The best keywords for a blog are not always obvious and keyword research can uncover easy ranking opportunities
Getting blog visitors from Google is all about the keywords in your posts. Think about it. The way Google shows your blog pages is by understanding the topics and ideas for which the post relates so it can show it to searchers.
So you look for a few good keywords with lots of search traffic and write posts around them…
And all you hear are crickets! Your blog traffic barely budges and your post appears somewhere on the 5th page of Google.
There is so much to keywords that bloggers don’t understand.
Finding the best keywords for a blog means not only knowing which have lots of searches but also the ones that you can actually rank and the ones with the RIGHT kind of traffic.
Effective keyword research is a must for any blogger that wants to find the easiest opportunities to grow traffic and make more money!
What is Keyword Research?
Let’s start with a truth that most bloggers miss, Google ranks pages not blogs.
Do a Google search and what do you see? Almost all the results are pages or posts, not the homepage of a site. I’d also be willing to guess that your top sources of search traffic to your blog are individual pages rather than your homepage.
Keyword research is about finding the best way to rank individual posts and pages to get the most traffic possible.
A keyword is anything someone is going to type into the Google search bar. It could be a single word, a sentence or a jumble of words. If Google sees that your post relates to that keyword and does a good job of satisfying the search, then it will rank that post somewhere on the page.
Keyword research is about finding those keywords that you can get on the first page of Google results and that bring traffic that will accomplish a goal, whether it’s to make money or get subscribers.
Why Do You Need to Do Keyword Research?
Why do you need to do keyword research…because randomly writing blog posts won’t increase your traffic.
There are too many professional bloggers to be a successful amateur. There are enough bloggers that are doing keyword research, boosting their posts with SEO and using a blog strategy that, if you’re not doing these things, your blog is just going to sit there unread.
Even basic keyword research, or what passes for it by most blogger standards, isn’t enough. Finding keywords with a lot of monthly searches doesn’t work because everyone is trying to target those words.
Good keyword research is about finding keywords with good traffic potential but also the ones for which you can realistically rank…and make money. Keyword research will also help you get the traffic that counts, the readers ready to buy something rather than visitors just window-shopping and reading posts.
Biggest Keyword Research Mistakes All Bloggers Make
Most bloggers agree that they need to do some keyword research. Unfortunately, good keyword research is a lot more complicated than you may realize. In fact, most keyword research is just wasted time because of the mistakes made.
- Focusing only on traffic volume is the biggest keyword mistake. Bloggers look in the Keyword Planner for keywords with millions of monthly searches. Your shot at ranking on the first page for these is zero, nil and nada unless you’re writing for Forbes or The Huffington Post.
- Thinking competition score equals ranking difficulty. The Google Keyword Planner tool has a column called “competition score” that is completely confusing and badly interpreted. This isn’t the difficulty of ranking a keyword but the relative number of people bidding on that keyword in Google Ads. This score won’t help you find keywords for which you can rank.
- Not being realistic with what you can rank is related to the traffic volume mistake. Good keyword research means understanding how many links and the page authority you need to rank a post on the first page of Google. Ignoring this means you could be wasting your time writing a post nobody will ever find.
- Not focusing on search intent. All decisions go through a process where the reader becomes aware of a problem, starts to understand a solution and then finally makes the decision. Getting thousands of visitors from people that are just becoming aware of a problem could be worthless traffic because they aren’t yet ready to make a decision. Good keyword research will not only help you rank for keywords but it will uncover keywords people use when they are ready to make a decision!
How to Do Keyword Research the Right Way
I’m going to share some of my favorite resources for keyword research as well as some tips for finding the easiest keywords for which to rank.
Some of my favorite keyword research resources include:
- Google Keyword Planner is still useful but only for brainstorming ideas. The site limits the information you see if you aren’t using Adwords actively.
- Google Adwords is a great resource. You can create an ad and use a URL that is ranking on Google for your topic to get keyword suggestions from Adwords.
- Google search itself is a good place to start getting keyword ideas. Start typing in your ideas and Google will suggest keywords for which people search. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll also see more suggestions from frequent searches.
- Wikipedia and Reddit can be goldmines of keyword ideas. On Wikipedia, look for clickable words within a topic for ideas on information important to the broader topic. On Reddit, look for frequent questions people have and how many replies they elicit.
- Ahrefs is another excellent resource for keyword research. It will show you the keywords for which you currently rank as well as the ones ranked by other blogs. It also estimates a keyword difficulty or about how many links you need to rank a post for that keyword. Monthly price ranges from $99 to $999 but it’s a must-have subscription if you’re actively running SEO campaigns.
One of my favorite keyword research ideas is to stalk around on other blogs. Most blogs will highlight their most popular posts. Since Google search traffic is usually the largest source of traffic for a blog, it’s a good bet that these posts are getting a lot of Google love.
Analyzing these popular posts can give you an idea of the keywords they’re using to get search traffic. It’s likely that their keywords are going to be in the title, the URL, H-tags or section headings and tagged on images.
Ahrefs gives you an easier way to do this but can get costly if you’re not using all the SEO features available. You can download a spreadsheet of the keywords for which a blog is ranking, including the estimated search volume for the keyword and a ranking difficulty score. I do this for blogs in my topic, then divide the search volume for each keyword by its ranking difficulty. It’s the best way to find keywords with high volume but that are also easy to get on the first page of Google.
You also want to spend some time doing keyword research for your best affiliate programs. Most bloggers only take their affiliate campaigns as far as writing a review of the product, targeting the [affiliate name] reviews keyword.
Everyone is doing this so how likely are you to actually rank that review?
Really ranking your affiliate posts to make huge money means finding the related keywords for which nobody else is targeting.
Another great keyword research tool is the MOZBar extension for Google Chrome. It’s a free add-on you can get when using Google Chrome and will tell you the page authority, domain authority and inbound links of search results.
Using the MOZBar is a great way to validate your keyword ideas before you waste your time writing. If all the posts on the first page of Google search have a page authority above 50 and lots of links, you’re probably not going to be able to rank a new post without some serious SEO strategy.
Good keyword research is one of the most often neglected processes that separate amateur bloggers from the professionals. Getting the Google love you deserve for your posts is about being strategic, targeting the easy keywords and getting the traffic that will make you money. Before you waste three hours or more writing a post, guarantee it’s success with keyword research.