Our Blog

April 15, 2016 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

Keyword Research for Blogging - Making Sense Under a Mound of Data

Researching keywords for a new blog post can be overwhelming. Even if you start out with a good brainstorm and a list of keywords, once you plug the list into Google Keyword Manager it’s easy to get buried under a huge mountain of data. After an hour of research, you’re still left wondering: what should I target?

We recently talked with SEO expert turned Inbound Marketer Ryan Shelley to get tips on how to make sense of the data and pick keywords that will help you rank.

First…the fundamentals of a keyword research plan

You should spend 30 minutes to an hour researching keywords for your blog post or campaign.

  • First, brainstorm a list of terms you think your prospect would search for. Remember to go short tail and long tail

  • Scan Twitter, Reddit, and other social and Q&A sites to see how users are naturally using keywords related to your topic.

  • Plug your brainstormed list into a Keyword tool like HubSpot or Google Keyword Planner. Use the “Get Suggestions” tool to add to your list.

Now, you should have a long list of keywords, and, that’s right, a huge chunk of data to mine.

What to do with all of the data your keyword tool spits out

How do you know what keyword is the right keyword to target? While there is no perfect keyword, Ryan’s tip was to play the odds. Here are a few best practices he lives by in his own keyword strategy.

Look for monthly searches of 100 or more

If traffic for the keyword is reading “Low” or has less than 100 monthly searches, Ryan recommends to move on. That’s just not enough search volume to make that keyword worth your while.

100 monthly searches are “maybes” for Ryan. But 300+ monthly searches are a good starting point. If you can rank (especially in the top 3) for a keyword with 300+ monthly searches, you will see a nice increase in organic traffic.

Don’t be afraid of a high competition or rank score

It’s not impossible to rank for high competition keywords. Targeting a keyword with a 90 competition rank might not be fruitful. But targeting a keyword with a 60-80 rank is totally doable.

If you are targeting a keyword with a high competition score, be prepared to create multiple posts and diligently work to promote your posts. Sharing and backlinking are important to helping your post gain traction.

Traffic should be higher than rank score

If you do go after a keyword with less than 100 monthly searches, make sure the search volume is higher than the rank score. Otherwise, the search volume doesn’t justify the difficulty level.

The Keyword Odds: Look for this…

  • > 100 monthly

  • Competition Score lower than 90

  • Monthly Traffic > Competition Score

Remember, the keyword should also be a term your persona is likely to search.

Incorporating your chosen keyword into your blog

Once you’ve chosen a keyword, here’s how to proceed…

Only target one keyword per blog post - but use natural variations

Targeting one keyword per post is an on-page SEO best practice. But in Google’s mission to make it easier than ever to find relevant content, your keyword’s natural variants will carry almost as much juice as the exact keyword.

According to Ryan, “learn how to juggle” and “learn to juggle”, while not exactly the same, will be recognized as the same content by Google.

Plus, using natural variation will give you the opportunity to include more long-tail. You will naturally start picking up organic traffic for these lesser searched terms as well.

Go Long - focus on writing more than 1000 words

Long-form content is becoming more important in ranking for Search Engines. Why? Well, Google’s algorithm is a mystery. But the theory is that Google considers long-form content to be more contextual, and therefore more helpful to the user.

But will people read it? Research says yes, long-form content does get read. Just be sure to follow best practices for writing for the web.

Thanks for giving keyword research more clarity, Ryan!

Ryan gave some us some great pointers on how to sort through the data and identify keywords for blogging. One final tip Ryan gave us is to be patient! If you’re in a competitive space, you won’t move from #100+ to #1 in a month. It will take some time. But with a diligent blogging and backlinking strategy, you will see yourself rise in the ranks.

About Shelly Media Arts

Shelly Media Arts is an inbound marketing agency with SEO expertise based in Melbourne, Florida. Ryan and his team work with work with Small & Mid-Size businesses to amplify their message using Inbound Marketing, SEO and Growth Driven Website Design.

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