Keyword Research Tips – Is anyone reading your blog posts?


Are you breaking your fingers writing your blog posts for no readers at all?

Have you  been told that all your best customers (and readers) will find you via networking and social media?

Sure, you will get some exposure on social media. And maybe a lot of people will find you. But it’s hit and miss, right?

Why not consider Google and SEO? After all, search engine traffic can come at any time, and in large volumes. And it will be those people, who are searching Google for the exact words and phrases you have targeted, that will find you. So is SEO really the waste of time that people claim it to be?

Sure Google is hard to please, but why not make a little effort before you write a post on a topic that will get little attention.

Why not write a post that people will find, enjoy and share? A post on a topic that people are already searching for!

The best way to do that my friend, is with these keyword research tips.

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Keyword research tips: Using Keyword Planner

Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner is the perfect starting point for keyword research of any kind. If you have an idea for a post, then pop on over to Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner and do some simple research. Try the following:

  • Click on”Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”
  • Type in the keyword(s) you are planning to blog about (field: your product or service)
  • Click Get Ideas down the bottom

Google AdWords Keyword Planner get ideas

On the results page you will get two types of results:

  • Ad groups ideas
  • Keyword ideas

Google AdWords Keyword Planner result types

Ad group ideas is useful for seeing what similar keyword phrases are being searched for. Google has simply sorted words for you into groups they think are alike. So this area helps you get better ideas of similar or slightly better long tail combinations.

Here is an example of one of the top (ie. most searched) group for the term “ice cream flavours”. I have clicked on the “Keywords like : Ice Cream Company” group. What is shown next is a simple table of keywords that can be sorted by various columns. More on that later.

Keyword Planner ad group ideas

Keyword ideas on the other hand provides a simple list of ideas based on the words you gave. As such, the sorting is up to you. It is a more appropriate way to search if you have narrowed down the keywords already. This is also a good way to just brainstorm and see what comes up for your topic. The results table for this area is the same as above, but as I mentioned, you get all the words in one big list.

Deciding on Keywords to Use

Deciding on what keywords are worth aiming for is the key to it all. Hence the term ‘keywords’! Keyword Planner gives you a number in the Average Monthly Searches column, that tells you how many people are searching for each keyword phrase. What you are looking for is the biggest number of course. The problem is, the most searched for keywords are usually very hard to rank for. This is also measured by Google, and indicated by the high – low rating in the Competition column.

My suggestion: skip the high and medium competition keywords. Unless your blog already rocks. Otherwise you have little chance. It is usually the single or two word keywords that are hard to beat. You need to go for longer, so called ‘long tail keywords’. These are usually three or more words long, and do not get such large search volumes.

So how do you work with the Keyword Planner search results?

When I have a keyword list open, I then do two things:

  • Sort by the column: Average Monthly Searches
  • Sort by the column: Competition

I do these sorts separately, and I only sort by competition if all the largest average monthly searches are ranked “High” in the competition field.

Why? Because “High” means there is a lot of competition for these words, and I am wasting my time using them as keywords. So I then sort by Competition (usually click twice to put the lowest competition at the top) and look for either:

  • A blank field (actualy a minus sign “-“)
  • Low (these are the keywords your average person could rank for )

Unfortunately you cannot do multi-column sorting to find the highest average monthly searches for the “low” competition keywords – you would have to export the data into Excel to do that.

Note: To download the keywords list, you can just hit the download button at the top right of the keywords list. You can then save the keywords in a CSV file and import it into Excel.

I personally just look for the entries with the largest average monthly searches.

Narrowing down your search for keywords

During the early stages of keyword research I often find some keywords that I had no idea people are searching for. So in the beginning it pays not to be too specific with your keywords (one or two words at most).

I then re-use the keyword planner to search on the phrases I have found in the first round, and see what else comes up. Most of the time there is nothing interesting, but sometimes Google will show you other words you had not seen in your first “broad” search.

It also pays to look for similar keywords, in order to form combinations. Then you get multiple keyword phrases in your post without butchering your post to accommodate vastly different keywords.

For example, you might find the following three keywords for ice cream:

  1. ice cream flavours
  2. flavours of ice cream
  3. best ice cream flavours

These 3 combinations can easily be weaved into a post on the best ice cream flavours around!

At most I would go for two or three keyword phrases in one post. Otherwise you won’t rank for any of them.

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Get on Page One of Google

That is more or less it for the first stage of keyword research, but I wanted to tell you about “taking it to the next level”. How the pros do it, so to speak.

Sure, you can just do the above in Google Keyword Planner, and then go write your post. That in itself is a good start.

However, Google only gives you the search volumes and their advertising competition. Keyword Planner is looking at the competition for keywords from advertisers, not bloggers.

What you are really aiming to do with your post is get on the first page of Google, right? That is where the traffic comes from.

But, if you cannot get on the first page, then you are often wasting your time.

Here are a variety of powerful tools you can use to help you rank on Google:

  • Market Samurai helps with keyword research and finding out if you can get on page one of Google
  • SEMRush is awesome for finding keywords you missed or your competitions and does a whole lot more
  • KWFinder is also an easy tool to do extensive keyword research and compare competition

In my next post on keyword research I will show you how and why you really need to be using these tools. If you want to rank on the first page of Google that is.

In the meantime, if you need more information on using the Keyword Planner, here are some great sites:

Google Help – Keyword Planner

Search Engine Land – How to use Keyword Planner

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It is quite simple to do a little keyword research before diving into a blog post that no one will ever find.

Just take your ideas, plug them into keyword planner and see what comes out.

With a little sorting and filtering you will find out if your ideas and keywords are worth writing about.

And, you may even find some ideas for posts on topics that people are actually searching for.

Photo credit: takacsi75 via photopin cc

About the Author Ashley Faulkes

Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).

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