How to Find High-Volume Keywords You're Almost Ranking For
I love the new Google Search Console Performance Report. If you haven’t seen it, it looks like this:
Some of my favorite features of this report are:
The easy date range filter and comparison
The ability to isolate query data by clicks, impressions, CTR, or position
The ability to filter by page so you can see all the keywords a URL ranks for
But there was one thing I was having a hard time doing in this tool, and that was finding high-volume keywords by current rank position. In other words, I was trying to isolate heavily searched keywords I was already ranking for, but in “cusp” positions (bottom of page 1 to page 2). The thought was that, with relatively little effort, I could capture a lot of search volume - a quick win.
This is where the Keywords Everywhere browser plugin saved the day. Here’s what Google Search Console’s Performance report looks like before and after turning on this plugin.
The Keywords Everywhere plugin adds three new columns to the Performance report using data from the Google Keyword Planner:
Cost Per Click (CPC)
I personally have the Keywords Everywhere plugin configured to highlight keywords on my page that have an estimated monthly search volume of at least 50. Doing so allows me to quickly see which keywords have the most traffic opportunity and prioritize those.
Layering Keywords Everywhere’s volume data on top of Google Search Console’s position data allowed me to see query, search volume, and position, all in one place. Hooray!
But I didn’t want to stop there. I knew that exporting this data into Excel or Google Sheets would also allow me to apply some custom sorting and filtering options to hone in on my opportunities even more tightly.
Because Keywords Everywhere runs in your browser and doesn’t actually change the Google Search Console data, the “Export” feature will only return GSC data.
I also wanted that volume data for Keywords Everywhere, so I manually copy/pasted into Excel. Just set the max to “500 rows per page” and drag your cursor over all the data (include the table headings!).
I really only cared about the query, position, and volume column for the purposes of this task, but I also left in clicks & CTR so I could see which queries I might already be getting some traction on. I deleted all the other columns.
Once I had all the data I wanted, I used Excel to format the data as a table.
From there, it’s easy to select your column headings to sort and filter the data. First, I sorted by Position, Smallest to Largest.
Then, I applied a filter to the Volume column. I opted to filter out everything that didn’t have a volume of at least 10 (if you’re going to repeat this process, feel free to choose any volume minimum you want). To do that, I added the Number Filter > Greater Than > 10.
What I was left with was a list of queries with at least notable search volume that my website was already ranking for. Since the table is sorted by position, I just scanned to the section of keywords ranking somewhere in the range of position 7-25. Those are well within the range where, with a little effort, they could fairly quickly rank on page 1 (or higher up on page 1) and hopefully capture a decent amount of traffic.
If you’re going to repeat this process, I do have some disclaimers:
Google Search Console’s position data is averaged. If it says “11.5” that means you could have ranked in position 3 then in position 20 over the course of the date range you have selected.
Don’t blindly optimize for the high-volume keywords you’re on the cusp of ranking on page 1 for. Before modifying your page so that it’s better optimized for a particular query, check the SERP for that query. If you search that phrase in Google, and you notice any of the following, it may not be a great opportunity:
Results that don’t match the intent of your page
The results page is dominated by “behemoth” sites like Wikipedia
The query is answered by Google’s Knowledge Graph (ex: “What’s the weather today?”)
If you see that a query is dominated by SERP features, that’s not an immediate cause to throw it out. I would evaluate what types of SERP features appear on the results page, and whether I could reasonably target any of them. For example, if the result is dominated by Featured Snippets and People Also Ask boxes, you could still go after that keyword, hoping to rank in one of those features. Just know that you might actually experience a lower-than-expected CTR due to the fact that SERP features tend to keep people on Google.
To keep track of which opportunities I wanted to target, I just highlighted the cells in green. The final product looked like this:
Hopefully this tip can come in handy for you too!