How to Use Keyword Research for Blog Post Optimization

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How to Use Keyword Research for Blog Post Optimization
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Stuart Miles

One great way to grow an audience to your blog is through search engine traffic. You just never know which random searcher is going to land on your blog, like it, subscribe to it, share it, and keep coming back for more. There are certain numbers of people searching for different search terms on Google every single month. By knowing how to properly do keyword research and how to use those keywords to best optimize your blog posts, you can get as many of these searchers as possible to land on your blog. The beauty of growing your blog or website through search engine optimization is that you don’t get the same people coming back time and time again. Different people throughout the entire world will be typing in the search terms that you are optimizing for and at different times. The growth potential is endless if you properly optimize a post on your site for a low competition keyword that gets lots of searches!

2 Ways to Use Keyword Research for Blogging

Write your post and then optimize it for certain keywords. This might be the best option for bloggers who are new to keyword research. Instead of throwing off your entire routine, just go about writing a blog post on any topic the way you normally would. After you are done writing the post, then you can go back and do keyword research on whatever the main topic is. You may or may not find a relevant low competition keyword that gets a decent amount of searches. If you do, you can easily make some minor changes to the article to optimize it for the keyword you found. If not, no big deal. Not every single article needs to be optimized for the search engines. I wouldn’t let this entirely new (to you) concept of keyword research consume too much of your time. Not so much anyway that it will have an effect on your blogging output.

Use keyword research to find specific topics to write about. Maybe you have a general idea of a topic you would like to write about, but are unsure where to start and what exactly to focus on. Keyword research will give you a great feel for what people are actually searching for. What they are searching for is information. If you can get your post to rank in the top 10 search results in Google for the keyword that these people are searching for, there is a good chance that a certain number of them will land on your site. When looking for a topic to write about using this method, you want to find a keyword that gets at least a decent amount of monthly searches and one that you actually have a chance to rank for in Google’s top 10.

The best way for me to describe this keyword research method and how it can be used for blog post optimization will be to show you some examples. The following sites are all from the personal finance niche and their owners have commented on this blog in the past. This post is about HOW to use keyword research for blog post optimization. If you have not yet read my first post on keyword research for blogging, you may want to do that first in order to better understand the WHY.

Where to Use Keywords for Blog Post Optimization

For best on page optimization within blog posts, these are the places your target keyword needs to be (“Why Do Babies Spit Up,” is the example keyword I used previously). This list was posted in the first article in this series, but it is very important to understand so I am posting it again.

  • In the post title – Why Do Babies Spit Up?
  • In the URL – http://matt76allen.wpengine.com/why-do-babies-spit-up
  • In the META description for the post
  • In the first sentence of the first paragraph
  • In at least one sub-heading with an H2 tag (Heading 2)
  • In about 1% of the content. (If the post is 700 words, the keyword should be used about 7 times)
  • Somewhere in the last paragraph
  • In the ALT tag of an image on the post (I always make this the same as the image title)
  • Add the exact keyword (phrase) as a Tag in WordPress

NOT Using Keyword Research and NOT Optimizing  Blog Posts

My first example comes from a fairly new blog called Budget and the BeachThis blog appears to have been around since May 2012 and I am guessing the author still considers herself a newbie. I wouldn’t expect that this whole concept of keyword research had even occurred to her. I know I was clueless about it when I was a newbie blogger (around this time last year). Nonetheless, I will use one of her posts as an example for one that is not optimized at all for a good keyword. Here is the post – When You Find Yourself In a Hole, Stop Digging.

This post starts off using the financial analogy of trying to dig yourself out of a hole, then goes into the authors specific plans for the future. The entire post isn’t really targeted on one specific topic, so it would be hard to pick one keyword to specifically optimize for. I punched some keywords like, dig yourself out of a hole, into my Long Tail Platinum keyword research tool. Here are some of the results that I thought could be relevant. Long Tail Platinum results for Budget and the Beach post - Dumb Passive Income The columns, in order, are: keyword – avg CPC – local monthly searches – global monthly searches – advertiser competition (1-100) – average (KC) keyword competitiveness (0-100).

Make sure you read my first keyword research for blogging post to better understand what the KC score in Long Tail Platinum means. This is the feature within the keyword research tool that makes all the difference and makes keyword research extremely simple – especially for beginners.

As you can see, the two keywords that get a decent amount of searches also have an average KC of 40 or above. These would be difficult to rank for with just one blog post, and especially on a newer blog that doesn’t yet have high rankings. The keywords with the lower KC scores have a shot to get ranked in Google on this blog, but look at the number of searches! Why even put in the effort for keywords that get 28, 58, 22, or 0 monthly global searches?

If Budget and the Beach wanted to optimize for any of these keywords, it would be pretty simple to change some of the wording in certain places within the current post. For example, pick one of the keywords and make sure it is inserted in all of the places listed above under the Where to Use Keywords sub-heading. I probably wouldn’t bother though. Not every post on a blog has to be optimized, and this might be one of those posts. There is nothing wrong with not optimizing all of your blog posts for the search engines. I just wanted to show you an example.

Another example of a post that is not optimized for search engine traffic comes from my friend Mike over at his blog – Live the New Economy. This post is titled, How I Saved My Family $214,292 This Week. A witty title like this is obviously designed to grab attention by sparking the curiosity factor of whomever might see it. Again, nothing wrong with a tactic like this if you are try to get the attention of people who already know about your site or follow you. This won’t catch the attention of any random searchers on search engines though.

Mike knows how to do keyword research, and even owns the keyword research tool Market Samurai. He admits though that he doesn’t use it to optimize blog posts. An example of how he could have used it to better optimize this post would be to do research on the specific products he mentions in the article that are helping him save money. Here is what I came up with in Long Tail Platinum

Long Tail Platinum results for Live the New Economy - Dumb Passive Income

The keyword competitiveness scores of 39 and 44 are slightly higher than I would like for blog post optimization. But, as an example, he could have optimized for keywords like this and had a better chance to bring in at least some search traffic. All of these keywords have good search volume. He could have even kept a witty title, but changed it to something like, “How a Shaving Brush and a Nespresso Coffee Machine Saved My Family $xx,xxx.” If he also would have put those keywords into all of the other suggested places (see list above), he would be fully optimized and would have a much better chance at getting some search traffic to this post.

Both of these posts – at Budget and the Beach and Live the New Economy – not only did not use keyword research, but they also did not optimize properly for any keywords. Just by doing a quick scan of both posts, I could tell that the titles were not optimized, sub-headings in the articles were not optimized or were non-existant, and ALT tags on their images were not set with any keywords. I’m not trying to pick on either of these blogs. As I mentioned, it is perfectly okay to write posts like this for your current readers or subscribers. I just wanted to use them as examples and possibly point out areas they could improve.

Optimizing a Blog Post for the Wrong Keywords

This next post comes from a site called My Money Design and is titled, Affordable External Hard Drives vs Online File Backup Service – Which is Better? When I saw the title to this post, I knew right away that he was trying to optimize for specific keywords. The word affordable was the dead giveaway. By adding that word, it doesn’t sound natural. If the word affordable wasn’t in the title, I may not even have been suspicious. But it is there, so I investigated further.

This entire post is optimized very well for both keywords – affordable external hard drives and online file backup service. They show up in the title, in the URL, in sub-headings with H2 tags, in the ALT tag of the image at the top, in the content and set as Tags in wordpress. This blogger has obviously done some research and knows how to properly optimize a post for specific keywords!

The problem with this post is the keywords that he optimized for. I don’t know if he did keyword research or not, or if he used any kind of keyword research tool. Even if he used the free Google Adwords keyword tool, he would see results that looked like this…

Google AdWords Keyword Tool results for My Money Design - Dumb Passive Income

One keyword gets only 36 Exact Match global searches per month, and the other gets less than 10! Even if he were to get this post to rank in the top 10 in Google, it might only bring in a few extra visitors per month to his site.

I typed both of his keywords into Long Tail Platinum and came up with some of the following results…

Long Tail Platinum results for My Money Design 1 - Dumb Passive Income
Click on image to enlarge

As you can see, any of the keywords that have to do with online file backup services have very high KC scores, ranging from 56 to 62 in this example. These would be nearly impossible to rank for in just one post on a blog that isn’t entirely focused on just that topic. My Money Design could have a shot at ranking for one of the keywords that has to do with external hard drives though. The one with the lowest KC score, external hard drive deals, has a KC score of 37. By clicking through to the competitor analysis page in Long Tail Platinum for this specific keyword, I see this…

Long Tail Platinum results for My Money Design 2 - Dumb Passive Income
Click on image to enlarge

This page shows Google’s top ten results for the keyword, external hard drive deals, and all of the relevant stats. The column that interests me the most is the KC column (shaded in gray and only available in Long Tail Platinum). Results #8 and #10 have very low scores and should be very easy to beat with a properly optimized post. I think if My Money Design were to optimize a post, or even change his current post, he could get it to rank on the top page of Google for a keyword that gets 1,300 global exact match searches per month!

Update Since Post Went Live

It has been brought to my attention that my tone in the above examples may have come off as condescending. As if I was trying to single these blogs out for doing things the wrong way. I apologize sincerely if I have offended any of the site owners, as this was not my intent at all. Allow me to explain.

None of these sites are doing anything wrong. They are just blogging away and using the resources that they know. I was simply trying to point out ways that they could improve, while at the same time showing other readers how to effectively use keyword research to optimize a blog post. Honestly, I could have found examples like this on just about any blog that I visit. I chose these three because I read and enjoy all of them. Also, each of them has linked to this site in the past, and I thought this was a great way to link back.

There are very few blogs that I know of that actually use proper keyword research in their SEO efforts. Many bloggers don’t even know what keyword research is. I myself would be included if I hadn’t quit blogging last May to pursue building niche sites. I since have learned a great deal about keyword research and now see how beneficial it can be to bloggers. I simply want to give back to the blogging community by trying to teach them how to use it to to best optimize their blogs. I am putting forth this effort in the best way that I can.

-Matt

Long Tail Platinum and Long Tail Pro

The examples used in this post that reference Long Tail Platinum are done so using the free beta version. All current owners of Long Tail Pro are getting the privilege of trying out the Platinum version for free during the beta test period, which is scheduled to end Dec. 11th, 2012. On this date, the Platinum version of Long Tail Pro will have a monthly cost associated with it (to be determined). Long Tail Pro is always available for a one-time low price. The software is and always will be updated for free.

If you want to purchase Long Tail Pro and take advantage of the last few days of the free beta trial for the Platinum version, click here to go to the sales page.

Spencer Haws, the owner and creator of the software, has been kind enough to offer one free copy of Long Tail Pro for me to give away to my readers next week during the launch for Long Tail Platinum. Keep watching my blog next week for details on that!

All links and banners within this post that lead to Long Tail Pro or Platinum are affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through any of these links, I will receive a commission. If you’ve found this post helpful and informative and do decide to buy, I greatly appreciate you doing so through one of my links. Thank You and happy keyword hunting!

Remember, there are several dumb ways to create passive income online, but only one site that is blogging about it! Dumb Passive Income… dot com.