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Uncovering Accidental Keywords that Hide Keyword Clusters to Help a Site Earn Its First Dollars

This year Moon and I decided to launch 10 affiliate sites and chart the site’s progress as we work.  For the last ten years my background has been in Local SEO and the last two years I have specialized in On-Page SEO for all types of sites. I have wanted to do more with Affiliate but I have always had a large client load that prevented me from experimenting.  This year we decided to dive in anyway, and launch 10 affiliate sites as an RYR project between Moon, myself and our team.  As the sites grow and develop, we hope to share many of the insights with our Rule Your Rankings family.  Below is a small glimpse into our affiliate sites.

What is an Accidental Keyword and why should you care?

So, what the heck is an accidental keyword?  This is a keyword that I didn’t intend to rank for and I didn’t do any keyword research for this particular keyword.  You will find these accidental keywords in your Ahref’s report or in your Google Search Console.  The accidental keywords are keywords that your site is ranking for and you didn’t realize the keywords even existed.  But, one day as you go over your reports and dig into your site you realize there are keywords the website is ranking for that could be of some value. 

All Websites have Accidental Keywords but are they valuable?

All websites will have accidental keywords but that doesn’t mean they are all of value.  As I went over my site’s performance in Google Search console, I did find some accidental keywords that have no intent behind them or were of no interest to my site.  When I reviewed the accidental keywords, I am looking for intent, do they have buying intent behind the keywords that would fit nicely into my site and produce affiliate income?  OR do the keywords have informational purposes that fit nicely into my site that will produce large amounts of traffic?  If the accidental keywords have no buying intent and no informational purposes that will fit into the theme of my site then I will toss them out.  If you have a website about Tools and you find keywords about Hippo’s you probably don’t want to pursue that rabbit hole.

What do Accidental Keywords Look like and how do you find them?

I use Google Search Console to take a look at my site’s performance.  You can go to Google Search Console and then drill down to Performance.  I then take a look at the last 3 Months First.  Here is an image of what I am looking for when I am on the hunt for accidental keywords:

I sort the last 3 months by Impressions so I can see what pages/posts are getting a large amount of impressions, which means how many times the site appeared in the search results. This is somewhat of a new site so I don’t expect to find a lot of accidental keywords but the older your site is and the larger your site is you will find a lot more of accidental keywords.  I prefer to focus on keywords that have more than 1,500 impressions in a 3 months span.  For this particular site we have 8 Keywords that fit into all of the above criteria so far.  See Image Below:

Google Search Console: Performance and Impressions the last 28 days:

For the last 28 days of impressions for this particular site because it is newer and not as big, I am looking for impressions of 500 and more.  If you have a much larger and or older site you will want to raise the bar and look for a larger amount of impressions to help you narrow down your search.

Ignore CTR for now: With accidental keywords you will see a much lower CTR.  These are accidental keywords so you aren’t optimized for these keywords and you will also rank lower perhaps lower page 1 and even on page 2.  The CTR will go up as you optimize for the accidental keywords but at this point CTR isn’t an indicator for me as to the worth or the value of the accidental keyword.  In the above image I had already optimized when I wrote this site’s story so there is a larger CTR that you see in my image than when I first discovered the top two accidental keywords.

Impressions for the last 28 days!

Accidental keywords Might “show” 0 search traffic! But I don’t care!

When I ran all of my accidental keywords in any of the search trackers the keywords showed “0” search volume / traffic.  Because the different trackers will show distorted search volume for keywords that doesn’t mean the keywords are bad or not worth your time.  In fact, all of my keywords in this particular example showed me “0” search traffic.  I even started to check sites that ranked for those particular terms in Ahrefs and look for traffic.  I didn’t find anything spectacular at all and if I had stopped there, I never would have found the “accidental traffic” and my site would still be waiting to make its first affiliate commissions (if I had to guess).

Keyword Clusters are Gold!

Let’s continue the accidental keyword process; I have sorted out the keywords with high impressions and I have made sure to get rid of any holiday or bumps in impressions that didn’t last or was a one-time deal.  The website in this example I have a total of 8 accidental keywords that I feel confident in targeting at this point.  I then took it one step further and dialed the Google Search Console for Performance and selected 3 Months and then clicked on the Page with the impressions one by one for each of the eight keywords.  After I have the page selected, I then selected “Queries”.

Step 1: Performance

Step 2:  Select Pages and Sort by Impressions

Step 3: Click on Queries

Here I am looking for our friend “Keyword Clusters”.  I am not worried about CTR or Impressions at this step but I am looking to see how many keywords are clustered from the one accidental keyword we found.  In this particular case I discovered 175 keywords otherwise known as a keyword cluster that was behind the One accidental keyword I found during my research.  It was 175 different variations of my accidental keyword!  The one accidental keyword doesn’t show traffic but what if you optimize properly for the accidental keyword and then rank well for the keyword cluster of 175 keyword terms?

Well, for this site in particular it resulted in going from 230 clicks to the site to 1.1K clicks to the site.  This is a look of the actual page and not the entire site.  The actual page brought in 230 clicks before we optimized for the Accidental Keyword as seen in the image below.

Before Accidental Keyword Optimization

After we optimized the page for the Accidental keyword and Keyword cluster, we now show 1.1K total clicks to this page.  This is not the clicks of the total site.  You can also see that impressions for this site has rose significantly as well. 

This isn’t the end of the story by any means.  This particular keyword cluster is only ranking on average in 3rd position for the cluster of keywords.  We still have some optimizing to do to push this keyword cluster into 1st position for all of the 175 keywords in this cluster.  Keep in mind the Accidental keywords were not revealed during our keyword research phase and only found once we had the site launched and we began to pick up ranking data.  The keyword tools could not have revealed the Accidental keywords as they are hiding a keyword cluster that keyword tools do not target.

This is the data from ONE accidental keyword / keyword cluster that is on average in 3rd position at the time I am writing this article.  The data was so encouraging we have made the decision to push this cluster all the way into 1st position.  This site is still new and not six months old yet and no links have been used.  The site has acquired two backlinks by “accident” from two websites that are quoting the site.  The accidental keywords so far have appeared to be low competition that keyword tools haven’t been able to pick up on due to the nature of the keyword cluster.  For this website the Accidental keyword technique resulted in the website being able to earn a monthly income before the site was six months old.

If you would like the exact method I used to optimize for my accidental keywords and keyword cluster let me know in our Facebook Group: Rule Your Rankings! SEO UNSTUCK™