Audio Version [click the globe to change language]
Knowing how to do keyword research can be the difference between getting tons of traffic or watching your blog dry up.
In this guide, I’m going to tell you all you need to know to get started when it comes to doing keyword research for a blog post.
Let’s start with the basics.
- 0.1 Why do you need to do keyword research in the first place?
- 0.2 Which keyword tools are best?
- 0.3 Google Keyword Planner: FREE
- 0.4 How to do keyword research with the Google Adwords Planner
- 0.5 Google Trends: FREE
- 0.6 Keyword and topic research using Google Trends
- 1 Some keyword research tips
Why do you need to do keyword research in the first place?
Keyword research can be tedious. If you’re a blogger or a content marketer, it would be much nicer to be able to just sit down and start pounding the keyword to see what comes out, without having to spend time planning (hey, I’m with you on that one!)
But here’s the reason why you need to spend some time on keyword research:
You want your content to be read, therefore you need to write content for which there is a demand and keyword research is the way you discover whether there is a demand for your chosen topic.
Make sense so far? Cool.
Now let me throw in a bit of a spanner in the works:
Note that I said keyword research lets you see whether there is a demand. It does not let you see how much of a demand there is.
This is crucial information. Many keyword tools and certainly almost everybody talking about or teaching keyword research presents keyword tools as a way to discover search volume (i.e. how many people are searching for a keyword).
This is simply false.
Google doesn’t make search volume data available. That means that every keyword tool – and most people teaching keyword research – are either lying or deluded.
That’s a strong statement, I realise, but it’s true nonetheless. It took me over a decade to conclude this, having been doing SEO for the best part of that decade, both for my own websites and for paying clients.
I’ve also used many industry leading keyword tools along the years, always looking to get an edge. Alas, I’ve ranked for search terms that promised huge traffic and got next to no visits, many times.
Today, I don’t use any keyword tools. I will at some point out together a small training course to explain exactly how I do what I do, without paying a cent.
So, here’s the takeaway when it comes to keyword tools: the traffic volumes you see are estimates.
To be fair, most if not all keyword tools make this clear, but people still take those numbers as if they were ‘real’. They are often far from that.
What the keyword tool does let you see however, is whether there is any search demand for a search term. If it’s registering in the tool, that means there are people searching. We just don’t know how many people are searching.
Ok, with that out of the way, let’s continue.
This blog post you’re reading right now is about how to do keyword research for a blog post and includes some keyword research tips.
Before I started writing this content, I needed to know whether there is any search demand for this topic.
So, I needed to do some keyword research. That would show me whether there is a demand there is for this particular topic. If there’s demand for it and I think the topic is valuable, then it’s probably worth writing about.
Before I can research a keyword, I need to understand 2 things:
- what is a keyword?
- how do I research a keyword?
So here goes…
A keyword is the word or phrase that you want your article to be found for in the search engine results. In theory, the keyword is the key word in your topic.
So if you were an SEO (search engine optimizer) and you had a website promoting your services, the key word that you would ideally like to be found for may be SEO London (or whatever area you intend to serve).
If there are multiple words in your ideal keyword, it can still be kown as a keyword, or a keyphrase.
- SEO = keyword
- SEO in London = keyword (or keyphrase)
So think of a keyword as single words or phrases that you want to ‘target’.
The words keyword and keyphrase are often used interchangeably. Use whichever one you prefer.
Ok, so that’s that.Understanding keyword research is one of the most important things you can learn as a blogger or website owner.Click To Tweet
So my keyword (or keyphrase) for this article then is how to do keyword research for a blog post.
My next move is to do some research to find out whether there are people searching for that phrase. If there are, then it may be worth writing about.
But if there are people searching for that keyword, then it means there’s a demand for that topic, and you just said…
Yes, in theory we have a potential topic to write about. But now we need to consider a new variable: competition.
The second part of the process is to determine how competitive it is to rank for our ideal keyword. Because if it’s too competitive, then we may not be able to rank, and that means nobody gets to read our awesome blog post.
So here’s what the process looks like so far…
- come up with an idea for a topic
- determine what the keyword is – the word that you think people looking for the topic may search for in a search engine like Google
- part 1: do some keyword research to verify whether there are indeed people searching for that keyword (or keyphrase)
- part 2: use that keyword research to gauge how much competition there is for the keyword or keyphrase and determine whether we have a chance to rank for the keyword
Don’t despair at this point, especially if you suspect that all the keywords in the world have already been taken and you’re too late to the game, because I will give you some keyword research tips to help you improve your chances of ranking.
So now that we know what a keyword is and we understand the concept of research, we need to know how to do keyword research.
For the research part, we’ll be using tools (just because it’s easier that way). Watch the video below to see how this part works:Keyword research can make or break your success when it comes to getting traffic.Click To Tweet
Now that we’re clear on the whole keyword thing, let’s dig into some tools!
Which keyword tools are best?
That’s a good question. The fact is that there are hundreds – if not thousands – of keyword research tools, and they’re all the best if you read their sales pages, can you believe that?
As I said before, I don’t use keyword tools these days to discover keywords, but I do rely on various tools to do competitive analysis (how competitive a keyword is).
Here are more keyword tools you can use for free:
Google Keyword Planner: FREE
Now, here’s the caveat: this tool was built for PPC advertisers. That said, if you’re on a tight budget, you can still use it to get a rough idea of whether your keyword has search volume (i.e. whether people are searching for that keyword). Just remember not to focus on the numbers.
How to do keyword research with the Google Adwords Planner
Google Trends: FREE
Another great tool you can use, although it’s not strictly a keyword research tool per se, is Google Trends. This can help you determine whether the topic you’re researching is trending upwards or downwards.
Google Trends is a great tool to use in many research scenarios, and it’s pretty addictive too, so watch out for that.
Keyword and topic research using Google Trends
Some keyword research tips
OK, at this point you know:
- what a keyword is
- what keyword research is for and why it’s needed
- some of the tools you can use to research keywords and topics
Now, to round up all that knowledge, let’s get into some keyword research tips to get the edge on this game!
Keyword research tips from Google: how to find the right keywords
Keyword research tips from Google: how to find the right keywords (another angle)
Let me introduce here what is known as the Longtail. Take a look at this:
- SEO = keyword
- SEO in London = longer keyphrase
- SEO for dentists in London = longtail keyword
Longtail is the name given to a longer search phrase.
So why target longtail keywords?
Typically, those longer search phrases don’t get as much traffic as the shorter keyphrases, but they are easier to rank for because they generally have less competition. The idea is that if you rank for multiple longtails, you get to rank quicker and bring some traffic to your website sooner.
So longtail keywords are less competitive, thus easier to rank for.
Take a look at this:
- SEO = very competitive keyword, very hard to rank for (out of the question for most websites)
- SEO in London = less competitive, but still pretty hard to rank for
- SEO for dentists in London = much less competitive and very focused on one target (i.e. dentists who are looking for SEO services)
Let me demonstrate what this actually looks like:
Keyword research for the word SEO (very competitive)
Keyword research for the word SEO for Dentists (less competitive)
Longtail Keyword research example (much less competitive)
That’s how and why you go after longtail keywords. If and when there is too much competition around a keyword, you can (and must) start to get really focused on who your ideal reader is. And that means using more words, which in turn removes some of the competition.If you're starting out with a new website or a new blog and you don't have any backlinks, then targeting longtail keywords is the way to go.Click To Tweet
Keyword research can seem complicated because there are a lot of pieces to it. But common sense will guide you. The basis is quite simple:
- if you want to ‘reach’ people you have to write about something they are searching for
- decide what the topic is
- do some research to see if people are searching for that topic
- gauge how competitive the search engine results are
- focus on (longtail) on a particular aspect (or subtopic) of the topic that still holds interest for enough people
The thing to keep in mind is that keyword tools do not show traffic volume. Instead, they estimate search volume. Try half a dozen keyword tools and you’ll get half a dozen different results when it comes to search volume.
Remember: the best you can do is find out if there is any search volume registered for a given keyword, and then consider whether people are likely to be searching for that keyword or keyphrase. If they are, then move on to competitive analysis to try to determine how competitive that keyword may be. And remember you can use Google Trends to check whether your chosen keyword is trending.