If you want to grow your blog, you need to do keyword research. It’s not as stressful as it sounds, and it can really help.
Be sure to consider what keywords are, how to find them, and how the research process works. Read on to learn more.
What Is a Keyword?
A keyword is a single word or a short phrase. You can choose a keyword for your blog post to help implement SEO.
To optimize the content, you’ll usually use your keyword in the title, a heading, and throughout the body of the article. If you add any images, you can add the keyword to the alt text of those as well.
There are a few different types of keywords you can choose and use. Here’s what you should know about them.
Short-tail keywords are those that are a single word. Some of them can be two words, but they’re usually covering a broad topic. Using my other blog as an example, I might choose the keyword “flute.”
However, ranking for that single word would be very difficult. There are so many other websites that rank highly. And those websites have larger audiences than mine, so they’ll get more traffic.
Especially when you have a new blog, you may want to use long-tail keywords. These are longer phrases of at least a few words. In general, they have fewer sites trying to compete for the top spot in search results.
Using the same example, I could use “unaccompanied flute solos” for a long-tail keyword. As of this writing, I have a blog post that ranks first for that keyword (aside from paid ads).
Another part of keyword research is choosing good secondary keywords for an article. You’ll have your primary keyword, which serves as the basis for the post.
However, you might choose secondary keywords that relate to the topic. If my main keyword is “unaccompanied flute solos,” I might also use “solo flute music” or something similar.
That helps tell search engines what your content is about. Then, the algorithm can better understand the post and know where to rank it in search results.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the act of finding keywords for your blog posts. You can use a lot of different tools to look for keyword ideas.
Some tools are free, while others cost money to use. But you can do good keyword research without having to pay anything.
How to Do Keyword Research
Before you write your next blog post, consider a few keyword research steps. That can help increase the chances of that post ranking highly in search.
Here are some steps I take to research keywords for my various blogs.
Start With an Idea
I’d recommend having an idea for a blog post you want to write. That way, you can narrow down the types of keywords you’ll be researching.
If you don’t have a post idea, you can look for some. Write down the potential title for your next few posts.
Pick Out a Keyword
Once you have a title, go through it and see if any few words stick out. You may or may not want to include the full title as your keyword.
Consider the title “What Is Blogging? Your Ultimate Guide.” I chose the keyword “what is blogging” for that post.
It’s a long-tail keyword. However, it’s not the full title, which would be awkward to include in the body of the article.
Review the Statistics
Next, you’ll want to use a keyword research tool. I use Google Keyword Planner to check the search volume and level of competition for keywords.
If your blog is new, you should look for keywords with a low amount of competition. Your blog will have a better chance of getting to the top of search results.
Now, you may want to find keywords with a lot of search traffic. But if the competition is low, you can go for terms with less search volume because you could start to get traffic from the few people searching for that topic.
If the first keyword you try doesn’t have great stats, look at similar terms. Then, you should be able to find something that works. And if not, you might not want to write about that topic.
Log the Results
You can do keyword research each time you sit down to write a post. I prefer to do my research in batches for about a month of posts at a time.
If you choose to do that, you should log the results of your search. You can log the number of searches per month and the level of competition. Then, when you’re choosing what keywords to use, you can refer to that log.
Keyword Research Tools
As you start to do keyword research, you should review a few tools to use. Some tools are very overwhelming, but others are beginner-friendly.
Here are some popular tools you can use to get started.
Google Keyword Planner
I mentioned that I use Google Keyword Planner to find keywords. It’s part of Google Adwords, but you don’t have to create an ad or pay anything to set up your account.
You can enter a keyword and get details on the average search volume and competition. It will also tell you if the search traffic has increased or decreased recently.
Google Keyword Planner isn’t the most advanced tool. But it offers enough data to help filter out keywords that aren’t a good fit.
Search engines have started to prioritize user intent. That means keywords like questions are gaining traction. You should write your articles for people, not just search engines.
If you don’t have any keyword ideas, start with your main topic. Put that into Google and see what comes up. Then, you can click on a term and see the results.
You can’t get any data this way. But you can take the search term and plug it into a different keyword research tool.
One of the most popular paid tools is Ahrefs. It lets you see a lot of data on the keywords you want to research.
You can also use the tool to analyze your competition. That can help you create better content to out-rank other websites in your niche.
Unfortunately, the tool starts at $99 per month. I’d only recommend it if you have the budget. But as a beginner, you should save that money and use it elsewhere.
Semrush is another premium tool for keyword research. It can help with everything from SEO to market research and social media.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive tool, it’s worth trying. But again, it’s expensive, at $120 a month for the basic tier.
You should stick to free or more affordable tools as a beginner. As you grow, you can always switch to this tool.
Keyword Research Tips
After you get into keyword research, you can get good at it. But to start, it can be frustrating.
Fortunately, I have a few tips to help you get through the process.
I already touched on this, but start with keywords that don’t have much or any competition. You can figure this out with keyword tools, or you can look at the search results.
If the top results are forums, you have a chance to write the first article on that subject. Then, you might be able to get your article to show up before those forums.
Now, many of these keywords have little search traffic. But if you target enough of those keywords over time, it can all add up.
Review Existing Content
Once you choose a keyword, search for it on Google. Go through the first few posts (after the ads) to see what others say about the topic.
Figure out if any of the articles are missing important details. This is another reason to stick to niches you’re an expert in. You might find that other blogs don’t cover certain things that are important.
Also, consider how long the articles are and if they have pictures or videos. Use that information to guide how you create the content for your site.
Research in Batches
I’d recommend doing keyword research for a few posts at a time. You don’t have to write all of the articles at once. But doing the research can help you plan the content.
You can also get into the groove of keyword research. That way, you can get more stuff done in less time.
Find time in your week to research a bunch of keywords. Log the details and results to help plan out your next few posts.
Include Pillar Posts
When you first start your blog, you should write a few pillar posts. These are longer articles that cover a topic in-depth.
They can easily be a few thousand words long. But you’ll break down the topic into many different steps or sub-topics.
Then, you can link back to that article in your future posts. Others might also start to link to that article. That can help you build trust with search engines and get more traffic.
So make sure you research keywords for the basic topics within your niche.
How Often to Do Keyword Research
You can do keyword research as often or as infrequently as you want. I’d recommend doing it at least once a month.
Think about how often you write new posts and how much time you have to research keywords in a single session. Then, you can figure out how many keywords you can find, and you’ll know how often you need to do the research.
Do You Need to Pay for Keyword Research Tools?
You don’t need to pay for keyword research tools. The paid tools offer more insights, but those can be overwhelming.
For now, use free tools. If your blog starts to make a good amount of money, you can pay for tools. But even then, it’s not necessary.
Is Keyword Research Worth It?
If you want SEO to be part of your strategy, keyword research is very worth it. You can do the work once, write your post, and let search engines index your posts.
It takes a while for that to happen for a new blog. But once it does happen, you can get traffic without needing to do much.
Will You Do Keyword Research?
Keyword research is vital if you want your blog to rank in search results. But it can be hard to do as a beginner.
If you need help finding keywords, contact me. I can do the research for you or help you learn to do it.