What Does Cohort Analysis Mean For your Keyword Strategy

eCommerce stores are exploding. They’re everywhere. Is it a case of those who have the best products and deliver the best customer service that wins?

Not exactly.

Two things that are key to your success as an eCommerce business often go under the radar of so many online store owners. Namely:

1) Cohort analysis

2) Keyword strategy

In this article, I’ll be exploring both. Taking a look at what cohort analysis is, and how the changes made to Google’s algorithm means that your cohort analysis is going to influence your future keyword strategies.

What Is Cohort Analysis?

A cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic (or value).

For example, as an eCommerce store owner, you might group together a cohort who all signed up to your email list.

Why would you do this?

The answer is simple: To analyze the patterns of behaviour of a certain group of users (or cohort) in order to compare them to other groups, looking out for trends and differences.

For example, do those who signed up to your list spend more than those who haven’t?

Once you identify these trends and differences, you will then have a better understanding of what makes your store so attractive (or unattractive) to your customers.

Remember that customers are sentient beings who do things for a reason. Once you understand what these reasons are, you can then implement better marketing strategies.

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

“Okay … but what’s the relationship between cohort analysis and my keyword strategy?”

To understand this, we first need to take a look at how keyword research is changing.

Keywords in 2018

Ah, Google. I love you, but do you need to keep changing SO much?

Google seems to be constantly making a raft of changes to their algorithms. A few years back, you could stuff your articles with several short-tail keywords and climb to the top of the SERPs.

Eventually, Google realized that many shady internet marketers were spamming the heck out of search engines, and so started to punish content for keyword stuffing. As such, we all had to get a bit savvy in regards how we researched and used keywords.

And now, in 2018, Google has made new changes. Keywords still matter, but as Moz points out, “we need to stop looking at keywords and start looking at queries.”

In other words, the user intent behind a search now matters.

But what does this mean and what does it have to do with cohort analysis?

Keywords, Cohort Analysis and user Intent

As an online marketer, I’ve implemented a few SEO campaigns over the years, some of which were more successful than others.

When choosing a keyword – especially for an online store – I would open my trusty Google Keyword Planner and look for keywords that had good search volume.

For example, if “men’s black leather jacket” was being searched more than 10,000 times per week, I’d consider that to be a long-tail keyword well worth adding to my arsenal of keywords.

The problem – as Google now wants us to realize – is that “men’s black leather jacket” tells me literally nothing about my buyers persona.

At least, it doesn’t tell me at what stage of the buying journey they are at, or what their implicit intent is. All I know is their explicit intent. And this just isn’t enough anymore.

Understanding the Person Behind the Search Term

The key takeaway here is that Google wants you to understand the person behind a search. Once you understand this, you can then start to enforce a more effective keyword strategy that gives people what they want.

See, Google is tired of people landing on the wrong pages. To make sure this happens less often, you need to show that you understand user intent.

I’ll go over a quick sketch of what this means now:

Let’s imagine I type into Google “best coffee machine.”

That doesn’t really say much about a users intent, but if I scroll down to the bottom of the page I’ll come to the “related searches” section.

Here, I can see that a related search is “best manual coffee machine.” This tells me that a users intent is to purchase a manual coffee machine.

Once I’ve got this information, I can start building a stronger keyword campaign that matches up the right customers with the right content.

However, Google’s related searches is a tad limited and there are so many other strategies that can tell you a great deal about your customers.

This is where cohort analysis comes in. Here are a few examples of what it can do for your keyword strategy:

1. Cohort analysis and loyalty programs

Is your keyword strategy optimized for loyalty programs? If it is, you might actually be wasting your time.

Many online stores offer loyalty programs, but a loyalty program might not be something your customers are looking for.

On the other hand, it might be totally what they’re looking for and words and phrases like “discount items” should be among your list of keywords.

Cohort analytics gives you an insight into whether or not your customers are on the lookout for loyalty programs. It shows you how spending and AOV alters over time.

For instance, if your AOV and the size of your orders don’t drop over a period of time, you pretty much don’t need to execute a loyalty program – and thus any keywords associated with such a program – discount, points, rewards etc – aren’t needed.

On the other hand, they might be needed, and you might gain a head start over the competition if you find a way of adding them to your keyword strategy. Annex Cloud is a software that allows your company to offer its customers an omni-channel loyalty program.

2. Cohort analysis and customer expectations

When you know what your customers expect from your store, you can put together a stronger, keyword optimized content marketing strategy.

For example, cohort analysis can show you why someone might have abandoned their cart. Maybe it’s because you were inflexible with your payment solutions.

For example, let’s consider a customer searches for “online clothes store offline payment.”

This customer wants to make a purchase, but they want to see a degree of flexibility from you with your payment methods. In other words, they want an omnichannel shopping experience, and they probably want to see a point of sale card reader in your store.


These are just 2 examples of how cohort analysis can affect your keyword strategy, but you get the picture. Once you identify patterns of behavior like this, you can then start to match up your keyword strategy with user intent, thus driving more of the right traffic to your pages.  

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