Optimal Blog Keyword Research for SEO

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Welcome to your weekly Modest Modest blogging tips post! Be warned, it’s a lengthy tip today.

In case you haven’t been following along, here are some topics covered in previous blogging tips posts:

After several requests, I have decided to show how I perform basic keyword research, specifically for blog posts. Like any good SEO professional, I feel that this really is one of my specialties. The best search engine optimization won’t help you much without solid keyword research.

I actually offer keyword research services on a contract basis through one of my websites and via this blog. After reading this post you should be able to manage on your own though. If you need additional help, feel free to contact me for a price quote.

Which Keyword Research Tool Should You Use?

Over the years I’ve tried a wide variety of keyword tools, both free and paid. Some of the better paid tools include Market Samurai and WordTracker.

For most purposes though, I stick with the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Not only is it free, but it also provides more keywords and more reliable stats compared to most of the paid tools. Since Google is everyone’s main search engine traffic target, it only makes sense to trust their stats.

The thing to keep in mind is that you should be most interested in stats relative to other keywords and not exact numbers. Even if you get to the #1 spot on Google, you won’t get 100% of the clicks.

Optimizing Google AdWords Keyword Tool Settings

While the Google Keyword Tool is very simple to use, they do make it easier to find a ton of keywords than it is to find the best keywords. Obviously they want advertisers to be bidding on as many keywords as possible.

Here are some settings you will likely want to change before searching for keywords:

Google AdWords Keyword Research

1) Switch to Exact Match: By default the tool is set to ‘Broad’ match which will group together the stats for every phrase that includes the base word. So if you’re searching for ‘dog’, it would group together stats for keywords such as bull dog, hot dog, dog sweaters, dog fish, etc. While this may be useful for choosing a domain name or choosing keywords for a post series, it is not very useful when choosing keywords for a single page. So switch to ‘Exact’ match for more precise stats. Or if you are positive about the order of the keywords, choose ‘Phrase’ match.

2) Only Show Closely Related Keywords: If you leave this option unchecked it will bring up a ton of keywords that are somehow related to each individual word in your search. Most of the time this is just far too much to wade through. I’d only leave this unchecked if I had no idea about synonyms or related lingo. So if you know at least the main possible base keywords, turn on this option.

3) Set Target Countries: Your setting for this option will depend on what are you are targeting with your blog. Sometimes you might just be targeting the US or Canada exclusively, but most posts are probably relevant to a worldwide audience. So set this to ‘All Countries’ unless you only want to target a certain country.

Searching For Keywords For Your Blog Post

Now that the settings are all optimized, type all possible base keywords in the ‘Word or phrase’ field, putting one keyword phrase on each line.

With doing research for this particular post I knew I wanted to include ‘blog’ and ‘keyword’ in my main target keyword phrase. I entered blog keyword and blog keywords as my base keywords. Really I should’ve been able to just use ‘blog keyword’ in my search, but then it doesn’t bring up other suggestions for whatever reason.

Usually it is not that simple though. More likely you will have several base keywords using various different synonyms. For example, if you did a post about buying a car, you might instead search for car shopping, buying a car, purchasing a car, purchase a car, etc. With the phrase match, it would be better to change ‘buying a car’ to just ‘buy car’. Then it would bring up all variations.

If in doubt, do some searches on Google for some possible keywords. Pay attention to which keywords those pages are also targeting in their meta keywords or tags.

Understanding The Keyword Research Tool Stats

I won’t get into all the stats offered through this tool, but there are specific columns you should pay attention when doing blog keyword research.

  • Global Monthly Searches: This will give you a rough idea of how many people search for each keyword per month. If you are targeting a certain area, look at the local searches instead.
  • Approximate CPC: If you have AdSense ads on your blog, this column may be especially important to you. That is not the price per click you’d receive, but it does give you an idea of which keywords should give you high click prices. It often also reflects how competitive the organic rankings are likely to be.
  • Competition: Don’t confuse this column with organic rankings competition. This column actually refers to how many advertisers are bidding on a keyword. Just like the CPC, this may give signs of the organic competition too, but not always.

Finally…Choosing Your Blog Post Keywords

This is the tricky part of the process. You don’t want to simply choose the keywords with the highest search volume. The higher the search volume, usually the more competitive it is.

Unless you have a well established blog with tons of links, you aren’t likely to rank well for such a keyword. If your blog is super new, realistically you probably won’t even rank well for a keyword with moderate search volume. Personally, the newer the blog and the less links it has, the lower the search volume you should be looking at targeting.

Most importantly, the target keyword needs to be highly relevant. If you target a keyword that isn’t relevant enough to your post content, people will just leave right away which may ultimately hurt your rankings.

It is usually a good idea to target a long tail keyword phrase, which is a phrase that is at least 3 or 4 keywords long. Ideally that phrase overlaps some higher volume keywords. That way your post has more long term potential if it becomes popular.

This should give you all a good basis for choosing keywords to target in your blog posts. Sometime next month I will discuss some more advanced strategies such as analyzing organic results to find market weaknesses. Do remember that good keywords alone won’t drive lots of traffic. It does primarily come down to how strong your blog’s link profile is.

Do you actively research keywords for your blog posts? Or are you like me and holding off until your blog has more SEO strength? Or maybe you only optimize more important posts?

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