Blogging is a marketing strategy that many businesses use to build influence, showcase products/expertise and drive traffic to their website. This strategy only works, however, if people are able to find your blog. For businesses that are not seeing the results from blogging that they hoped for, a simple tweak can change everything. And that tweak is finding the right keywords for their blog so they can improve SEO (search engine optimization) and spend more time coming up in searches by their target audience.
Finding the right keywords is only half the battle of SEO and the campaign to drive traffic to your website and blog. The other half is using them properly so that search engines can easily track them down, and users find your content instead of your competitors’.
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How to Find the Right Keywords for Your Blog
Before we dive into how to find the right keywords for your blog, let’s step back a little and learn more about what keywords are and why they matter.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the relevant words and phrases defining what your content or blog is about. When it comes to SEO, keywords are the clues the search engine seeks to find appropriate content when someone enters a search query.
For example, if you were to do a Google Search for ‘What are Keywords,’ in the background, Google is analyzing countless bits of data to search for content that contains those words or subsets of those words. Once it has compiled its data, it shows it to you in the order of ranking – or what Google feels has the most value to fit what you were looking for.
There are two categories of Keywords to consider: single, or seed, keywords, and Long-tailed keywords.
Single, or seed keywords are vital to include in your content but are probably not what is going to drive users to your site. As an example, say you sell shoes online and in a bricks-and-mortar store. “Shoes” is a keyword you must use, but there are millions of shoe sites on the web and therefore, a LOT of competition. This makes your chances of being found by just using the keyword ‘shoes’ practically nil. Beyond that, how often do you think people just type the word ‘shoes’ into a google search?
Long-tailed keywords, however, offer more specificity. Using the same example above, to have more people find your content, you can use long-tailed keywords such as ‘shoe stores in Seattle,’ or ‘Manolo Blahnik retailers in Seattle’ or ‘inexpensive sneakers Seattle’ or ‘best men’s shoe store in Seattle.’ Long-tailed keywords help you compete with similar retailers and allows owners of smaller sites more opportunity for appearing in SERP’s (search engine results pages).
Understanding Keyword Density
Have you ever heard the term ‘keyword stuffing’? A few years back, many online marketers were trying to trick the Google algorithm and get to the top of SERP’s by overloading, or stuffing, their content with keywords. The content itself had little to no value, but at the time, the Google Algorithm couldn’t detect that.
Google has gotten a lot smarter and has updated its algorithm. It now can identify these SEO cheaters and punish them. This is why when creating your blog content it is crucial that you use the right percentage of keywords relative to your article’s length – and no more.
What’s the right length you may wonder? While there’s no hard and fast rule about exact keyword density percentage, a rule of thumb is to keep it to 1 percent of your text. That means a 1,000-word piece features 10 keywords. If that’s insufficient, up the keyword density ante to 2 percent, but don’t go over that amount.
Most importantly, make sure that your use of keywords in the content makes sense and that above everything, your content adds value to your readers. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you get everything right about keywords, if your content sucks – you’ll never get people to come and read it!
Keyword Searching Tools and Methods
Now that you understand keywords, you need to figure out how to find the best keywords for your content. So let’s get started!
Whenever I talk to a client about keywords and how to get started identifying which may work for their business, we start with a simple exercise and question:
“If someone types ‘X’ into Google Search, you want your blog to appear first in the SERP’s. What is ‘X’?”
Now answer that question. What is your ‘X’?
List out the single keywords and the long-tail keywords that you feel fit your business and the content you want to create. Once you have your list, we’ll see which of them make sense for you to use.
We’ll do that using a keyword search tool like Google Keyword Planner or one of the eleven other options outlined in this article. Some of the tools are free, and others have fees involved. Most importantly, you need to use a tool that you are comfortable with and makes sense to you. I always suggest Google Keyword Planner as a great place to start because it’s so easy to use and it’s by Google – the folks we are trying to impress (?).
Here’s how the tool works. You simply enter a keyword or multiple keywords into the search tool. I suggest you start with one to start – so why not choose one from the list you created earlier in the exercise! Once entered, it will return the results, which include keyword ideas by relevance, average monthly searches, competition, Top of Page Bid Range (high and low).
Once you have a list of possible keywords available, you’ll need to start filtering them by searching for those that you can most effectively use. You can start by basing that on:
- Search volume
- Overall relevance to the content you are creating
The last point on that criteria is crucial. You never want to write for SEO, but write with SEO in mind. First and foremost your blog has to have value and be something your audience wants to read.
The Right Keyword + Valuable Content = A Highly Engaged Blog and More Traffic
Now that you have identified the right keywords for your blog, understand keyword density and what role keywords play in improving your overall rankings and driving traffic to your site, it’s time to start writing!
Start by using your keyword research as a base for choosing a topic that your audience has interest in and relates to your business products or service. Using the keyword search example above, I might choose ‘business blogs’ and ‘small business blogs’ as two keywords for a post with the headline: Why Small Business Blogs Are a Powerful Marketing Tool. While the search volume is lower on these terms (only 1K to 10K a month), the reality is that we provide a very specific service to a specific market and if we can attract a portion of that smaller group, that’s a win for us and fills our funnel with enough new leads.
Once you decide your topic, work your keyword(s) organically and naturally into your content. If you are a WordPress user, install the Yoast SEO plugin, which will help you with readability and keyword density. For more marketing tips on creating a blog with pizzazz, check out our blogging or content marketing blog categories for some great marketing tips.
Hopefully, we’ve been able to demystify SEO and keywords for you in this article so you can start using them effectively in your business blog.
If you want to use your blog as an effective marketing tool, but you just don’t have the time or patience to do it yourself, then let us help! Check out our content marketing packages, which are designed to get you great results with little to no effort on your part!