If you are new to blogging, or indeed an old hat at it, you’ve probably heard the term keyword research.
It is quite easy to explain what it is, but what most people need is a step by step guide to keyword research and how to implement it on their blog.
In this blog post, I will show you how I implement my keyword research. This includes how I check out the competition, what people are searching for and how you can grow and monetise your blog with a good keyword strategy.
SEO for your blog is the most important thing you can do to grow your blog and inevitably monetise it and keyword research is paramount to SEO. If you are not writing about the terms, phrases and questions people are putting into Google, then you will not be found.
You might be able to get a bit of traffic from your social media accounts. Even though I have 260,000 followers spread over 3 social media accounts, only 3.1% of my blog traffic came from these accounts in the last month.
Let that sink in… 3.1%!!
My main traffic driver has always been Pinterest with nearly 35% referrals and Google following closely behind at 31% in the last month.
My Google referrals have leapt up in the last 6 months, with them increasing significantly in the last month or so. This is because I have started concentrating on applying SEO and having a keyword research for blog posts strategy.
Traffic referrals from Google are now catching up with referrals from Pinterest. There are a few reasons for this –
- Growth is slowing on Pinterest. They are now focusing more on Idea Pins which used to be their story pins. Pinterest is trying to tap into the short form video market like every other platform and I think this is having an impact on direct traffic.
- I have started to concentrate more on my blog SEO and less on pinning my own content onto Pinterest.
- I now have a more concise keyword research for blog posts strategy in place. I am using more keywords throughout my blog and make sure they are included in sub-titles, alt text on images and scattered through my content.
- I have started writing blog posts around what people are searching for on search engines and not necessarily all about what I want to read!
If you still don’t really understand what keyword research is, read my How Important is Keyword Research for Bloggers? A Beginners Guide to Finding Keywords blog post first.
Once you understand what keyword research for blog posts entails, you can start implementing it. Here is my step by step guide to keyword research to get you on your way.
Step By Step Guide to Keyword Research
The ultimate goal of keyword research to help monetise your blog is to find out what your target audience is looking for and the search terms they are putting into Search engines.
With these keywords in place, you have to determine the competition and how easy (or hard) it will be to rank in search engines for those keywords. You want your blog posts to hit the coveted 1st page of Google, but it is quite a difficult task.
This is the tricky bit!
If you’re anything like me and have been blogging for a few years now, you probably have a lot of blog ideas ready to go.
The 3 most important things about keyword research for beginners are –
Follow these steps on how to do keyword research to help monetise your blog.
Step 1 – Make sure your keywords are relevant to your niche
It all starts with ideas! You may be brimming with ideas for your blog, but in reality, does anyone want to read about them?
In my blog How Important is Keyword Research for Bloggers? I talked about how you need to brainstorm ideas for your niche to begin with and come up with the key topics you want to talk about on your blog.
This keyword research for beginners is the perfect place to start.
How do you decide on your key topics or blog pillar content?
I knew what I wanted to talk about on my interior website as they were all areas I had knowledge and expertise in. They were also subjects that people often asked me questions about.
What is your expertise or knowledge in your niche? This is the best place to start. All you need is around 5 or 6 topics that you can use to build up your keyword research for blog posts.
If you are struggling, check out what topics other websites like yours are covering to help give you some ideas. I find that having several separate topics to talk about helps me come up with more ideas and keywords.
Step 2 – Make a list of keywords under each niche-specific topic
You’ve got your topics, now you need to create a spreadsheet (like Excel) where you can list your topics and start coming up with relevant keywords for each topic.
As you can see above, I have 6 different topics I want to cover on my interior website which are all things I have knowledge of and often get asked questions about.
I separate each topic and think of all the different keywords, phrases, questions and guides I could cover to help my target audience.
It is really easy to do keyword research for blog posts for your chosen topics. The best place to find ideas is Google itself, your competition and your current audience (what do they ask you in your comments, DMs and emails). I have more ideas in How Important is Keyword Research for Bloggers
Step 3 – Use a keyword research tool to do a keyword analysis
You should now have a spreadsheet of lots of different topics and individual blog posts to cover. Surely that’s all you need? Well, yes and no.
If you have included lots of questions and phrases that your audience often asks you, then shouldn’t that be enough to drive traffic? It’ll drive your current audience to your blog but the whole point of SEO and keyword research is to grow your blog and send more traffic to your website via Google.
Your initial brainstorming will be fabulous in building up ideas for you to cover, but you need to find out if people are actually searching for your keywords and this is where keyword research tools come in handy.
There are plenty of keyword research tools like ahrefs.com, semrush.com and Ubersuggest, but you have to pay to use these tools. Maybe I will use them in the future, but I’ve found plenty of free tools that work well for both of my websites.
Start with Google itself!
You’ve brainstormed a few ideas and inputted them into your spreadsheet. The best way to get good keyword terms is by using Google itself.
Input a keyword term like “Bathroom renovation ideas” and look at the “People also ask” section. This is a brilliant way of getting keyword phrases that people are entering into google and can give you plenty of blog post ideas around just one subject!
You can also scroll to the bottom of the page and see Related Searches. These are also brilliant keywords to use and help you come up with more ideas.
I add all these keyword terms to my spreadsheet which can give me multiple search terms and ideas for future blog posts.
You should now have quite a full spreadsheet full of keyword research terms. The next thing to do is check out the search volume of these keywords.
Google trends is a great place to find out how searchable your keywords are by comparing them to other keywords you know are ranking, or you already rank for.
On my website – www.melaniejadedesign.com – I am currently on the 1st page for several blog pages, so I tend to compare my keywords to keywords from those posts.
How do I find out what I am already ranking for?
I use Google Search Console. Open up Google Search Console > Select Search Results > Make sure Average Position is toggled at the top > Under queries, order the ranking by position.
You need to find a benchmark search term to compare and don’t really want to go with search terms that are on the 1st page.
This is because the benchmark keyword/s needs to be more of a better-than-average term, not your best-performing term.
As you can see from above, I scrolled down to position 1.2 and I am showing up for search terms like “how to update fitted wardrobes” and “pink and green decor”. These are great keywords I can use in Google Trends to compare to future keywords.
With your ranking keywords, open up Google Trends and compare them to the list of keywords you inputted into your spreadsheet. I always go with Worldwide as my website is universal and I make sure “Past 90 days” is selected.
I was ranking fairly highly for understairs storage ideas. I put in a new search term for Ikea hack Billy Bookcase and can see that it doesn’t always perform as well as Understairs storage. However, people are searching for it so this is a good sign!
This may take a lot of trial and error to get right. A lot of my high-ranking posts don’t have any results in Google Trends as not many people are searching for this term.
This is probably why I am ranking for them! Not many people are searching, therefore websites have done their keyword research for blog posts and realised its not worth writing about.
I wrote a lot of my posts before I started taking keyword research seriously. However, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing as it means I hit the first page on Google as the competition is low!
If you hit a keyword term that isn’t showing any results because no one is searching for it, try juggling the words around or using a different term to ask the same question until you find some results. If this doesn’t work, maybe think about taking the keywords off your spreadsheet.
Step 4 – Use a Keyword Tool generator
If you are still struggling with keywords after performing all the above steps, a keyword tool generator is a good option.
Google ads Keyword plan is a good indicator of how your keywords will perform and can help you find more terms. As this is provided by Google itself, I think it’s one of the best ways to do your keyword research.
For example, I typed in Dark Green into the search bar (a colour I use and talk a lot about on my interior design site) and this is what it came up with –
What I love about Google ads keyword planner is that it shows you the avg monthly searches and the competition.
Looking at the keyword, it would seem “dark green and pink” would be a good term to use as it has a good amount of people searching for it and medium competition.
Another good thing about this keyword planner is that it has a “Broaden your search” section at the top which can give you even more keyword ideas.
Ideally, you need to find a term with low competition so that your post has more chance of ranking. But, with low competition, often comes a very low search count.
Also this keyword planner is aimed at people who want to do ads, so the data comes from ad-led search terms.
However, if you use other tools, I still think this is really helpful in finding good keywords for your blog.
Step 5 – Check out the competition
This leads me to competition and is a really important step.
You might have the best keywords for your website with high search volumes, but how many other websites have already written blog posts about the same subject?
Basically, you need to check out how many sites you are competing against and how strong these websites are.
You can do this by simply entering your keywords into Google and checking the results. If the first page is dominated by websites that are renowned in your niche (like Apartment Therapy or House Beautiful would be in my interior design niche), then it’s very unlikely you will rank on the first page.
However, if your keywords are throwing up websites you don’t recognise, there’s a good chance you could rank.
The best way to check the competitiveness of other websites is to find out their Domain Authority or DA blog score. The higher the score, the more authority this website has and Google will take this into account when ranking search results.
I use the moz.com Moz bar in Google which shows me the DA for each website. This helps me decide whether it is worth using certain keywords and whether I will rank.
You can see the PA (page authority) and DA score on the bar underneath the website result.
As you can see, I rank on page 1 for a dark green and pink search term, with only Pinterest having a higher DA than me.
Step 6 – Enter the search volume and competition onto your spreadsheet
You should now have a list of keywords for your blog posts and a good idea of the search volume and competition.
To decide on what keywords you should be using going forward, enter the search volume and competition results into your spreadsheet.
I used one of my 10th most popular blog posts (you don’t want to use your top performing post as this will be quite hard to replicate every time. You need a better than average performing post) as a benchmark and then entered my keywords to see how they compare.
The trend results for “upgrade bathroom” compared to “malm chest of drawers” is more or less comparable, so this is an averagely performing post with regards to search volume.
I mark my search volume results out of 10. 1 is much lower than average, 5 is average and 10 is breakout. So “upgrade bathroom” is a 5.
I also check the competition. You can do this by either looking at Google itself with the Moz bar tool to check the DA of the other websites, or you can use Google Ads Keyword planner. I tend to use both as it gives a better picture.
You can see from the above results that every top-performing post on page 1 of Google has a DA of over 60. As my website has a DA of 34, this will be quite difficult for me to rank.
Scrolling through more pages, blogs with DA of 30 or more start appearing on page 4. So out of 10, I would rank the competition 3 (not easy but in with a small chance).
You can also check the competition in Google Keyword planner, which confirms that the competition for upgrade bathroom is high.
I do this keyword research for blog posts to get a score for each one.
Listing your ideas with the highest score first will help you decide which blog post is worth creating and which post you should park until you do your next batch of keyword research.
Looking at the above results, it would appear that the best blog post for search volume and competition would be “Modern bathroom ideas”. The worst would be “What should I upgrade in my bathroom?”
Step 6 – Write your blog post
With a list of possible blog posts, start with the highest-ranking blog post first and then work your way down the spreadsheet.
I do keyword research at least every 3 months and the competition and search volume can vary greatly during that time.
The beauty of doing keyword research to help monetise your blog in this way is when you are searching for good keyword trends, you fall across keywords you hadn’t thought about but are breakout in terms of trending and competition. You need to jump on these subjects quickly and ride the trend wave in real time!
This has helped several of my blog posts to rank quickly and pull a lot of traffic to my website.
Let me know in the comments if you have any good ideas on how to do keyword research and whether this step by step guide to keyword research has helped you.