We’ve all been there.
You put the finishing touches on that blog post that you spent hours laboring over.
You’re excited for the world to see your work.
You hit the Publish button and wait for the traffic to roll in!
The anticipation builds….
But, lo and behold…it flops.
The thousands of views you were expecting turned out to be a measly three people. Your overly supportive uncle, Dave from accounts, and a bot who leaves yet another spammy message in the Comments.
That blog post you put hours of blood, sweat, and tears into creating needs to be seen, and more to the point, seen by the people you intended it for – the people who will get the most value from it.
The likely reason your blog flopped…you didn’t do keyword research for SEO on your blog topic.
As the number of pages on the Internet expands, your chances of being discovered shrink. You need to find a way for your blog to stand out in search results and attract new readers.
Fear not! Here are tips, tricks, and tools to draw more readers to your blog posts and to get your topics pushed up in Google search ranking.
Start with Research
The blogging process starts long before you put ‘pen to paper’.
Research and planning for your blog topic is always the number one task to undertake. Without research, you are effectively taking a stab in the dark and making assumptions about how the content will perform best with your target audience.
The planning phase of the blog writing process can make or break your SEO. In fact, without it, you are setting yourself up for failure.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Every time you start a blog, there are two things to define: your audience, and how you can help them.
Start here with keyword research for SEO related to your topic.
How to Do Keyword Research For Your Blog
Defining and Understanding Your Blog Audience
How will your audience find your blog post?
According to research, approximately 68% of all online interactions begin with a search engine. Chances are, those who find your blog do so through a search engine.
Google, the largest search engine, processes 63,000 searches every second.
Who is Your Target Audience?
To get your blog in front of searchers’ eyes, you need to have a deep understanding of your target audience. Not only does this help your keyword research effort, it also helps you structure your writing to appeal to these people.
If you’re writing a blog with a predominantly experienced technical audience, you can use industry-specific terms and language; jargon that you know they’re familiar with.
On the other hand, if your audience are beginners or amateurs, be sure to use simple language and terms that effectively illustrates your point to not confuse your readers.
Why are they searching? What are they searching for?
Once you define your audience, step into their shoes to begin to understand why they are searching for your topic.
Perhaps they are looking for reviews of a particular product. Or maybe a checklist for completing a task?
Understanding why your audience is searching helps you determine what they are searching for.
What words and phrases will your audience put in the Google search bar?
When it comes to search engines, understanding user intent is super important and helps you focus your content on answering user’s questions. For example, Google rewards pages that take search intent into account by providing relevant answers to queries.
Now that your target audience is defined and you have an understanding about their online habits, you can begin your keyword research for SEO on your blog. It’s important to understand what a keyword is, the different types of keywords, and how you can use them for your research.
What is a Keyword?
A keyword is a term that describes the content on your web page. Similarly, a keyword can also be a word or phrase used by an internet user who is using a search engine to find content online.
Although the name suggests a keyword relates to a single word, it’s often a group of words or a phrase.
So, while “SEO” is a keyword, so too is “SEO to rank on the first page of Google.”
Keep this in mind: your blog keyword is the search term you’re aiming for in Google search ranking.
To complicate things a little more, there are 9 different types of keywords that I provide a brief definition for below.
What are the Different Types of Keywords?
When performing keyword research for SEO, you won’t reference all of these keyword types, but it’s important to have an understanding of each.
Here are the nine different keyword forms:
A short tail, or head, keyword is a broad search term with a high volume of search traffic. It’s short, as the name suggests, usually one or two words that are very competitive to obtain ranking for, such as ‘social media‘.
Long-tail keywords are specific words or phrases targeted at search terms. They usually have lower search ranking and less competition, which makes them easier to obtain ranking for, such as ‘social media manager for a health and fitness business’.
A short-term keyword is a keyword you target for a short period of time while a topic is trending. Short-term keywords tend to be successful for as long as the hype is around, and quickly die off once it passes, such as ‘fidget spinner tricks’.
Long-term keywords, also known as evergreen keywords, are consistently relevant to searches and are not subject to short-term hype, such as ‘search engine optimization’.
Product-defining keywords are detailed and describe the product or service you are selling, such as ‘diamond encrusted red Gucci handbag’.
As the name suggests, a customer-defining keyword plays on using the persona of your target audience, for example: ‘running shoes for pregnant women’.
A geo-targeting keyword allows you to target an area, like where your business operates and target people based on their location, for example: ‘search engine optimization services in Nebraska’.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) or Related Keywords
Latent Semantic Indexing refers to keywords that are closely related to your main keyword. For example, a related keyword for ‘coffee’ could be ‘ethiopian coffee’ or ‘best coffee’.
Using intent targeting involves selecting keywords that are related to your user’s search intent. Intent targeting keywords fall into these three categories:
Used when searchers are looking for information, like ‘how to do SEO for my blog’ or ‘what is a keyword’.
Used when searchers are looking for product information before making a purchase, such as ‘nike running shoes features’.
Used when a searcher is looking to find the best deal or find the best quality product, such as ‘best quality bluetooth speaker’.
When to Use Short-Tail Keywords?
As mentioned earlier, a short-tail (or head) keyword is a search term about 1 to 3 words long.
Many users inexperienced with SEO tend to use short-tail keywords in their blog posts because they are the most obvious words to come to mind when they think about how their users search.
Sure..it seems to make sense. The volume of searches for short-tail keywords is massive.
Similarly, the competition for these keywords is also high, which makes them extremely difficult to bump up the rankings. On top of that, they are extremely broad and generic, meaning that the click-through rate (CTR) will be poor as you cannot easily match the user’s search intent.
Short-tail keywords should be part of your overall website keyword strategy, and you should use them throughout your website to give Google the main topic of your site content.
However, instead of focusing on short-tail keywords for your blog post, invest time into developing long-tail keywords related to the short-tail keyword.
Better to Use Long-Tail Keywords
A more fitting name for a long-tail keyword could be a long tail phrase. That is to say that a long-tail keyword is multiple words.
Ordinarily, a long-tail keyword comprises more than three words. As a result, these keywords tend to be more specific than their short-tail counterparts.
For example, the short-tail keyword ‘water’ presents much different search results than the long-tail keyword ‘health benefits of drinking water’.
Long-tail keywords don’t generate as many Google results as short-tail keywords, but they have a much higher CTR as they are more specific.
The biggest benefit of long tail keywords is lower competition. Your content will rank higher in search results for those terms.
Now that you understand what a keyword is, the different types of keywords, and the difference between a short-tail and long-tail keyword, let’s move on to actually doing keyword research for your blog topic.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of performing an analysis of current search data to determine the keyword or keyphrase you want to promote in search engines rankings.
Sure…that sounds complicated, but I’ve broken it down and simplified it to allow you to be effective at selecting keywords.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
When you skip the keyword research stage, you inevitably base your topic keywords on your own assumptions.
Keyword research gives you insights into your audience and the search terms they use on Google and in other search engines.
Let’s say you’re a tech company who creates software for gym owners. If you’re potential audience is searching for ‘gym software’ but you are optimizing for the term ‘fitness software’, you’ll miss a large portion of your target audience.
This is why keyword research is so important. For success, optimize for the words your target audience is using.
The Basic Metrics of Keyword Research
When performing your research to find the right keywords for your blog topic, there are numerous metrics to take into account.
You must ensure that your keyphrases set you up for the best chance of success and make your search engine ranking that much easier!
With that in mind, it’s important that you have an understanding of these basic metrics before you start your keyword research for SEO on your blog:
Search Volume relates to the average or expected number of monthly searches for your keyword or keyphrase. The search volume is an indicator for assessing the potential search traffic that can be generated over time.
You don’t want this figure to be too low as there won’t be enough potential to appear in searches. Conversely, you don’t want it to be too high as the competition will likely also be high.
Search Difficulty/SEO Difficulty
Search Difficulty helps you understand how hard it will be to increase the ranking of your keyword or keyphrase in organic searches. The higher this number is, the more competition you will face, and the tougher it will be to increase your blog post ranking.
Ubersuggest and other SEO tools provide useful analyses on keyword Search Difficulty on a scale of 0 to 100. I’ll talk more about this later…
Search Competition is similar to Search Difficulty, but relates to the competition for paid search ads based on the keyword.
Picking the Right Keywords: What Makes a Good Keyword?
The natural tendency amongst new comers to SEO is to shoot for short-tail keywords.
The thought pattern is describing the main topic for their blog.
For illustration, let’s say the main topic of their blog is dieting so they use ‘dieting’ as their keyword.
Inevitably, they’ll have no success as the term is far too broad and the competition will eat them up (pun intended!).
In this case, the dieting blog can utilize the word ‘dieting’ as its seed keyword – as the foundation for other keywords.
‘Dieting’ is the main topic that spans across posts on their site, so they use it throughout the site to allow Google to determine the overarching theme of the website.
But, when it comes to individual blog posts, they must come up with a database of related long-tail keywords and LSI keywords related to dieting.
If a user searches for ‘dieting’ in Google, this dieting blog will not make the rankings to list on the first page. Of course, the keyword ‘dieting’ generates a lot of search traffic, but it’s far more competitive and has no clear intent.
This dieting blog can use long-tail keywords to attempt to increase ranking for a simpler term, such as ‘benefits of intermittent fasting for men’.
This stresses that you must strategically select keywords.
Choose long-tail keywords with a low Search Difficulty, low Search Competition, and low-to-moderate Search Volume. This ensures that your blog post has the best chance at appearing on the first page in search results.
Over time, as your website traffic and domain authority increase, your chances at ranking with more difficult keyphrases becomes greater. For now, keep it simple and start generating traffic using low Search Competition keywords.
How to Optimize Your Blog for Your Keyword
Now that you have your long-tail keyword, it’s time to create your blog and optimize it so that it ranks high in search results for your selected keyphrase.
Before we begin, it’s important to remember that keywords are just one factor when it comes to successful SEO for your blog. Your main focus is always on providing valuable content your readers enjoy.
Google and other search engines look for many other factors within their algorithms when determining whether to show your post in results.
It’s important to always keep your user’s search intent in mind. Effectively answer their questions in a helpful manner and Google will reward you.
Be sure to use your target keyword throughout your article wherever it sounds and fits naturally.
As a general rule, include the keyword in;
- your page title
- your headings
- the opening paragraph
- your paragraphs
- the meta description
- all image alt tags; and
- your URL slug.
Also incorporate related keywords (LSI keywords) and alternate terms throughout your writing to strengthen your authority.
Here’s a hot tip: If you’re using the WordPress platform, the Yoast SEO plugin, provides an easy-to-use interface to ensure that your post is properly optimized for your keyword. Yoast SEO provides an easy-to-follow overview of how to use the tool here.
Don’t Force It: Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the practice of “loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results”.
In the early years of search engines, keyword stuffing was used regularly to obtain high ranking in search results. This resulted in a poor user experience and was soon dealt with to enable a better online user experience.
Today, the practice is well policed by Google and results in your pages being penalized in their search results.
It’s way better to focus on providing informative, useful content that appropriately uses your keyword in the right context.
There is no set rule when it comes to how often you use your keyword. A good guideline is to aim for 2-5% keyword density, spread evenly throughout your post.
Useful SEO Tools for Keyword Research
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool provided on the Google Ads platform. The tool was built for PPC advertising campaigns, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful for organic-search insight.
This tool allows you to analyze and find new keywords, and see historical and forecasted search volumes for your keywords. It also provides an overview of how competitive each keyword is, albeit from an advertisers perspective.
The tool also shows ‘top of page bid’ columns, demonstrating how much advertisers are bidding for keyword clicks. If this number is high, it shows a strong commercial search intent.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer allows you to take a deep-dive into keyword ideas and analyze how difficult they are to rank for. The tool is feature-rich and brands itself as the “most complete keyword research tool on the market”.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer displays keyword ranking difficulty, search volume, provides keyword ideas, and has many advanced metrics.
The only downside? There is no free version of the tool available.
This is one of my favorite tools for keyword and SEO research and analysis. And with SEO-guru Neil Patel behind the scenes, it’s easy to see why the free SEO tool is so useful.
Ubersuggest allows you to analyze your domain, as well as your competitors’, to see an overview of top-performing pages.
With Ubersuggest, you can explore keyword suggestions, backlink data, content ideas, and monthly search volumes.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the SEO difficulty analyzer, which gives a difficulty score of 0-100 organic ranking for your keyword.
SEMrush provides a SaaS solution. Among their services are many tools for SEO and keyword research.
My favorite feature in SEMrush is the Keyword Magic Tool, which gives you an endless list of keyword ideas based on your seed keyword.
Each keyword is broken down under different headings, such as search volume, keyword difficulty, competitive density, SERP features, and cost-per-click data.
They offer free as well as paid plans, and cater for everyone from beginner to expert.
This tool is fun to use and plays on a very interesting design (don’t be alarmed when you see a bald man staring at you through your screen urging you to “come on!”).
With AnswerThePublic, you simply enter your seed keyword and the tool generates suggestions grouped into questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals, and related.
This tool is highly useful in the beginning stages of your keyword research for coming up with multiple variations of search terms to research with the other listed tools.
Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule helps you to write better headlines for your blog posts.
The tool analyzes your headline and gives it a score between 0-100 based on factors such as the words used and the headline length.
This tool allows you to create catchy headlines that resonate with searchers and drive more traffic to your blog posts.
Moz Keyword Explorer
Similar to the other keyword research tools, Moz Keyword Explorer analyzes your keyword based on many factors.
The tool provides keyword suggestions, shows monthly search volume, and estimates the keyword difficulty.
Unlike other free tools, it also provides an estimate of the percentage of organic clicks available for the keyword.
If you’re running a WordPress website, install the YoastSEO plugin! Yoast takes the complication out of SEO and makes it accessible to everyone.
The tool guides your content creation and gives suggestions for optimizing your content for your keyword or keyphrase.
Not only does Yoast analyze the content for your keyword, it also performs readability checks on your content. The tool utilizes scientific research to look through the text and provides feedback based on the Flesch Reading Ease score.
And these are only two of the features. There’s a lot more to explore within the tool!
Now, It’s Time to Rank Your Blog in Google!
Now that you’ve got a brief overview of keyword research for your blog, let’s put everything into practice.
Remember, you want to make ranking on the search pages as easy as possible, through efficient keyword research and using long-tail keywords.
Never assume – always have a clear plan for the keyphrases you want your blog to have a high ranking for.
To make your journey even easier, check out the tools described above. Don’t forget! This is not a comprehensive list.
There are many SEO tools to help you gain success. Research and find the right tools for you.
If you’re already using SEO tools not mentioned in this post, please share them in the comments.
Now…go forth and conquer keyword research for SEO on your blog!
Make sure to check out more of our helpful blog posts on the Docforce Blog!