Keyword research is the first step when it comes to creating an SEO campaign for your blog, and because of this, it should be your priority when it comes to running a blog – especially if you aim to earn money through your travel blog.
Here are the steps you need to do when conducting keyword research
- List down your keywords
- Consult keyword tools
- Check search volume and competition
- Optimize your blog and content according to your findings
If you are new to SEO marketing and have been reading about it, you will encounter many discussions about keywords and their usage. Though you may find this part too technical or boring and would prefer to read about the parts like how you can improve your content, it is vital you learn all you can about SEO marketing and keywords. A lot of new bloggers are unable to get visitors to their blog no matter how good their content is because they do not bother to do keyword research. Learning the basics about keywords and how it works will help you get better Google rankings – the basis of how well a website is doing. Learning about keyword research will definitely be worth your time.
What is a keyword?
Keywords are words or phrases that describe what your content is all about. These keywords are used to match your content and adverts with the search terms people use when they are looking for your services, products, or knowledge. Just think about it – every time somebody searches the Internet, they use keywords.
For instance, if someone wants to eat Mexican food in Singapore, they will go to Google, and type in “Mexican restaurants in Singapore” and click search to get a list of Mexican restaurants in the area.
What you place in the search bar are your keywords, and they can be long or short. Take note that online users are not the only ones who use keywords. Search engines like Google are reading the content on your website to find keywords, and they will rank you according to the keywords found, and this is how SEO starts.
Types of keywords
- Short tail keywords – these are the keywords that have a high search volume and usually come in one or two words. They are also called “Head keywords.” These keywords are generic queries that isolate a topic but does not say anything in particular about it.
- Medium tail keywords – these are the keywords that come with a good search volume and usually come in two to three-word phrases. They are also called “Body keywords.”
Example: Exploring Italy
- Long tail keywords – These are the keywords that have a low search volume because they are very specific and detailed and usually consists of four or more-word phrases.
Example: What to do in Italy for five days
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is the task of identifying the most relevant, realistic, and traffic-driving keywords that lead to your blog or website. These are the search terms your target audience uses to look for the services, products, and information you offer within your niche. If keywords are what one types into their search bars, then keyword research is what bloggers and website owners need to do to discover what keywords their target audience are using to bring more traffic to their site. Remember, although it is great to get traffic on your website, it is better to get the right people visiting your website – ones that have a higher potential to be a paying customer or client. This is possible by using the right keywords in your content.
Why is keyword research important?
Keyword research is the starting point when it comes to any marketing campaign done online. But you have to take note that it is an ongoing process. Algorithms are always changing, so you should often check your keywords if they are still relevant to your target audience or not.
Know what your target audience is looking for
Keyword research tells you what people are actively searching for, which gives you vital and genuine information. You will no longer be working on what you think they are searching for – you are working on the real thing, and because of this, you will get real results. It is like getting a preview of how your target audience thinks by giving you the exact words and phrases they are using.
Know which keywords are more effective
Doing keyword research will give you an idea on how often certain keywords are being used and how competitive they are in Google’s search results page.
Conducting keyword research can also give you new ideas. It also gives you an insight into a possible keyword or topic for your blog that you probably never thought of before.
Increase Google ranking
Keywords are like bridges that connect your website to search engines. If you want people to find your blog, you have to be at least on the top 2 pages of Google’s search engine results page because not everyone has the time to scroll on all the results to find what they are looking for (some barely go past page 2 of the results page). Conducting keyword research also gives vital information on your ranking not only where you rank with your keywords, but also which keywords give you higher ranking points and also which keywords for which your competition is ranking.
Better and more effective SEO marketing campaigns
Keyword research will also save you from any necessary digital marketing and SEO marketing expenses because you already have the right keywords that work wonders for your business. It impacts every SEO task that you have to perform and acts as a compass for all your SEO marketing campaigns.
Increase targeted traffic to your blog
Getting a lot of blog visitors can be a great ego booster but if they do not subscribe to your newsletter, leave a comment, purchase your product, or click on your affiliate links, the numbers can be worthless to your growth as a blog – especially if you plan to make money as a blogger. Once you know which keywords work, you can now use them in your content and different pages of your website so you can have more targeted traffic to your website.
Gives your content direction
One of the ultimate goals of doing keyword research is to optimize your blog and website content around the right keywords to perform better overall. The keyword research process helps optimizes a website by using the most effective keywords for search engines to understand the websites’ content better and lead the right visitors to the website.
Steps to do keyword research
1. List down your keywords
Make a list of the possible search terms you think your target audience would use when they need to look for information, service, or products that you can give or relevant topics for your niche. The keywords you conjured will be considered as your “seed keywords.” If you can only come up with a few ideas, you can always go hunting for keywords online:
- Google search – Key in one of your seed keywords, but do not hit the search button yet – see how Google automatically completes your search. Google autocomplete gives you a preview of why most people are searching for using that keyword and to what it is related. You should also take a look at the related searches section Google provides, which can be found at the bottom of the results page. Most of the time, you will get a list of commonly searched long tail keywords for your niche.
- Amazon reviews – search for books on your niche and read the Amazon reviews or summaries. They will often give the chapters in the book and give a list of questions that the book will answer. They are a gold mine for keywords, and you can get some ideas on what type of content to write.
- Quora questions – Go to the Quora site and in the search bar enter a term related to your niche and see what type of questions people are asking about that topic. If you check the right side of the screen, Quora also includes a “Related Questions” sidebar.
- Wikipedia – Wikis are a source of information that is already arranged into categories. Read the contents of each section for keyword ideas. You may even stumble into links to other pages that will allow you to hunt deeper.
2. Consult keyword tools
Now comes the part to see if the keywords you think your target audience uses are using them. Sometimes the keywords you think are relevant are not even among the keywords your target audience are using. When you know the actual keywords your audience are using, you will be able to use the right keywords in your content to lead them to your website. You can verify this by using the right keyword tools. (You can find a list of keywords and their features at the end of this article.)
3. Check search volume and competition
Now that you have a long list of keywords, the next thing you should do is to evaluate them through their search volume. The search volume is the number of results you get from your search engine. If you notice, short tail keywords can give you hundreds of pages while long tail keywords will give you just 10 or fewer pages. The more specific the keyword, the lesser results the user gets.
Generally, the higher the search volume, the more work it will take for you to achieve higher rankings because you will have more competition, and these can take years of effort if you do not use the right tools and strategies. This is why most SEO marketing strategies focus more on long tail keywords for higher chances of success because there is lesser competition.
Just take note though that the rankings are recalculated each month, so your website ranking is never permanent. One thing that you should also keep in mind is that search volume is not equal to search traffic since not everyone clicks on the links they see in their results page.
4. Optimize your blog and content
The majority of your keyword research should be used to optimize your landing page, blog posts, and product pages (if you have products to sell.) Your website’s landing page should be designed in a way that the visitor is compelled to do something like subscribe to a newsletter or purchase an item. It is always best to make sure that you have an impressive landing page to make any visitor want to stay and do some browsing. Your landing page should have your keywords to improve the chances of your target audience finding your website.
Using the keyword research data, you can do a keyword map and make sure that the keywords are in the titles of your blog posts, meta descriptions, your image file names, your body content, your anchor text for links, and, if possible, your URL.
What is the search intent?
Most SEO strategies revolve in a way that they are answering questions that are supposedly posted by online users. This is because most search queries are always in a question format. There are four types of intent:
- Informational – users seek information for research on specific niches, services, or products. This type of intent is also known as the “Know query.”
- Navigational – users have a particular website in mind and enters the website name in the search engine to access it. This type of intent is also known as the “Go query.”
- Commercial – users want to compare products to make a better purchasing decision by looking for reviews, possible issues, pricing, etc.
- Transactional – users want to do something like book a ticket, watch a movie or buy a product. This type of intent is also known as the “Do query.”
- Local – users want to find something in their location like the nearest hospital, mall, laundry shop, or restaurant.
How to use keyword research effectively
Here are the areas where you should place your keywords:
The title of your page shows up as the first line of an entry in the search results page and is also considered as the SEO title. In most cases, the page title is the same as the title for a blog post. The title will be the starting point of relevance for Google algorithms and will let searchers know what the page is all about before they click the link. Your page title will also be the clickable link that you see in the search result page. Most bloggers practice using the keyword at the start of the page title to make sure that searchers see how relevant their site is. The tactic is also good in case the title gets cut off on smaller screens like when a user is searching using their smartphones.
The meta description is the description that you can find beneath the clickable link or the page title, which will help people decide if it is the content they are looking for. If you are not using an SEO tool for your meta descriptions, the first 160 characters of your blog post will automatically be your meta description. Which is why your first sentences should be like a summary of the whole post, and your keywords should also be placed within that frame.
Keywords should be placed in your content strategically so that search engines can find them and index your content to rank your website. But you also have to make sure that you do not overuse them in your content so that there is still a balance between readability and relevant keywords. This tactic is known as “keyword stuffing” and is considered as a black hat SEO tactic that no longer works with the updates that Google has made to its algorithms. Experts advise to concentrate on writing your content first and then do the inserting of keywords later on. A general rule is that you use the main keyword in the first sentence of your content or within the first paragraph. Then, use variations of the keyword throughout the content. Make sure to be able to create content that matches the different types of keyword intent, as discussed earlier. This way, no matter what the intent is, they will still find their way back to your blog.
Your images are being indexed by Google, too, and you should use this as another way for people to find you. The images that you place in your blog should be relevant to your content. Then, insert the keyword in the file name. Use your keywords in the image title (the text that pops up when you run your mouse over the picture.) Now you have to be honest with your labels. If Google is unable to see the connection between your tag and the picture, they will penalize you for it, and your website will rank lower than expected. For instance, your image tag says
You have to optimize your links since it is among the top three SEO ranking factors. Google reads incoming links as a ranking factor; the more links are coming in, the more high-quality the content is in Google’s eyes. Although links from different websites are stronger, you can also do internal links to your older posts. The key to this is to use various anchor text for in-site links that you create. If Google detects that you are placing too many inbound links on your site with the same anchor text, it will read this as a black hat SEO scheme and can penalize your site, making you lose ranking points. The anchor text is the words you use to embed the link in, and these words will help tell Google what the post is about. Use different keywords for your anchor text when doing internal links. Go through older posts on your site that are relevant to your current blog post and link them up.
When you share your website’s content in your social media pages, it is appropriate to add your keywords to your sharing caption as well even if there are already keywords present in the title. Adding an appropriate hashtag in Twitter or Instagram can also help refine the searches to your blog. Social media may not be a direct search ranking factor, but there is a strong link between visibility and social media shares.
What keyword tools should I be using?
Each keyword tool has something different to offer and has its strengths and specialties as well. Here is a list of some of the most popular keyword tools and their most dominant features that most bloggers are using for their keyword research:
Google Keyword Planner
- Most reliable tool since data comes straight from Google.
- It is designed more for Google Ad campaigns and not SEO campaigns.
- “Top of page bid” features show how much advertisers are bidding on a certain keyword.
- Specializes in seasonal keyword fluctuations.
- “Interest over time” feature shows how a keyword is growing in terms of popularity.
- Let’s you know what is currently trending so you can capitalize on it by writing content about it.
Google Search Console
- Performance report that lists which pages on your site gets the most clicks from Google and the keywords that brought them there.
- Engine analytics for your keyword
- Detects pages that have errors in them so you can have them fixed.
Moz Keyword Explorer
- Difficulty score feature which helps narrow down your keyword options (the higher the keyword score, the more difficult it is to rank).
- “Priority” feature combines data for search volume and difficulty, making an overall score for you to know whether the keyword is worth using or not.
- “Organic CTR” feature which lets you know how many clicks can be expected for a particular keyword.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
- In-depth information on each keyword, including the breakdown on what is your first-page competition and how many searchers are clicking on a certain result.
- Specific keyword difficulty data like how many backlinks you will need to rank on the first page, which is why this tool is more known for its backlink analysis.
- Great for checking competition as it gives the exact keywords that a site is already ranking for.
- You can also check your website to know which keywords are already working well for your blog.
- Analytics report on organic traffic, backlinks, advertising, keyword performance, etc.
- Specialized for SEO professionals.
- Search trends data.
- Organic competition data.
- Traffic estimates data.
- A filtering feature to get you the specific keywords that you want.
- Suggested keywords from multiple resources (Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Answers.com, etc.)
- Saved suggestions feature that enables you to download your favorite list of keywords into a CSV file.
Answer the Public
- Gives commonly searched questions concerning a certain keyword and other related queries.
- Results are downloadable as a CSV file for easy report generation.
- Data are mostly from Google Autosuggest and Google Keyword Planner
- Keyword ideas form Google’s search suggestions.
- Search volume data.
- Keyword difficulty.
- CPC data.
- Quoted search result (QSR), which shows how many websites are trying to rank using a particular keyword.
- Potential traffic data.
- Search volume data.
- Competition data.
- Works as a Google Chrome and Firefox browser extension making you see the monthly search volume, competition, and CPC in a Google search results page.
- Shows keywords form different places around the Internet (Google Analytics, eBay, Amazon, Bing, YouTube, etc.).
- “People Also Search For” feature provides other keywords that your target audience searches for when they are looking up your niche.
- Keyword generator based on your seed keyword.
- Search volume data.
- Competition data.
Word Tracker Scout
- Stalk your competitors and the keywords they use.
- Comes as a Google Chrome extension.
- Finds long tail keywords
- Add notes to your keyword searches
Take note that Google’s algorithms are changing now and then to assess better which sites are front page-worthy in their results page, so it is a good idea for you to do your keyword research once every quarter or at least twice a year. This will help you make sure that you are still using relevant keywords. Since Google’s algorithms are getting smarter, it is best to also place an effort in creating high-quality content as well.
Remember that keyword research is an important strategy that every blogger must be aware of. It is the main ingredient in the success of everything and anything SEO. Mastering keyword research will make a huge difference in your blog’s ranking and SEO campaigns.