So anyone who has been blogger for a little while will know the importance of SEO (search engine optimisation), and a key component to SEO is keywords (haha, key component, geddit?). If you use the right keywords in your posts that match the searchers intent (i.e. what they are Googling), you can stand to generate more traffic.
Sounds simple, yeah? No. It’s not.
Manipulating the amount of organic traffic (that means traffic from search engines) is not an easy job. There’s plenty of competition out there, and Google has also changed a lot from the days when simply stuffing your content with the keyword gave you a good chance of ranking highly for a search that matched. If you rank highly, you’re more likely to generate more traffic.
Nowadays, the keyword needs to be used naturally, ideally within your blog post title, the post URL and throughout the copy without being overused. Only use them contextually – i.e. not for the sake of it.
If you use self-hosted WordPress (a WordPress.org site), then before reading on I recommend you install the Yoast SEO plugin, as it cleverly indicates how many times your keyword has been used as you type. If you don’t have WordPress, once you’ve completed your post you can run it through a tool like this to see how often your term has been used.
There’s no magic formula for how often your keyword should be mentioned, but this post from Yoast says that keyword density should be around 0.5% – 2.5%. Much more than that is going to appear unnatural to Google.
Before we get started, I highly recommend you grab a cup of tea or coffee for this one because it’s gonna be a long one.
Finding the right keywords for your blog post
So now you know how important they are, it’s time to get cracking with your keyword research. There are tonnes of tools out there that claim to give you keyword data, but the best source to go to is Google’s own Keyword Planner Tool.
To use Keyword Planner, you need to have a Google Adwords account. This is what is used to create PPC (pay per click) campaigns which also rely on keywords. You’ll have to sign up for an account and follow the instructions to create a campaign, which you can immediately get rid of.
Unfortunately this process does include adding payment details, but you won’t need to spend a penny. Just follow the instructions below to get started!
(Don’t be put off by the multiple steps – you only have to do this once and it gives you access to the very best way of finding keywords!)
Signing up to access Google’s Keyword Planner Tool
Go to Google Adwords (this link opens in a new window, so you won’t lose this guide!) and click ‘Start now’.
Next, fill in your email address and website name. If you don’t have a Google account for your email address, it will prompt you to create one. If you do, it will ask you to login.
EDIT: Thank you to Aine who informs me you don’t need to create an ad to proceed, hurrah! You can skip this section and head straight to the ‘Using the Keyword Planner Tool’ section if you like!
Now it gets a bit complicated – you will need to create an ad to proceed. Fill in the sections on this page with the most relevant information e.g. you want to target the UK, your product or service is a blog and your product or service is blogging writing. Fill in the ad section with whatever you want, and set the lowest budget it allows for your campaign.
Click ‘Save and continue’ once you have saved each section on this page.
The next page is for all your Billing details. You will need to fill this in with legitimate details but as I said before, you can cancel the ad you have created straight away once you access your account. Click Verify once you’ve filled it in then press OK on the screen that pops up.
The next screen that comes up is a Review of the process you have gone through. It will show your completed ad and Billing Summary. Then you will need to accept the T&C’s before clicking ‘Finish and create ad’. That will take you to a screen that says ‘Continue to dashboard’.
Once this screen has loaded up, your newly created ad will be at the top. Straight away, you can deactivate this ad. Click the slider to Inactive. A box may pop up asking for your reason for deactivating it, but you can click cancel and it will still be inactive. Make sure it is definitely not active before the next step!
FYI: You may get an email from Adwords saying your ad will be live in 24 hours. IGNORE IT. It’s not factoring in that you’ve set it to inactive so rest assured it will not be going live if you’ve followed the instructions above!
Using the Keyword Planner Tool
Now you have an Adwords account, go to the Keyword Planner Tool (again, this link opens in a new window). This will prompt you to sign in to Adwords to access it. This should happen automatically rather than you needing to sign in again.
You’ll see a screen with a few options (and a handy reminder that none of your ads are running – if you can’t see this, head back to Adwords and triple-check your ad is inactive!). If we’re all good, then on Keyword Planner select ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’.
Here, I recommend using the first field (your product or service) rather than the other options. In this box, type in the basic topic of your post, for example ‘motivational tips’. Scroll down, and click ‘Get ideas’. The tool will basically use this as a seed keyword and give you ideas on other keywords that users are searching for .
The screen that loads will show you a lot of useful information – the chart along the top shows you the average number of searches monthly for the seed keyword you chose, but you’ll want to look below at the table of keywords presented to you.
There’s so much information you can get from this tool, but I want to focus on the element that is most helpful for choosing your keywords: Avg. monthly searches (how many times the keyword is searched for, on average, over a month).
Choosing your keyword
So now you have access to lots of relevant terms related to your blog post topic. Goldmine! Click on Avg. monthly searches to ensure that those with the most searches are appearing at the top.
Depending on the topic, your keyword and similar ones may have absolutely loads of monthly searches (indicating it could be very difficult to rank for) – these are usually quite generic keywords such as ‘motivational quotes’. This has provided a potential focus for your topic by including quotes in your post, rather than just tips but does still leave you potentially competing with a lot of other sites for attention.
You want to strike a balance by finding keywords which have a smaller number of monthly searches so as to avoid being buried beneath sites that already rank highly for the more generic terms. Search the list for more specific phrases such as ‘positive motivational quotes’ which still has a significant number of monthly searches (2,900) but is a more ‘long tail’ search in that it has a descriptor.
Using it in your post
So now you have your keyword, it’s time to think about how you’re going to craft your post. So, you know you want to include the keyword in the title so you could go for:
- Positive Motivational Quotes For When You Have A Bad Day
- Start Your Day With These Positive Motivational Quotes
Etc, etc. You get the idea. Within the post, you don’t necessarily need to continue to use the ‘positive’ each time, as Google will pick up the relevance from the title, but try using the keyword for the alt tag of your main image, and mention ‘motivational quotes’ a few times *naturally* within the post.
Phew, I told you it wouldn’t be simple.
But honestly, the more experience you have using the Keyword Planner, the easier you’ll find the process and the more you’ll get out of it. Being able to see what people are actually searching for can really help you to optimise your posts, but also create new post ideas as well!
Any questions or other keyword tips? Let me know in the comments below!