Keyword Research for Blogging: Picking the Right Keyword

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Long Tail Pro - Dumb Passive IncomeSince purchasing my new tool – Long Tail Pro – a few weeks ago, and being given the privilege of testing out the beta version of Long Tail Platinum, I can’t stop doing keyword research! It’s like an obsessive addiction and I just can’t get enough. I’m finding myself doing keyword research, just out of curiosity, for other websites that I visit. Most of these sites are blogs, and I just can’t get over how overlooked and under-used this entire concept of keyword research for blogging is. It has become my new obsession to get the word out to the blogging community. My mission is to show bloggers how they could and should be taking advantage of some pretty simple tactics to drive as much search traffic to their sites as possible.

Keyword Research Made Simple

Keyword research the free way (I like to call it the dumb way) isn’t as simple as it seems. Read my post about all the dumb things I did and the mistakes I made when I first started doing keyword research. Thankfully, I finally made the decision to purchase Long Tail Pro during the free beta test period for Long Tail Platinum. One of the features within Long Tail Platinum makes keyword research extremely easy. Now any dummy can effectively find low competition keywords that should be easy to rank for.

Long Tail Pro - Affiliate Banner - Dumb Passive IncomeThe Keyword Competitiveness (KC) feature in Long Tail Platinum is what makes keyword research so easy. In fact, I will admit that I totally sucked at keyword research until I bought this tool.  Once I saw for myself how easy it was to analyze keywords simply by looking at the KC score – I was hooked. I explained the entire process in detail in this previous post – with screenshots. I’ll give you the nutshell version here…

It’s pretty simple. Look at the average KC score in Long Tail Platinum for a specific keyword. The lower the number, the easier it will be to rank for in Google. If you find a good keyword with a low enough number, click on it to view the current top 10 Google search results within the Long Tail Platinum software. It spits out a separate KC score for each result. Look for at least one, or preferably a few, of the results to have an extremely low KC score. If they do, you should be able to write a blog post and optimize it for that keyword and have a good chance of getting it to rank on the first page of Google. This is the #1 goal because nearly all search traffic comes from results that are found on the first page.

Long Tail Platinum to Optimize a Post on a Less Established Blog

I sort of picked on some unsuspecting bloggers, without fair warning, in my previous post. To be fair, I should probably use one of my own sites as an example for this one. I started my Pay Off Credit Card niche blog on October 22nd, 2012. I started off using a curated content strategy, and have now morphed that together with this keyword research strategy. My new writing process involves entering in at least one seed keyword into Long Tail Platinum every single time I write a blog post. I then scan the results to find a good keyword to target with each post.

Long Tail Platinum - Pay Off Credit Card campaign settings - Dumb Passive Income
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For one of my recent posts, I wanted to produce an article about how credit card companies screw their card holders. I entered the following seed keywords into Long Tail Platinum: screwed by credit card company, credit card abusive practices, screwed by banks, credit card company profit. I then set some filters. 500 for minimum local and global searches and 2,000 maximum for both. (Click on screenshot to right to enlarge) For a start-up site like this, I don’t need to go after keywords (yet) that get many thousands of searches. At the same time, it would be a waste of time and effort to optimize for a keyword that gets only a few searches.

Long Tail Platinum spit out 46 keywords based on my seed keywords and the filters I set. I quickly scan the results to see if any would fit into a title of an article about credit card companies screwing their customers. The keyword being in the title of the article is very important. For the ones that catch my attention, I click on the Calculate button in the KC column. I then scan these results to see which have the lowest KC score. In this case, the keyword major credit card companies had the lowest KC score at 37.

Long Tail Platinum - Major Credit Card Companies KC 37 - Dumb Passive Income

Note: at the time I originally did this research, this data was valid. On the date I am writing THIS post, the Avg KC score for this keyword has gone up to 42.

Long Tail Platinum - Major Credit Card Companies competitor analysis - Dumb Passive Income
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Next, I click on either the keyword itself or the KC number to get to the Competitor Analysis screen. This screen shows the top ten results in Google and all of their stats. Here, I again scan the KC column to see if any of the results have really low scores. For a small start-up site like mine, with very little authority and low rankings, I am looking for KC scores in the low 20’s or less. I am ecstatic to find 2 within the top 4 results! (Click on screenshot to right to enlarge) With proper SEO and hopefully some natural links (I don’t really do very much manual link-building), I think I could get an article to rank in the top 10 for this keyword.

I wrote the article, Major Credit Card Companies Screwing You?, and posted it on November 27,2012. As of today, December 8, 2012, the article is already ranking #145 in Google! Check out the screenshot below from the Rank Checker – which is a feature available in both Long Tail Pro and Long Tail Platinum.

Long Tail Pro Rank Checker for PayOffCreditCard - Dumb Passive Income

Long Tail Platinum to Optimize a Post on a Well Established Blog

My next example will highlight a possible keyword that a more established blog, with high authority and high rankings, could go after. Specifically, I am going to look at an example for Financial Samurai. Sam, the owner and writer at, has been reading and commenting on my previous posts about keyword research and he literally asked for this. To give you an idea of how authoritative his site is, I punched financial samurai into Long Tail Platinum.

Long Tail Platinum results for Financial Samurai - Dumb Passive Income
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Financial Samurai dominates the top 8 results. I highlighted his stats on the top line just so you can see how high his rankings are. With a KC score of 75, it would be nearly impossible for any other site to take away the #1 spot for the search term, financial samurai.

Without Sam giving me any suggestions, I went ahead and did a little bit of keyword research that I thought could benefit him. I am a regular reader of his blog, so I know that he’s been writing a lot lately about mortgages and it is pretty obvious that he is an affiliate for Quicken Loans. I entered the following keywords into Long Tail Platinum: online mortgage, quicken loans – and set the minimum search volume for local and global to 6,000. In this case, I am (hypothetically) looking to drive much more traffic to a site that already gets a lot of traffic, so I am concentrating on higher search volumes.

Note: I always select Exact for match type. I’m not interested in Broad or Phrase results. I only care about what people are exactly typing into Google for this type of keyword research.

Long Tail Platinum - online mortgage - quicken loans - keyword research
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Long Tail Platinum came back with 112 results for those seed keywords and those parameters. I scanned the results and checked the KC scores for some that seemed relevant. I was not surprised to find out that the online mortgage niche is VERY competitive. Most of the keywords that I checked had KC scores in the mid to high 50’s or low 60’s. Even a high ranking site like Financial Samurai might have a hard time getting a single post to rank in the top 10. The screenshot on the right (click to enlarge) shows some of the results that I checked.

I did find one niche within the niche, if you will, that has a little bit lower competition. The keyword amortization chart had an average KC score of 38 when I originally did this research. I checked some related keywords and confirmed that amortization chart had the lowest KC score. It also gets a good amount of searches at 6,600 in the U.S. and 8,100 globally.

Long Tail Platinum - amortization chart - keyword research

Long Tail Platinum - amortization chart - Competitor Analysis
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Again, this KC score has gone up slightly since I originally did this research. Today, when I click through to the Competitor Analysis screen for amortization chart, I see an average KC of 42. It is still a good keyword that Sam could go after on Financial Samurai. Results 4,5,6,7, and 9 all have KC scores under 40. I’m especially interested in results number 6 and 7. (Click on screenshot to enlarge) They are the lowest ranking sites, but likely made the top ten based on the fact that the exact keyword shows up in both the URL and the title. A high ranking site like Financial Samurai shouldn’t have any trouble at all beating out these sites for this keyword.

I suspect that the reason this particular keyword is less competitive in the mortgage niche is because it isn’t a very exciting topic to write about. Well, I’ve been reading Financial Samurai for a little over a year now, and I am of the opinion that Sam is one person who could write an interesting article on the topic. So that is my challenge to Sam. Write an article that has the keyword amortization chart in all of the suggested places as discussed for best SEO in my previous two posts (URL, Title, H2 Heading, Image ALT tag, WordPress Tag, etc). See if you can get it to rank on the first page of Google within a few weeks.

Say Sam takes up this challenge and gets his post up to number 4. Say he gets only 10% of the monthly clicks for this search term. That would be “only” 810 people per month visiting his site who weren’t visiting it before. That’s 810 new people each month who are going to see his affiliate link for Quicken Loans! I have no idea what his click through rates or conversion rates are for this affiliate. Using a keyword strategy like this may help improve these though. People who are searching for the keyword amortization chart are probably thinking about getting a mortgage or refinancing. By optimizing for a targeted keyword like this, he will likely be drawing in traffic that is more likely to convert.

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Readers: Do these examples help you better understand how powerful keyword research for blogging can be if done properly? Do you see how you too can use keyword research to effectively drive more traffic to your blog?

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.


21 thoughts on “Keyword Research for Blogging: Picking the Right Keyword”

  1. Fascinating stuff Matt! I can see the addiction of doing keyword research for sure. I’m glad I rank well for the term, “Financial Samurai!” Building up the brand has taken over three years and I plan to continue building it for as long as my mind will allow.

    Man, it’s going to be tough to write a sexy post about Amortization Charts! I definitely like a good challenge, so I’ll put it on my todo list.

    It’s interesting how two, 1-2 week old posts showed up on your initial screen, “How Much Savings Should I Have Accumulated By Age” and “What Should I Do Before Quitting My Job? 15 Things To Consider.” Does Long Tail pro just come up with random posts? Or was that a specific filter?

    Given the two posts are so new, the stats from Long Tail Pro should be statistically insignificant no? Is it up to the user/blog owner to input key words related to posts that s/he believes are good to then see how s/he can better optimize as a result?

    When you search for “how much savings should I have by age,” in Google, I’m curious to know if you see my post.

    Thanks again Matt! I still don’t do any SEO except for the basics, so I find this world fascinating.


    • Sam – Long Tail Pro doesn’t “come up with” any of the results. All of the data is pulled from Google, Google Adwords Keyword Tool and SEOMoz. Long Tail Pro just takes all of these results and puts them together and analyzes them. The top ten results you see in Long Tail Pro are the same top ten that Google displays. Why your two recent posts are there, I have no idea. Google is a mystery for sure. I know search results can vary if you are signed in to Google based on location and past searches. I’m not sure if this has an affect in Long Tail Pro – because you do have the option within Long Tail Pro to sign in or sign out of your Google account. I always keep it signed in.

      For “how much savings should I have by age,” you are number 1, 3 and 4 – with 3 different articles. Number 1 being your most recent. I’m showing zero monthly searches for that exact search term though.

      • Gotcha. Good to know about the search results. That is very random LTP or Google would include two of my most recent posts, when I’ve got hundreds of posts that are ranked well and driving traffic already.

        I’m surprised there aren’t any search for “how much savings should I have by age”. How about “how much savings should I have”? I think my newest post ranks well for that, and I know that is a very highly searched for phrase.

        • Sam – you can find this data yourself on the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool. I checked again, “how much savings should I have by age” gets nothing as an [Exact] match or a “Phrase” match. “How much savings should I have” gets 880 global [Exact] searches and 1,900 global “Phrase”. The difference between these match types is explained within the tool.

          You are currently ranking # 2 in Google for “how much savings should I have,” with only ahead of you.

          As far as the randomness of recent posts showing up in search results – my guess is that it might have something to do with Google’s most recent algorithm change. I don’t know for sure, but I think part of their focus is on more fresh content. This may be why old niche sites lost rankings to give way to sites with more recent and fresh content. Again, just a wild guess by one guy who is NOT an expert.

          • Darn Bankrate! Haha. Cool. Because savings is so fundamental to all personal finance, I do want to rank well for the term.

            I’m not going to worry about the details of exact match or phrase. Instead, I will write what comes naturally to me.

            Let’s out up your post this coming Monday shall we? I’ll upgrade your account so you can upload directly later tonight.

  2. So incredibly helpful Matt! I’ll now imagine that you are holed up somewhere doing nonstop keyword research whenever I read your posts.

    This SEO stuff fascinates me at this point. I always love a good puzzle.

    Question: what other keyword tools have you used and what sets Long Tail Pro apart? Forgive me if you have covered this in a previous post and just guide me to it.


    • I would have replied to this comment earlier, but I was busy doing keyword research! haha j/k

      I will probably cover your question at least briefly in my giveaway post on Tuesday this week. I’ve mostly just used the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Long Tail Pro actually pulls much of it’s data from there and combines it with other data to come up with better and more definitive results.

      I tried the free 10-day trial of Market Samurai. I found it to be pretty complicated and much slower. Check out this video that Spencer (Long Tail Pro creator) made comparing the two

      Market Samurai I hear is good and has more detailed results. I would say it is better for more advanced keyword searchers. Long Tail Pro is definitely simpler, easier to use and much faster.

      Those are the only tools I personally have experience with and by far the most talked about in the niche site community.

      Thanks for your question and watch for the giveaway post later this week.

  3. Great post Matt! I love the amount of detail you go into. Handy hints like this can really help with carving out a slice of Google love.
    Have you ever looked at Market Samurai? I have had a number of people tell me that it is the number one tool to use for keyword research. I downloaded a copy and it seems a little slow to me, but perhaps I just have a slow computer.

  4. I wish I had more time to do keyword research. It sounds like if I really got into it then I’d take an entire day just playing with the research!

    • And after you took that entire day, you would have your own system down. Using Long Tail Platinum, I can easily do keyword research for a blog post in usually less than 10 minutes.

  5. Wow, thanks again for such helpful information. I wish I had more time to devote to keyword research. Though, I know it’s something I need to find time to devote to it on a regular basis. I love the little bit of it that I do, it can be so analytical…which I love.

    • Yeah John – keyword research isn’t necessary for EVERY single post, if you’re talking about using it for blogging. It is wise to use for posts that you are trying to optimize though.

  6. Matt, I have been using Long Tail Pro for about 3 days and, like you, I can’t stop researching possible keyword terms! This has been a very, very useful suggestion. Unfortunately my cheap ass is trying out the trial version, so I don’t get access to the Beta feature with the KC score. This is forcing me to compare the PR, Page/Domain authority, and other factors to make an educated guess as to whether I could beat the SERP or not. But already I’m seeing how terms I thought would make good choices would have had extreme competition that I would have never had a chance to beat.

    • Cool MMD! I’m glad you’re giving it a chance, even if you are being a cheap ass! You know me from reading this blog early on – when I refused to use any paid tools – so I can totally relate.

      If you know a thing or two about what you are looking for while doing top 10 analysis, upgrading to Platinum isn’t totally necessary. I just love the ease and speed of looking at the KC score – and I completely trust how the score was developed based on Spencer’s years of knowledge and months of testing.

      I hope you’re finding some great keywords during your free 10-day trial! I’ll be watching your blog to see if I notice.

    • I am completely agree with Miss’C. In blogging, always need to use right keyword. For getting right keyword always need to use right SEO tool. Colibri Tool provides you right keyword for blogging.

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