What Are Keywords and Why You Need Them
Keywords are essentially words or phrases that people enter into search engines, which then deliver a list of websites matching these queries. Keywords help Google and other search engines understand the topic of a site and align it with specific search queries.
In fact, organic traffic plays a major role for many bloggers. If you want to take advantage of this phenomenon and attract more readers, be sure to optimize your content for SEO by doing things like using relevant blog keywords.
Here are some more reasons why it’s advantageous to research keywords for the blog:
- The right keywords will help your content appear higher in the search results and attract more visitors.
- SEO-friendly posts allow you to get free traffic for the long term. One great example of such content is how-to articles, which can attract traffic for months.
- Keyword research helps identify both evergreen and trending topics and makes your content strategy more comprehensive.
How to Research Keywords for the Blog
If you are unfamiliar with keyword research, it may seem like a complicated task at first. In reality, learning how to research keywords for an article can be easier than you think. Below, we’ve gathered the best practices on how to identify keywords for blogs that will drive traffic and help you grow your brand.
Use Dedicated Tools
Optimizing your content for SEO may take some time, as you need to run research and fill in posts with keywords. To make the process more effective, be sure to use special tools that allow you to check keyword relevance, track competitors, and discover trendy topics.
- Check your analytics. Look through your posts and try to find keywords that attract traffic to your website. If you don’t have a separate post for such keywords, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to attract even more readers.
- Google Suggests is a free and simple solution that can help you identify the most popular searches. Simply type in your keyword and see what the search engine suggests. You can also use Google as a related keywords finder by checking the suggestions at the bottom of the search results page.
- Google Trends is another efficient tool that you can use to discover timely topics. It evaluates the volume of searches over time and allows you to filter keywords by region, time period, categories, etc.
- Moz Keyword Explorer helps you discover keywords in two ways: enter a word/phrase to get related keywords or type in a page to see which keywords it ranks for. You can also find keywords in the form of a question to answer your audience’s queries.
- KeywordTool.io allows you to enter words or phrases and find related keywords from Google, Bing, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms.
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner allows you to find keywords even without paying for ads, evaluate their search volume, and get related keywords.
- AnswerThePublic.com is a visual blog keyword generator that provides suggestions for the keyword that you enter. With this tool, you can run a related keyword search and enrich your content with different phrasing options.
You can find more dedicated tools and tips for how to research keywords in our blog post.
Match Your Audience
Understanding your audience is an essential part of keyword research. The deeper you analyze your readers, the easier it is to discover which keywords they have searched for. For example, you can create audience personas in which you describe in detail their demographics, interests, pains, needs, etc. This will help you understand your average reader and take this information into account when creating content.
Another way to understand your audience is to run a survey and ask questions directly. Create a short and appealing survey, and then provide an incentive to reward readers who fill it out. This incentive can be a discount, promo code, access to exclusive content, etc. Furthermore, it may be helpful to analyze users’ behavior on your website. Read more about how to take advantage of Google Tag Manager in our blog post.
Evaluate Difficulty Score
Once you research keywords and align them with your audience, it’s important to also evaluate each keywords difficulty score. Keyword difficulty is the number and quality of links to the top 10 pages in the SERP for a particular keyword. In other words, this score helps us understand how competitive these pages are based on their link profile.
Tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush can assess each keyword difficulty on a scale from 1 to 100 and help you understand whether you have chances of ranking for that keyword. The higher the percentage, the more difficult it is to outwit competitors. For example, Ahrefs shows you the estimated number of backlinks you need in order to appear on the first page of the search results.
So, what score should you strive towards? Aspiring bloggers whose websites have quite low domain authority may want to start from keywords in the range of 20 to 30 or lower.
Check Search Volume
Keyword search volume is the number of searches that a particular keyword receives over a given period. This metric helps understand how many users are looking for a particular keyword every month. While it’s reasonable to use keywords that are searched for by many people, you should still pay attention to their quality. When choosing between high-volume and low-volume keywords, it’s better to opt for a lower-volume keyword or phrase if it’s more relevant to your audience.
You can check the search volume of specific keywords with the help of dedicated programs. For example, WordTracker shows the average number of searches over the past month.
WordStream compares search volume and other metrics for the given keyword for Google and Bing search engines.
Mix Short-Tail and Long-Tail Keywords
Keywords may be divided into many different categories, such as by the word number. Thus, keywords consisting of one or two words are called short-tail keywords, while phrases of three or more words are referred to as long-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are usually harder to rank for, as many bloggers use them in their content. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are more specific and, while harder to put into context, they can help attract users who know exactly what they want. In addition, long-tail keywords make up half of search queries, so they can be very useful for increasing organic traffic.
To identify relevant long-tail keywords, choose a word or phrase you’d like to dedicate your post to and do some research. For instance, type that word/phrase into Google and see which suggestions come up. You can also click enter and scroll down to see related searches at the bottom of the page.
How to Use Keywords
With the rapid development of the blogging niche, new blogs are appearing daily and it is becoming harder and harder to get ranked for a certain keyword at the top of the search results. Google is also constantly changing its algorithm to accommodate users’ needs and better answer their queries. To claim your place under the sun and get traffic, you need to optimize your content and use keywords wisely. Here are a few ways to do this:
Write With Keywords in Mind
Craft your writing around specific keywords. They are the input and you need to create the output in the form of an informative blog post. Instead of thinking about how to include a particular keyword into a completed text, ask yourself how to answer this query in the best way. Ideally, begin writing with a particular keyword in mind rather than forcing it into the text later on.
To create a suitable blog post, it’s essential to understand the search intent behind each keyword. This is basically the goal that the user wants to achieve by Googling a specific topic. Understanding the search intent can help you answer the query in the best way and move the user down the sales funnel. Basically, there are four types of search intents:
- Informational: Users want to learn something about the topic and look for expert knowledge on the matter.
- Navigational: Such search queries are usually more specific and contain a brand name, website name, location, and more.
- Commercial: Users are researching a particular product, service, or brand.
- Transactional: This intent is common for people who are ready to book and are looking for a seller.
So, when you identify a keyword for a blog post, consider the search intent behind it and create a text that will align with that intent and help you move users closer to booking. For instance, if a reader came to your site with the query “best summer destinations”, they are only researching the market. So, promoting a particular hotel is unreasonable as doing so doesn’t answer their question. On the other hand, writing a useful post about the best destinations for summer trips can draw the user’s attention for a longer period of time. From here, you can link to a more specific post for each destination in which you promote your advertisers’ products and if the user is interested in that location, they’ll click the link to book the trip.
Find the Right Placement
The trick is not to simply spread keywords around the text haphazardly, but to put them in places where they are most likely to attract attention and help the user navigate the text. Here are a few ideas:
- Start by using a keyword in your post title, headings, and subheadings. These keywords will improve your readability and search ranking.
- Add a keyword to your title tag. While invisible to users, title tags let search engines know about your page topic and help direct the target audience.
- Use the keyword and its variations in the post text where appropriate.
- Add keywords as meta tags (for example, in the meta description, file names, and alt text of your images).
- Take advantage of internal linking and add keywords as anchor text.
Consider Keyword Density
Another indicator to take into account when writing blog posts is keyword density. Basically, keyword density is the number of times a specific keyword has been used in a blog post, presented as a percentage. It is used by search engines to identify whether or not content is relevant to a particular query.
How can you calculate keyword density? Take the number of times your keyword was used in a post, divide it by the total number of words in that post, and multiply by 100. For example, if you add a keyword five times to a page with a total of 100 words, the keyword density is 5%.
There are also tools that help calculate keyword density, such the Yoast SEO Plugin, SmallSEOTools, SureOak, etc. For example, SmallSEOTools allows you to see the total number of keywords, the most popular keywords in a tag cloud, as well as the top keywords, their frequency, and their placement.
What indicators to strive towards? Many SEO experts consider an ideal keyword density to be about 1 or 2%. In other words, your keyword should appear one or two times per 100 words. This is enough to let the search engines know about your page topic and avoid keyword stuffing. In addition, check the keyword density of the top ten posts in the search results for your target keyword. This can help you find a benchmark to aim for.
The best practice here is to write for readers and organically insert keywords. While it’s tempting to add as many keywords as possible, their excessive use will only make the text look spammy and poor for both search engines and users. Just think of it this way: if you read a book and find the same word or phrase repeated in quick succession several times, it will make you doubt the author’s proficiency and writing skills. The same concept works for blog posts. People want to read well-written text, so always consider the user first.
Use Keyword Variations
Search engines can recognize similar phrases related to a target keyword, so you can use variations to enrich the text, improve the reading experience, and help attract more traffic. In the end, you should have the right balance of word relevancy and long-tail phrasing. For example, if you target the keyword “travel solo” within the same post, you can also use keywords such as “travel alone”, “independent traveling”, etc.
How can you find these variations? Take advantage of related keywords tools like Kmeta, KW Finder, Ubersuggest, etc. For instance, Kmeta provides detailed analytics on related keywords for your target word.
How to Select Better Keywords and Use Them on Your Blog
Keyword research is important for optimizing your content, increasing organic traffic, and attracting target audience. However, successful blog posts should be aimed at attracting the attention of search engines and, more importantly, readers. Take the time to understand who your audience is and what they look for. Identify keywords related to their queries and add them organically into your articles. Thus, you’ll be able to create content that will drive traffic for months and maybe years to come while growing your community.