One of the biggest pains in the butt thrown at us bloggers in the last few years is Google’s decision to stop releasing search phrase information – the dreaded “keywords not provided” that you see coming up in your analytics.
But just because you can’t see all the keywords people are using to find your posts does NOT mean that keyword research is irrelevant. You still need to research website keywords that people in your niche will be using to find you.
So – in case you’re wondering what keywords are, these are the words and phrases that people use to find things in the search engine. When you go to Google or Bing and type in “easy chicken recipes” – that’s a keyword. Want to know more? Click here for more in-depth info on keywords.
So, how do you research website keywords for your blog?
Knowing your target market (as we discussed in part one) will definitely be a big help in coming up with the keywords that will help your audience find you.
Your first step is to think about your niche and write down as many keywords and phrases as you can think of, just as quickly as you can. Just write for 5 or 10 minutes, and see what kind of ideas you can come up with – even if some of your ideas seem a little out of left field, write them down! This will be your starting point.
Google Search & Google AdWords
Once you’ve got your first list together, your next step will be to do Google searches with those phrases and see what you find. As you do, you’ll probably find some more keyword ideas based on the results you get; on the other hand, you may be able to toss out some of your earlier choices.
Open a Google Adwords account and use the keyword planner tool to help you narrow down your keywords and phrases. There are other free tools you can use for keyword discovery, but I find that most of the time, the Google tool works just fine for helping me narrow down the information I’m looking for. Even if you prefer another tool, facts are the vast majority of internet searches are through Google, so it only makes sense to use the tools they provide you.
Update: Google has recently (October 2016) changed the way they work. You can’t get decent info from them unless you actually pay for an AdWords campaign, which is a darned shame. Because of this, I really recommend using one of the paid keyword tools.
Paid Keyword Research Tools
Using a paid keyword tool can be a really great way to discover even more excellent keywords – and often, much faster than you can do it manually. If you’re really focusing on SEO or plan on running ads, a paid keyword tool is a very wise investment.
You can learn more about these tools by visiting their websites (some of these are affiliate links):
- KeywordDiscovery.com (has free version)
- Jaaxy (My favorite – this is what I use now)
- SEMRush.com (popular choice, starts at $69/month)
SEMRush is a highly recommended tool. It goes far beyond simple keyword research.
- Google Keyword Planner (Forget about this – the info you can get now is next to useless)
- Market Samurai (free trial, full program is $149 one time)
Another highly recommended tool – like SEMRush, it does much more than simple keyword research. Not super intuitive, it does have a learning curve, but it’s very powerful.
- UberSuggest (Free tool, not a keyword research tool but great for getting long-tail keyword ideas to use in your research)
Social media can help you verify the value of some of your keywords. Do searches on social media with the keywords you’ve come up with and see what kind of results you get. For example, see how popular your keywords are as #hashtags on Twitter. Learn as much as you can about your target audience, their habits and their problems – it will help you write blog posts that they want to read and will also help you know what products and services they’re interested in.
Now, I’m not saying to go scrape keywords from your competitors’ sites – but you should look at your competition and learn from the keywords they use and how they market to your niche. Figure out what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong – and what YOU can do better so that you stand out.
Several of the paid products mentioned above allow you to take a really close look at what your competitors are doing.
Determine Keyword Competitiveness
Now, it’s important your keywords have –
1 – Lots of people searching for them
2 – Not a lot of results in the search engine.
Those popular, low-competition keywords are the Holy Grail of niche marketing! But it’s also important to throw in the other keywords that may have a lot more competition. The low competition phrases will help you be found in search, but Google will like to see lots of different related keywords sprinkled through your text.
You also want a combination of long tail and short tail – for example, in this article I have short tail keywords like keyword, keyword research, keyword tools; but I’m also making sure to use longer tail phrases like paid keyword tools, keyword planner tool, and how do you research keywords.
Use everything that’s available to you – Google search, forums, industry news, online magazines, PR newswire, blogs and more – to find the topics that are popular for your audience. For instance, you can go to forums where your audience likes to hang out and look for the questions being asked or common problems people have. Providing those answers and solutions will be the basis of your blog posts and the products that you promote.
But remember – all the keyword tools and research in the world won’t make any difference if you don’t take action!
PS: If you’re having a tough time with keywords, I absolutely recommend the Buyer Keyword Package from Pajama Affiliates. Keywords are the most important part of your blog post content. You can have a great keyword with all the traffic and seo numbers perfect but if its not targeted at a reader looking to buy, it’s probably not going to make much money.