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What do you think about keyword research for blog posts?

Some bloggers say keywords are a waste of time. 

And what about all the conflicting information about what makes a good keyword and what doesn’t?

One thing’s for sure – Keywords can be mega confusing!

However, if you want your posts to be found in search engine results, then  knowing how to do keyword research  is an essential skill to learn and  develop.

In this post I’ll be sharing ten tips to help you master keyword research for blog posts so that you can get more organic traffic to your blog, new followers and potentially more sales too. 

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 and even when we want to make a purchase.

When you do, you hope like mad that the results that come back will give you exactly what you want. As you will know this does not always happen.

This is also one of the ways you can get people to see your blog posts. But only if you use the same keyword in your post as the searcher, and you can give them what they’re looking for. Do this and you could 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 must use keyword suggestion software to do research. There are both paid and free tools available.

According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, the best free keyword research tool is Soovle. This tool gives you keyword ideas from  a variety of sources, including, Google, YouTube, Bing, and Amazon, all in the one place. Now that’s useful!

Previously I’ve also used Ubersuggest which is similar to Soovle but it does not fetch key words form multiple sources as far as I know.

Lately I’ve  been using Soovle a lot more and I really like it. As with Ubersuggest, you can download your favorite keywords to a CSV file.  The feature I find most handy is  being able to drag and drop your saved suggestions right there on the site.

I’ve 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 or you are at an advanced keyword research skill level.

My paid tool of choice is Jaaxy. They do have a free starter membership so it’s well worth checking it out if you’ve not tried it before.

Interestingly enough it’s also recommended by SEO expert, Brain Dean as a keywrod tool worht using.

I like Jaaxy because I find keywords I don’t find using other tools and best of all, it’s easy to use. It’s also reliable and gives me what I need. You can read my Jaaxy review if you want to know more about Jaaxy.

 

#2 choose keywords according to criteria

You must know exactly what you’re looking for, then you can quickly decide whether a keyword meets your criteria or not.

Looking for high traffic keywords with little to no competition is a losing battle. You’re going to spend far too much time trying to find keywords like this. I’m not sure that many even exist nowadays.

Also there’s no point in deluding yourself that somehow you’ll manage to rank for the most competitive keywords any time soon, especially when you’re just starting out.

I suggest you choose keywords according to bench-marked keyword data but be continually open to testing and changing this as you go.

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 100 or more searches per month or 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.

 

keyword research for blogs

 

 

#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, for example, “noise cancelling headphones”, you can’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 want.

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 and much easier for you to give them what they want.

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.

#5  PRIORITIZE finding quality keywords 

A quality keyword is one that’s as specific and complete as possible. These are usually phrases of three 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 more 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.

Google search

There are research tools that can make doing this easier and faster. The tool I use, Jaaxy, does an excellent job of this.

Watch the short video below to see what I mean.

UPDATE:

Since making this video I’ve changed  the criteria I use slightly after learning more from some experienced marketers.

I now look for keywords with 100 or more searches per month, a QSR of 50 or less, regarded as ‘Great” for quality, have a SEO score of 90 or more.

 

#7 STUDY the competition

When you know that a search term gets 100 or more searches per month and there are not too many 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. 

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.

I also qualify the keyword in Google as having 500 or less competing websites for the exact match term.

To read more about this, see How to Research for Long Tail Keywords That get Your Posts Found.

 

#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 ‘ Alexa, 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.

 

Smart phone using Google voice

 

#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.

I tend to use Jaaxy lists as well as spreadsheets depending on what the research is for.

Here’s an example of one of my spreadsheets.

 

how to do long tail keyword research

 

If you don’t want to create one of your own, you can also download a free template I’ve created for you below.

 

how to do keyword research

 

 

#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

If you’re going to do keyword research for blog posts you must find a decent keyword before you can use it in a post or optimize it for SEO.

Finding good keywords 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

30 Comments

  1. Sujandar Mahesan

    You took the words right out of my mouth “Keywords Can Be Mega Confusing”. I loved all the ten tips in this article but the one which really made me think was the fourth tip where it says “PUT YOURSELF IN THE SEARCHER’S MINDSET”. That is something that everyone should really think about while they are doing keyword research.

    This can really help them find an appropriate keyword for an article.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Sujandar

      Great to have you add to the conversation here – thank you. 

      I can honestly say that putting myself in the mindset of the searcher is probably one of the most valuable things I’ve learned about keyword research. 

      Before that I used to see a keyword and think, ‘I can write a blog post about that’, without even thinking about what someone using the keyword was expecting. It was completely the wrong focus. Now I always ask myself, ‘When someone uses this keyword what do they want to know?’ so I end up writing reader oriented posts rather than blogger oriented posts. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  2. Celeste

    This is a very helpful post. Many bloggers overlook the importance of keywords and not only have you demonstrated how vital they are to a successful blog but you have also clarified and simplified how to use keywords effectively. Not many sites provide this information and I often hear how important keywords are but I never actually know how to use them. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hello Celeste 

      Really pleased to read that you found this post helpful. 

      I was confused about keywords for a long time when I first started online but now I just stick to the basics I covered in this post and so far so good. 

      Thanks for stopping by and adding your comment here. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  3. Michel

    Wow. Thank you for this detailed article on keyword research and how to do it. This has always been an area that was a bit grey to me, but after reading this, the process seems a lot clearer in my mind. 

    Now my next focus I can see must be in choosing buyers keywords, like adding in words like ‘cheap’ and ‘affordable ‘. I am sure this tactic will make me a lot more sales in the long run. 

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Michel

      Thanks for the comment and positive feedback about the post. Much appreciated. 

      I have to admit I did not understand keywords very well for a long time so I know how you feel when you say it has been a bit of a grey area for you.

      Yes, great idea to use keywords with more commercial intent as then you know the searcher is closer to wanting to make a purchase rather than just looking for information. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  4. Sam Frederiksen

    Hey,

    I really enjoyed the video you posted about Jaxxy.  I have used it before but there were a few things that you brought to my attention I wasn’t even aware of, such as the slider bar in the alphabet soup header.  I’m going to be using that a lot more as I didn’t realize how useful that was.  I have used keywords that are not grammatically correct with little success, so that will be another thing I will change.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hey Sam

      Great to read I was able to add to your Jaaxy knowledge. It’s amazing how sometimes we miss functionality that once we know about it makes life a whole lot easier. 

      Definitely also forget about the grammatically incorrect keywords. In my experience they definitely don’t work for the purposes of blogging.

      Thanks for the comment Sam

      Mark 

      Reply
  5. Jasmine

    This was a really good article Mark. I am a newbie in affiliate marketing and am also a user of the Jaaxy tool. The tip that really stood out to me the most was tip #8. I’ve done my homework about understanding keyword research and that is the first time I’ve heard that suggestion. It is also genius. Even with knowing how much voice enabled searches are done now, I have never thought to take that into consideration when I did my keyword research.

    I will definitely take that tip and apply it to my own blog. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Jasmine

      Great to have you stop by and add your insights after reading about keyword research for blog posts.

      I think we forget just how popular voice searches are these days so I think it’s definitely worth considering so I’m pleased I was able to add to your knowledge about keywords.Sometimes the most obvious things are not that obvious until someone points them out to us. 😉

      Mark 

      Reply
  6. jessie palaypay

    I have totally taken for granted the power of long tail keywords. I have heard that there is more success and conversion in these keywords as an affiliate marketer than there is in much more broad ones. I hear the success is 90 percent or something like that.

    I also realize it is better to get a big piece of a small pie than no piece of a big pie too.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hey Jessie,

      Yes more high level keywords often look attractive but they are often illusive and close to impossible to rank for. You are far better off using long tail keywords and getting as much content on your site as possible. 

      Thanks for adding to the chat here.

      Mark 

      Reply
  7. JJ

    Hi Mark, this is a very useful blog. When I started doing online work, I used to ignore the information about keyword research because I thought I could just blog about anything and get results. This post sets out all the information and I find point#5 particularly valuable as I used to just find keywords and go ahead using them, without fine tuning my results. I have come to understand that there is a science to it, and using Jaaxy guides me to the results I am looking for. Thanks for the information. I have subscribed to your site.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi JJ

      I like how you say there is a science to keywords. I agree. Like you I always thought there was nothing to understanding keywords but that got me nowhere. 

      The more I work with keywords the more I understand what works and what doesn’t. These days I can spend hours looking for quality keywords as I quite enjoy unearthing the hidden gems that are still there to be used. 

      Great to hear that Jaxxy works well for you too and thanks so much for subscribing to my site. Great to have you visit and contribute here. Thanks. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  8. Tony

    Hi there: I like to first thank you for posting this insightful article on keyword and I agree with you 100% percent that finding a good keywords for blog posts does not have to be overly confusing. You tips in this article kind of summarizes it all. Also, I think that Wealthy Affiliate that you mentioned in this article is one of the best online platforms to learn online business! It’s not just a learning place but a real community!  Everyone inside is very nice and gives help whenever it’s needed. I think that your article has some very important information that will help people like me succeed in the online business world. It has all details that is needed to help me become a expert in using appropriate keywords for my posts.Thanks,Tony

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Tony 

      Thank you very much for your kind comments. It’s great to hear that this post about mastering keyword research is helpful and a good summary of the process to follow when looking for keywords.

      I agree with you, Wealthy Affiliate is a fantastic online membership community. The training is excellent and current one gets access to amazing tools and there are always people to help you when you need it. Exactly as you say. 

      I have been a member of various online training communities and I can say without a doubt  that Wealthy Affiliate offers the best value for money. 

      Wishing you all the best.

      Mark

      Reply
  9. Dave Sweney

    You have covered all the essentials regarding the subject of mastering the use of keywords used in blog posts in my opinion. For the uninitiated, if they read this post and follow the tips, they will be well on their way to getting more traffic, leads, and commissions or sales. 

    It is refreshing to see it all laid out like this, I only wish I had this list when I first started with online marketing. You can disregard keywords entirely (although why would you want to) if you choose to, but in my experience, over 4 years of the business, whether you are paying for traffic or getting that traffic through organic means (i.e. Google searches) using keywords is essential.

    I have seen many products that talk about you don’t need to think about these or content in general, all you need to do is buy the tool at a great cost and you will have push-button profits rolling into your bank account. That is simply a false promise, it does not go like that in the real world.

    Keywords is a subject that every online marketer must learn about, and secure a tool to determine which are the best to use for content creation, and then incorporate these into everything that they publish. When the online marketer does this consistently, they will see traffic.

    I have bookmarked this article for my VA team, I do this often when I find a post that is worthy of their review and we take it to an additional level…We discuss these articles during professional development sessions, and all of us come out of these the better for them. Very useful post, thanks!  

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Dave 

      Great to have you comment here again. As an online marketer with experience I especially appreciate you sharing your thoughts about what works and what doesn’t. 

      I am with you about keywords. I have no idea why bloggers and marketers would decide not to master keywords.

      The great thing about getting organic traffic form keywords, is it all happens behind the scenes. As long as you have chosen the best keywords, used them correctly, and crafted great content, those little keywords will reel people in without you doing another thing. 

      Of course there is more to it, since you also need to be offering value and a strong call to action that gets them taking the action you want, but it still starts with having a great keyword. 

      Once again, great to hear that this post will be useful for your VA team Dave. That’s the kind of feedback I like getting, since I know then that what I am producing is useful and has value for others too. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  10. Nuttanee

    You are so right about putting yourself in the searcher’s mindset. When it gets overwhelmed where I have to find the keyword, I think of me as trying to be original but I should think of what will the searchers put as well. What do you mean by include non written search terms? Isn’t that the same as long tail keywords? Thanks for the tips, I knew I always learn something new everyday.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      The mistake we make sometimes is not putting ourselves in the shoes of the person looking for information.They might search using totally different words to us. The good thing about long tail keywords is people use a lot more words, three or more and that gives us a very good idea of what they want to know about. 

      By non written search terms, I mean the words that someone might use when they speak to directly to Google or Alexa etc. These days more and more people are talking when they search on Google and and not writing. 

      The way we write and speak is often different. When we speak it is often more casual and not as structured and ‘correct’ as when we write. You are right though these are often longer phrases like long tail keywords. 

      Thank you for adding to the conversation here.

      Mark 

      Reply
  11. Christine

    I’m a newbie in blogging. Your 10 tips for keyword research are very helpful. Thank you.I am also using Jaaxy for my keyword research. The Alphabet Soup technique has given me lots of ideas for my blog posts. Your tip #8 to include non written search terms is something new to me, and it is definitely an important point to remember.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Christine

      Great to have you read my post and leave a comment, thank you.

      Jaaxy is a great little tool that is easy to use and comes up with lots of ideas that I often don’t see using other tools.

      Just remember to qualify your keywords in Google too. I wrote a post about this which you may find useful reading – How to Research for Long Tail Keywords That get Your Posts Found  

      Al the best

      Mark

      Reply
  12. Yormith96

    Hi Mark, I have been coming across many very insightful articles, reading then digesting them and trying to put them into practice. This has been my career online as a newbie with blogging, I have been reading and also putting into practices about keywords, since they will help my blog posts and Jaxxy is my special interest. Thanks for dropping a helpful article as always. 

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Putting what you read into practice is the key my friend. This is the only way you can test to see what works for you and what doesn’t. There is a lot of information online and some of it will work for you and some of it won’t.

      I’m pleased to hear that this post was useful and insightful for you. Jaaxy is a great product and can be a great help when it comes to mastering keyword research.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s much appreciated.

      Mark

      Reply
  13. Joshua Steinke

    This article outlined everything I needed to know about keyword research and you mentioned into detail the truth about SEO.
    I’m still learning more about website development and your article was great.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hey Joshua

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment to let me know the post was useful. I’m always pleased when I can help fellow bloggers get better at what they do.

      Look forward to seeing you around here again soon.

      Mark

      Reply
  14. Ola

    These are lovely tips on how to master keyword searches. I have always checked on your website on a daily basis ever since I  found useful information on your site some time ago. This is another eye opener for me and I must commend you for putting this lovely post together.

    The highlighted tips are helpful and informative.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hello Ola 

      What a lovely comment – thank you!

      I’m, really pleased to hear that the information I’m providing on this blog is useful and helpful. Hopefully I will be able to write a lot more that will be useful for you in the future too. 

      Mark

      Reply
  15. Anthony Hu

    Dear Mark,

    Thanks for the informative article. It is very useful for my keyword hunting for my future articles.

    The free keyword research tool, Soovle, interests me. I used the free Jaxxy for a while. Compared to Jaxxy, how is Soovle? 

    I went to Soovle, ,which looks like Google. Is it possible to obtain QSR etc from Soovle?

    It is nice that you provide clear guidance on the keyword search: > 100 searches, QSR < 50, and SEO score > 90. I keep for my references.

    Kind regards

    Anthony

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Anthony 

      Thank you for reading my post and leaving a comment.

      Soovle is a good tool to look for longtail keyword ideas, but it does not provide data about the keywords. For this you’re far better to use a tool like Jaaxy. It definitely does not give you QSR. 

      It’s good to get other ideas from tools like Ubersuggest and Soovle but I would still use a tool like Jaaxy to check the numbers. You may find another post I wrote helpful too – How  to Research for Long Tail Keywords that  get Your Posts Found.

      Mark

      Reply

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