Keywords are not dead! They’re also not the holy grail of blogging as may have been the case previously. So, should you even bother knowing how to do keyword research for blog posts?
Keywords can still help maximize your organic search rankings and attract organic traffic, if you choose the right keywords and you know how to use them.
But… doing this can be mega confusing.
Some bloggers say keywords are a waste of time and then there’s all that conflicting information about what makes a good keyword and what doesn’t.
In this post I’ll show you how to do keyword research for blog posts so you’re ready to integrate them in your blog poats the right way.
What is a keyword and why are they useful?
Most of us use keywords regularly. They’re the words and phrases we type into search engines like Google when we’re looking for information.
When we do this, we hope like mad that the results that come back will give us exactly what we’re looking for. Frustratingly, this is not always the case as you may well have experienced yourself.
Obviously, this is one of the ways you can get people to see your blog posts, as long as the search engines present your information as a link to use and they’re convinced you can help them with your information.
If you can give the searcher what they’re looking for, you have a winner. Rinse and repeat and you’ll be on your way to knowing how to use keywords effectively.
Bloggers who dismiss keywords completely, either don’t know any better or they already have so many readers via other means, like social media, that they don’t need to attract anymore this way.
If you’re a beginner blogger however, this won’t be you, so here’s my ten tips for mastering keyword research for blog posts.
#1 use a keyword research tool
You’ll must use keyword suggestion software to do research. There are both paid and free tools available, the most well known of which is the Google Keyword Planner.
To access this tool you will need to set up a Google Ads account (previously known as Google Adwords). Once you do, choose the “Keyword Planner” where you’ll be able to find new keywords as well as get metrics and forecasts for your keywords.
I have used a number of paid tools, most of which have thoroughly confused me. In my opinion you don’t need most of these unless you intend doing a lot of paid advertising.
Other than using Google, my tool of choice is Jaaxy. It’s an online application so there’s no need to download clunky software.
It’s also easy to use, reliable and gives me what I need. You can read my Jaaxy review if you want to know more the tool.
#2 choose keywords according to criteria
You must know exactly what you’re looking for, so you can quickly decide whether a keyword meets the criteria or not.
Looking for high traffic keywords with little competition is a losing battle. You’re going to spend far to much time trying to find keywords like this. I’m not sure they even exist nowadays.
On the other hand deluding yourself that somehow you’ll manage to rank for most competitive keywords will also get you nowhere, especially when you’re just starting out.
I suggest you choose keywords according to bench-marked keyword data.
What you want are keywords that get sufficient traffic and where the competition is not too strong.
The idea is that you create as much quality content, using one keyword per blog post. The more pieces of content you have like this, the more assets you have working on your behalf.
This is a far better strategy than having fewer blog posts in which you try to rank for keywords that are too competitive.
Don’t make the keyword, the total focus of your blog post either. Use it as anchor and then craft a post around it, that is useful and engaging.
I suggest looking for keywords that get approximately 100 searches per month or more and that have 100 or fewer websites trying to rank for the same search term.
#3 keywords must make grammatical sense
You will find plenty keywords that have spelling errors or do not make grammatical sense. Do not use these keywords, even if they appear to be attractive from a data point of view.
Search engines look for relevant keywords, used in context, and which make sense to the article you’re writing. Keep in mind that you must also write quality content that is sufficiently detailed.
In the past, content creators could get away with adding keywords randomly to posts that did not make much sense. In other words, they spammed the living daylights out of their content.
Search engines have come a long way since those days and you won’t get away with it today.
For example, the following keyword phrase does not make grammatical sense, “best noise cancelling headphones flying”. There is a word missing. Had it been “best noise cancelling headphones for flying” that would be a different matter.
#4 Put yourself in the searcher’s mindset
You must look at keywords from the user’s point of view not your own.
What are they are they looking for and expecting when they type in the words they do?
If the keyword you use is vague or too broad, you won’t know for sure what they’re looking for.
This means you’ll write a very general post which may or may not hot the mark . This means both you and the user could end up not getting the result you wanted.
But let’s say they search using the keyword, in ear noise cancelling headphones. It’s a lot more specific, and obvious what they’re looking for.
If you’ve used the same keyword but written a general post about noise cancelling headphones, then it’s likely they will click away to find information that’s more specific to their needs.
Writing a keyword relevant post successfully is all about giving the user what they’re looking for, not what you feel comfortable writing about.
#5 PRIORITIZE finding quality keywords
A quality keyword is one that’s as specific and complete as possible. These are usually phrases of two or more words, known as long tail keywords. If you’re going to use keywords at all then I suggest using long tail keywords in your blog posts.
The biggest advantage for you is that they usually give you enough information so you know exactly what the searcher is looking for.
For example, a keyword like, noise cancelling headphones may seem as if it’s detailed, but I would not regard this as a quality keyword, because it’s still too broad.
I have no way of knowing for definite what the searcher is looking for. Of course they may just be looking for an overview on the subject, but I still don’t know this for sure.
A quality keyword is specific and includes searcher intent. In other words, there’s an indication of what the user intends to do with the information.
Consider this keyword, ‘cheapest in-ear noise cancelling wireless headphones with microphone’.
Firstly, there’s no misunderstanding what the user is looking for. The word, ‘cheapest’ means they’re probably close to making a purchase.
As a blogger you’d have a much better idea of their intention which would help you to know what kind of blog post to write.
They only want information about the cheapest products and it would be a good idea to include some purchase links.
Some words that clarify intent include: ‘buy’,’start’, ‘how to’ ‘find’, ‘eliminate’, ‘affordable’, ‘best’, ‘review’, and ‘top’.
#6 PRIORITIZE finding long tail keywords
One of the best ways to find long tail keywords is to explore those suggested by Google. According to Google, their suggestions are based are common searches others have made. If others have searched for particular phrases they could be worth targeting.
Simply start with a root keyword and then add a letter of the alphabet. Google will spit out some ideas. Make a note of any you want to explore further and then move on the next letter.
There are research tools that can make doing this easier. The tool I use, Jaaxy does an excellent job of this.
Watch the short video below to see what I mean.
#7 STUDY the competition
When you know that a search term gets 100 or more searches per month and there are less than 100 websites competing for the same keyword, it’s time to see exactly who the competition is.
Even though there may not be a lot of competition that might be because the competition is too strong for others to even bother about it. There’s no point trying to rank for a search term if you stand little to no chance of succeeding.
Type the keyword into Google and study what’s commonly referred to as the SERPS – the search engine results pages.
Your aim should always be to have your post come up on the first page of results. It may also be fine to be on the second or third page at a push.
If the results are dominated by industry heavy weights like Amazon and similar sized sites, that’s an indication that it may be challenging for your post to rank for that term.
If there are some smaller websites and blogs ranking for the keyword then there’s a chance you can compete.
Don’t stop there though. Examine the posts on the first page. Do they succeed at satisfying the user’s intention?
Do they give the user what they expect? If not, and you can do a better job, then it’s a keyword worth considering further.
#8 include non written search terms
When doing research, don’t limit your ideas to typed words. Look at search terms that may be more conversational than written ones.
Increasingly, people are using speech enabled devices to search for information. One just needs to consider how popular Siri, Google Voice, Alexa and other voice-activated technology is becoming.
Is the way someone speaks a search enquiry, different from typing it?
For example, a searcher may type, ‘buy noise cancelling headphones’ but say ‘where can I get noise cancelling headphones’.
As far as I know we don’t yet have data to substantiate the differences that may exist but it may still be worth thinking about as you do your research.
#9 create lists of keywords
Okay, I accept I’m a bit fanatical when it comes to being organized, but seriously, so should you be, unless you have so much time on your hands you don’t mind wasting it!
When you find long tail keywords to use in your bog posts, you may only come back to some of your research weeks or months later.
Don’t want waste unnecessary time searching for information you wrote down on a scrap of paper, or worse still, which you have to redo because you can’t find the information.
Rather keep a simple spreadsheet filed away on your computer for later and easy access. If you don’t have Excel, you can use Google sheets which is free. Remember you can open an Excel spreadsheet in Google sheets too.
Jaaxy also has a lists function so you can add keywords to lists you create as you do your research which is very helpful.
Like I said I am overly organized so I use Jaaxy lists as well as spreadsheets depending on what the research is for.
Here’s an example of one of my spreadsheets.
If you don’t want to create one of your own, you can also download a free template I’ve created for you below.
#10 match keywords with relevant content
Although technically, this tip does not relate directly to researching keywords, it’s still a vital piece of your keyword success blueprint.
There’s little point in finding great keywords and not writing relevant, quality and original content to match the keywords.
The idea is not only to get readers to your blog post but to keep them there so they lap up what you have to say on the topic.
Research content as thoroughly as you do keywords. Write in a way that connects with your target audience.
Even though there will be other content aimed at ranking for the same keyword, yours must stand out otherwise why write it?
Do not simply rehash what already exists. If you do, you will simply have wasted your keyword research time and the potential to maximize the impact of a great keyword.
How can you make your post original? How can you offer readers value that other posts on the same topic are not?
keyword research for blog posts – wrap up
What I’ve covered in this post is the first step if you’re going t write a keyword oriented blog post. You must find a decent keyword before you can use it in a post or optimize it for SEO.
Keyword research for blog posts does not have to be overly confusing or terrifying. Follow the above tips and with practice you’ll soon get better at finding keywords for your articles. What do you think?
Got Questions? Something to say? Leave a comment. Let’s chat
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