Tackling Keywords with the Google Keyword Planner

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I’ve talked quite a bit about the importance of narrowing down your niche. I’ve been surprised lately to have some people tell me they think niches aren’t important – but I think those people are wrong. 😀

No matter who you are, whether you’re blogging for money or for the love of writing, you’re writing for a certain audience. It can be easier to think of a niche in that sense – instead of thinking “This is what my blog is about,” you think “This is the audience I want to reach.” If you aren’t sure about finding your niche, this article can help.

That audience could be long distance runners, it could be parents of special needs kids, it could be people that love romantic short stories.  And whoever that audience is, you need be certain that they can find you. And that’s where keywords come in.

Once you know what your niche is , you need to do some keyword research in order to get the word out about your site. Many beginning bloggers make the mistake of choosing their niche and then launching a website shortly after that with no thought to keyword research.

But once you grasp the benefits of well-chosen keywords, you’ll be more likely to take the time to research – you’ll understand the relationship between traffic and keywords. Proper keyword research will allow you to know which words get your target audience’s attention because those are the words they use themselves in a search engine.

So, what is a keyword exactly? Keywords are the words and phrases that people use to search. When you go to Google, you’ll type something in the search box like “how to knit a scarf” or “funny cat videos”. Those are keywords.

Keyword research will position your website or blog at the top of search engine results so that your site receives plenty of traffic. When you’re targeting keywords, even subtle things like choosing between the plural or singular form of a word can make a difference.

For instance if your niche is pet training then it’s important to know that the word ‘dog’ receives forty five million searches a month while the word ‘dogs’ receives only sixteen million.

Your goal is to select keywords that will garner you the most searches per words. What you’re looking for is something with little competition but a lot of searches. You can shell out money to pay for fancy keyword tools like Market Samurai to help you in your quest, but there are free alternative tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool where you still get the information you need to get the traffic you want.

Using the wrong keywords means you’re missing out on important traffic and missing out on the sales you could be making. You can use the wrong keywords and bring people to your site, but it’ll be those people who are not interested in what you’re selling. You want your keywords to be relevant to your audience.

When you build your site, you also want to make sure that you not only use keywords in your paragraphs, that you also use keywords in your titles and subheadings.

Remember the better you use SEO on your site, the higher it will rank when search engines display the results. One of the mistakes entrepreneurs make is naming their pages incorrectly in general.

Be specific. Don’t have an ‘About’ page. Going back to the earlier example about pet training, have an ‘About Pet Training’ page. When you put up a contact page or box, use a keyword phrase there as well, such as, “Contact me for more information on pet training.” This nets you additional keywords.

So how do you find the right keywords? As I mentioned above, I use the Google Keyword Planner. The Keyword Planner helps you find the keywords that readers are actually using in your niche. If you want your post to get found in search, you need to know how people are searching for it. It’s a vital tool for search engine optimization.

For example, if you’re writing about weight loss, is it better to write “lose unwanted pounds” or “lose unwanted fat”? Which one are more people searching for? Which one is more likely to bring you traffic? That’s where the Keyword Planner Tool can help you.

There are 3 ways that you can find keywords for your posts:

  • Your product or service: Type in a word or words that describe the topic of your post. Put each one on a separate line, and avoid using very broad terms like “knitting” or “cats”. You want to type in phrases that are specific to your post.
  • Your landing page: If you enter a URL into this box, the Keyword Planner will analyze it and recommend keywords based on that page. While it says “your” landing page, you can also use this in other ways. Go to other blogs in your niche and analyze some of their pages to find out what keyword phrases they’re optimized for. You’ll get great post ideas as well as powerful keywords to use.
  • Your product category: I never really use this option, as I don’t find it to be very helpful when it comes to finding really good keywords. But, you can use it in combination with the “product or service” search to narrow things down. It’s always a good idea to experiment – you never know what’s going to give you an awesome keyword.

 

Narrow Down Your Options:

Depending on what you’re looking for, you can get really targeted with your keywords by filtering it down a bit.

  • Targeting: There are four filters under targeting – here’s what they do:
    • Location let’s you choose whether you want to see world-wide numbers, or if you want to focus on a specific country or location. Most of the time, I use US specific search terms, because most of my readers come from the US. If you’re blogging for a local business, you’ll want to get even more targeted. Say you’re writing a review about an Orlando electrician – you can choose “Orlando, Florida” as your location, or widen it a little to include all of Orange country.
    • Language is pretty self explanatory. If you’re writing your post in English, you’ll want to target English speaking searchers.
    • Search type is something you will leave set to Google as a blogger. The other option comes more into play for people who are looking for ad campaigns for Adsense.
    • Negative Keywords is where you’ll enter any words that you do not want to be included in your search results. For example, if you’re writing about an affiliate product for learning Spanish, you might not want to sift through keywords that include people searching to “Learn Spanish for free” – so you would include “free” as a negative keyword.
  • Customize your Search: Most of these options are only useful to people who are creating Adsense campaigns. However, Keyword Filters does give you the option to filter out keywords that have less than a set number of searches per month. I generally set this to less than (<) 10000 searches per month. Anything more than that is generally too broad and will have too much competition. But this is definitely something you can experiment with and test to find out what kind of numbers work best for your blog.
    • Keywords to include is the opposite of negative keywords. Any word that you add here will be in all the results. This is great help when you’re looking for certain long-tail keyword phrases; simply add words like “How to”, “What is” or “How does” to find phrases that people are searching for.

 

Once you’ve got everything set, click on the “Get Ideas” button, and after a second or two you’ll be taken to the results page.

Sop up all those juicy keywords! 

Ok, maybe not quite yet. First, you’ll notice that you have two options — “Ad group ideas” and “Keyword ideas”. While Ad group ideas are generally more useful for people doing AdSense campaigns, it never hurts to check them out; they can often help you narrow down your ideas.

Click on over to the Keyword ideas tab and you’ll see something like this:

The keywords are listed by relevance, according to what Google believes is most relevant to the search terms you chose. You can also click on any column to sort the results; I usually sort by the average monthly searches.

Average monthly searches are exactly what you think. It bears keeping in mind this an average. If your search is for something like “How to carve a jack o lantern”, the actual search numbers are going to fluctuate wildly depending on how close we are to Halloween.

You’ll notice a little graph icon just to the left of the search numbers; click on this to see a graph of results over the last year. You’ll be able to see seasonal differences in search numbers, as well as tell if something is getting more or less popular over time.

Competition is a measure of how many advertisers are bidding on a keyword. While it might not help your SEO, it can let you know how valuable that keyword is. Generally, if there is high competition, it means a lot of advertisers are creating campaigns with that term – because it makes them money.

Suggested Bid goes hand in hand with ‘Competition’. If the bids are very high, it’s because the search term brings traffic that’s willing to spend money. Again, this may not be as important to your SEO purposes, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind.

As you choose keywords, try to find words that offer a high volume of searches without too much competition.

Using this information, you should be able to use the Google Keyword Planner Tool like a pro to take action and find the best keywords to bring traffic to your blog.