspired by these recommendations from analytics guru Avinash Kaushik (

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      January 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

      I have definitely noticed an increase in “not provided” — thanks for the tips Heidi.

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