SEO is one of those things that people groan over. But, using SEO to increase your organic traffic is a way to support the longevity of your blog and, potentially, explode your traffic.
If you want your post to rank in search engines (like Google), you will need to do research to find keywords to use in your post that matches the user intent of the search terms.
There are ways to do free keyword research. Sure, there are paid services that make the process faster and easier, but there are ways to do free keyword research for your blog! But let’s talk a little about what keywords are first.
Before getting into keywords, let’s reiterate that the number one goal you should focus on is creating amazing content for your readers.
It is good to focus on using keywords people use to search for content on the web. But, if you find keywords you want to use and try to smoosh them into your post, your content may suffer (and so will your readership with a cascade effect of HURTING your SEO ranking).
Make sure every word you use and every sentence you write is clear, relevant and (most of the time) conversational in tone, regardless of the keywords you use.
But keywords ARE important…so how in the world do you do it “right”?
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is finding words or phrases (“long-tail keywords”) that people actually search for on search engines. You want to place these in your post (more on where later) so Google (and other search engines) know your post may contain the information their users are searching for.
Well, before writing a single word, here is a method for narrowing your keywords down FOR FREE:
- Think about what you want to cover in your post.
- Write down every topic you want to cover (these can be your headings!).
- Google those topics and open other articles that covers the same or similar content, then see if they cover content you haven’t thought about. Add those to your topic list.
- If you haven’t already, download the free Keywords Everywhere browser extension for Google (for Chrome or Firefox).
- Now go back to your topics list. Google each topic (one by one) and look at the Keywords Everywhere data based on the search results.
- To the right of the search results you will see a list of “Related Keywords” and “People Also Search For” keywords.
- Look at the keywords (and “long tail keywords” meaning a phrase) and pick ones that you think you can rank for. This is the tough part. The search volume per month is in the first column after the keywords. You will generally want to target a medium to low volume keyword that is greater than 0 searches per month. If nobody is searching for the keywords, there’s no use in trying to target them in your content.
- Make a list of the keywords you want to target for that topic and move to your next one.
- Now, search for the one major topic of your article and use the keywords suggested (keeping the above info in mind) to write a keyword rich title for your content.
SEO TIP: Make sure that the keywords you choose match the USER INTENT of their search. That means that you need to choose keywords that a user will use to actually search for your content. If a user searches for something but is shown content they weren’t looking for, they will bounce and your ranking may fall.
Another tool you can use to get ideas is go to AskThePublic and enter keywords or phrases you are thinking to write about. The site will return common questions associated with those words!
Where To Place Keywords
Now that you have your keywords chosen, try to use each of them throughout your post. For the main keywords you are targeting for the entire piece of content, try to make sure the keywords are found in the following areas:
- The content title
- The content URL (“permalink” in the “slug”)
- Meta data (“meta description”) for the post (the summary of your post that will appear in search results)
- First or second paragraph of your content
- In the headers of your content (this is your topic keywords you researched)
- In the alt descriptions of your images (source)
It sounds like a lot, but once you get in the swing of things it’s not a lot of work to implement.
To find your meta description to update it with your summary and keywords, scroll to the bottom of your post to see the field. Note that some plugins may add an area to do this in the same area.
Again, make sure that your content flows for your reader. If you read your article out loud, can you hear where the keywords are? If so, try to smooth them out into your sentences so it sounds conversational.
Here are some other helpful articles on finding and implementing keywords:
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Integrating Long-Tail Keywords Within Blog Posts
- Why You Shouldn’t Do Keyword Research for Your Blog Posts (And What to Do Instead) (an interesting read that focuses on writing content, not keywords)
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