Using Keyword Research to Grow Your Blog – Everything You Need to Know

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If you are a blogger and you aren’t taking advantage of keyword research and simple on page blog post optimization to grow your blog – you are missing the boat big time right now! Can you grow your blog without keyword research and search engine optimization? Of course. But why not learn to do some simple keyword research and a few easy optimization techniques to keep that targeted traffic flowing to your blog month after month after month.

I’ve actually written quite a bit on this site, in the past, about using keyword research for blogging. I’ve been using these techniques and tactics myself and seeing positive results. I have a background in both blogging and building niche sites – so I understand the power of utilizing good keyword research and optimization techniques quite well. In this post, I am actually going to bring together everything I’ve written in the past and create kind of an ultimate guide to using keyword research to grow your blog. I also want to explain why I believe that bloggers should be using keyword research for their own advantage – now more so than ever before!

Plus – to keep it interesting, I’ve actually reached out to several others in the internet marketing space who I know have extensive experience with keyword research. I wanted to get their thoughts on using keyword research for blogging. A few of them are big names that you will recognize, and a few you might not recognize. I’ve sprinkled their contributions throughout this post.

Google Search: Advantage Bloggers

Keyword Research to Optimize Your Blog Posts - Dumb Passive Income

I’ve been using keyword research and optimization tactics myself for a little over a year, both to try to rank single blog posts as well as entire niche websites. In the past, it was easier to rank an entire website around a specific keyword – especially if it was highly optimized in the proper way. Within the current state of Google, I’m now seeing some of my niche sites completely fall off in the rankings only to see single terrible blog posts at the very top of Google’s search results (proof in this YouTube video I created). This clearly shows me that bloggers have some sort of advantage when it comes to ranking in Google.

Analyzing my findings a little deeper, I realized that these blogs I’ve been seeing at the top of search results aren’t ranking just because they are blogs. In most cases, their positions in the search engine results pages (SERP’s) seem to coincide with both the authority of their pages and domain, along with a freshness factor that Google (allegedly) is giving precedence to. By the nature of the type of site that a blog is – an active blog is always kept fresh. If it’s been around for awhile and has built up a following, it likely has good Page Authority and Domain Authority stats. These are the statistics that stand out to me in the sites that I am seeing ranking towards the top of Google’s search results. (Check your own stats for free on OpenSiteExplorer – typically numbers above 30 are pretty decent)

This isn’t to say that other types of sites (like niche sites or other authority sites) can’t also have fresh content and good authority statistics. Blogs just tend to attain this status automatically, over time, due to the nature of the type of site they are. Thus they are easily ranking for certain keywords in Google, and in many cases they aren’t even doing it on purpose!

Side note: If you are building niche or authority sites – you may want to consider treating them like and making them look more like a blog.

What Is Keyword Research?

Which brings us to the importance of doing proper keyword research. Most everybody in the niche site space knows that keyword research is by far the most important step in building a site. Yet most bloggers probably don’t even know what keyword research is. In a nutshell, keyword research is just finding what people are actually searching for in the search engines and how often. The more important (and often overlooked) step in doing keyword research is analyzing the sites that are currently ranking on the first page (the top 10) of Google. You need to determine whether or not you think you can beat any of them and get your site or post on that first page.

You can do keyword research for free using Google’s Keyword Planner tool – but you really have to know what you’re doing as far as analyzing what you see there. I prefer to speed up the process by using a piece of very powerful software called Long Tail Pro. The guy who created Long Tail Pro actually did so to speed up his keyword research process for building niche sites. Here is what he has to say about using his tool for blogging:

Spencer HawsLong Tail Pro is definitely a great way for bloggers to increase the effectiveness of their blog posts. The software can help you quickly find keywords that are truly low competition, and therefore increase the reach of your content in the search engines. People are already trying to find your content via Google, but unless you are mentioning the right keywords in your posts, they might not find you. – Spencer Haws –

When I first obtained Long Tail Pro myself, almost a year ago, I immediately saw how powerful it could be if I used it to research keywords for single blog posts. Here is one of my first (and best) posts I ever wrote about it, including very detailed explanations and screenshots – Keyword Research to Optimize Your Blog Posts.

Long Tail Pro – The Fastest Keyword Research Tool

Long Tail Pro - Affiliate BannerSince I started using and promoting Long Tail Pro (affiliate link) nearly a year ago, one of the questions that people kept asking me was how it compared to Market Samurai. This was understandable, because Market Samurai was an excellent tool that dominated the keyword research space for several years. Without going into details here, I’ll just point you to the post I wrote in response to those questions I kept getting – Should You Get Long Tail Pro or Market Samurai? To boil it down, I got Long Tail Pro because it is much faster and far less complicated. On top of that, the Platinum upgrade for Long Tail Pro (which has a monthly cost) speeds up the keyword research process even more and enables those who don’t know much about keyword research to effectively analyze results just like the pros.

After writing my Long Tail Pro vs Market Samurai post, I was pleasantly surprised by who showed up in the comments section. Two of the leaders from the niche site space, both Justin and Joe from, stopped by to add their thoughts. This was very helpful and added credibility to what I had stated, because they had very extensive experience using both tools. I reached out to them to see if they wouldn’t mind contributing to this post about using keyword research for blogging. Here is the response I got:

Justin CookeWhile we advocate and use Long Tail Pro for keyword research on the niche sites that we build, there’s also a ton of value missed by bloggers in better optimizing their on-site SEO for search engine traffic.

While I think it’s better to write your content for your actual readers and subscribers, LTP helps you better understand how (potential) new readers look for information and allows you to sculpt the page to better capture that free traffic that will drive your subscribers.

One of the strategies we’re implementing using LTP at EmpireFlippers is through creating highly-targeted pages that act as “How To’s” and better explain what we do to new readers.  That way, we can publish content as pages that act like funnels to our content, but don’t distract or bore our more regular blog readers with some of the more basic content, tips, and strategies. – Justin Cooke –

Proof that Keyword Research for Blogging Works

I’ve written a couple of different posts on this blog in the past that showcase personal results that I’ve seen that prove that the keyword research tactics I use for blogging actually work. In one of them – How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog – Proof that Keyword Research Works – I compare actual results from my old blog (before I knew anything about keyword research) to current results from this blog (since I’ve been using keyword research).

That post is kind of interesting – but more interesting would be to show you an actual example. Note: this example will be relevant if you are reading this post near the time that I published it and may not be relevant if you are reading this in the future. In March of 2013, I wanted to write a post to promote Lending Club – an online peer to peer lending platform that I had been using. I did some quick keyword research with Long Tail Pro (Platinum) and found a great low competition keyword. Try punching the following into Google right now to see for yourself – is Lending Club legit?

I’ve been ranking on page one of Google pretty much since I published that single blog post. When I originally found the keyword, it had a KC score in Long Tail Platinum of only 23. Despite the fact that Dumb Passive Income wasn’t a hugely authoritative site yet (still isn’t), I was still able to easily rank for that keyword. It eventually climbed all the way up to the number one spot in Google, and is currently hovering around spots 4 or 5. Google Webmaster Tools tells me that 110 searchers clicked through to my site from this keyword alone in the past 30 days. This doesn’t even include all of the related long tail keywords that are bringing people in – things like:

  • is the lending club legit
  • is lending club legitimate
  • lending club legit
  • is lending club a legitimate company

I’ve been generating a ton of search traffic to my site over the past 6 months just to this single blog post. All because I took a few extra minutes to do some keyword research and optimize the post! And want to hear the best part? That post is still generating income through affiliate sales! I admit, it could and should be re-worked and updated in order to convert more of my visitors into affiliate sales. I’ve been meaning to do that for quite some time. But I have generated $240 in affiliate income from Lending Club just in the past 6 months – mostly from visitors to that single blog post.

Jon HaverIdentifying a low competition, relevant keyword that has some search volume only takes 2-10 minutes with Long Tail Pro. Considering I am investing 1 or many more hours into creating a great post it only makes sense to invest a little time to find a good keyword to target and get the most out of the article! – Jon Haver – Authority Website Income

Keyword Research for Optimizing New Posts

I think I’ve laid out and proven pretty well how effective keyword research and proper optimization can be. I really believe that the growth potential is endless if you properly optimize a post on your site for a low competition keyword that gets lots of searches. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out this quote from a fellow blogger and friend in the personal finance space…

MMD logoYou know how when you were a child you used to dig a hole in the beach and hope you’d find a buried treasure?  But you never found anything?  That’s kind of what it’s like when you write blog posts without doing any keyword research or paying attention to SEO.  You’re just hoping to find treasure, but your chances of success are pretty scarce.

Don’t just write a wonderful, helpful piece of advice and hope for the best.  You won’t be happy with the results.  Instead, learn how to leverage the system to your advantage and increase the chances that someone will find it the second they search for your topic.  You’d be surprised at how easy it is to get to the first spot in Google if you’re willing to pay close attention to what keyword you select and how you structure your content. – MMD – My Money Design

There are two ways that you could use keyword research to grow your blog when looking to optimize new posts.

  1. Write your post and then optimize it for certain keywords.
  2. Use keyword research to find specific topics to write about.

I could expand and elaborate on these points, but that would be an entire blog post. And it is! I wrote all about it here – How to Use Keyword Research for Blog Post Optimization. The one part that I will include in this post though is where to put your keywords for proper on-page optimization. This can’t be stressed enough and is vital if you want the search engines to find your site for certain keywords.

Where to Put Your Keywords for Proper SEO

  • In the post title – Is Lending Club Legit?
  • In the URL –
  • In the META description for the post
  • In the first sentence of the first paragraph (bold or italics if it makes sense)
  • In at least one sub heading with an H2 tag (Heading 2)
  • In 1% or less of the content (if the post is 700 words, use keyword at least a few times, but no more than 7)
  • In the last paragraph somewhere (bold or italics if it makes sense)
  • In the ALT tag of an image within the post (I usually make the Title tag and the image file name the same)
  • Add the exact keyword as a Tag in WordPress (unless it is already a Category) – Is Lending Club Legit

Now that you know the importance and power of keyword research, and also exactly how to use your keywords – you probably want further instruction for exactly how to find them. I’ll show you how I find keywords these days.

Quickly Find a Low Competition Keyword with Long Tail Pro

I’ve already given away one of the niches that I’ve targeted here on Dumb Passive Income in the past, so I might as well show you exactly how I use Long Tail Pro (Platinum) to quickly and easily find low competition keywords. Watch the video below to see how I am able to find a few great keywords in just a few minutes (or find the video here on YouTube).

Keyword Research for Optimizing Old Posts

This is one of my favorite tactics that I like to tell bloggers about. Almost every blogger starts out clueless, pours their heart and soul into producing amazing content – only for that content to never see the light of day and get noticed by anybody. Eventually, they start to build some readership and a following, but much of their awesome content is buried in their archives and never gets noticed or read.

There are a couple of different ways to identify and/or revitalize this content.

  1. You can simply research seed keywords for the main or general topics of one or more of your epic articles to see if there are low competition keywords you could be targeting better. When you find these keywords, simply go back and change the article slightly so that it is optimized properly. You will be purposely targeting keywords that are easier to rank for, but also updating the content which may play a role in the freshness factor that Google seems to use in determining rankings. I wrote a very detailed post on exactly how to do this here – How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog by Optimizing Older Posts.
  2. You can easily find keywords that your site is already ranking for and determine whether you think you can improve those rankings. This can be done by either going back to the posts that are currently ranking and making sure they are optimized in the best way possible. Or you can write a brand new post optimized with the same keywords you are already ranking for and interlink it with the post that is already ranking. There’s actually a really cool way you can take advantage of Long Tail Platinum to analyze the keywords your site is already ranking for. Again, already wrote that post here – Analyzing “What Keywords Do I Rank For?” with Long Tail Pro – Platinum


I hope this post has helped to show you exactly how powerful some simple keyword research and blog post optimization tactics can be to help you grow your blog. I agree with the sentiment that Justin touched on in his quote above – that you shouldn’t write your blog just for the search engines, but more so for your regular readers and subscribers. At the same time, I believe that it is possible to subtly optimize even those posts for certain keywords that will help drive traffic to your blog well into the future. In other words – engaging and connecting with your audience should be your main concern and goal. But growing that audience is not far behind. Using a keyword research strategy like I’ve laid out here is one of the best ways to attract free and targeted traffic from the search engines – month after month after month.

I also hope that this post doesn’t seem like one huge sales pitch for Long Tail Pro. However, I am a huge advocate for the software and I promote it for good reason. Yes -there are free ways to do keyword research, but they aren’t nearly as quick or effective. For me, Long Tail Pro has made a bigger difference in my business and blogging than any other tool I’ve purchased. I’ve stated before, and I’ll state it again – if I had to make a choice and I could only use one paid tool for my online endeavors, Long Tail Pro (Platinum) would be that one tool. It has completely changed and revolutionized the way I do everything as far as blogging and creating niche websites. And I’m not the only one who feels this way…

Josh EscusaLong tail pro has been a key factor in allowing me to rank hundreds of keywords at the top of Google. It’s saved me a ton of time and allowed me to find keywords that have literally made me thousands of dollars online. I wouldn’t build any site without it. – Josh Escusa – Form Your Future

Get Long Tail Pro Today


I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the information I’ve provided within this post. Do you have any questions? Is there anything you feel I haven’t covered or anything you would like me to elaborate on? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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.

About the Contributors

Spencer Haws is the creator of Long Tail Pro and he owns and writes on his very popular blog, Niche Pursuits. Spencer makes his full time living via his internet marketing endeavors. He inspires and helps others through the writing and teaching he does on his blog.

Justin Cooke (and his business partner Joe Magnotti) have built an online empire through the building and selling of niche websites. They run a site called Empire Flippers (formerly Adsense Flippers) which is not only a blog, but also a complete resource and marketplace for anything that has to do with building and buying/selling websites.

Jon Haver has had recent success with creating authority websites. He blogs about it and shares everything over on Authority Website Income. He’s also developing quite a reputation by positioning himself as an authority when it comes to using expired domains to help rank websites.

MMD as he goes by, is a personal finance blogger over at My Money Design. Every couple of weeks on his blog you will find updates on his latest endeavors with niche site creation. MMD really has keyword research figured out and he uses it to his advantage both for his niche sites, as well as for his blog posts.

Josh Escusa had a great deal of success in the world of niche websites before a Google update wiped out nearly his entire business. He took some time off, but now he’s back and blogging about what he learned and how he is using his knowledge over at Form Your Future.


Image: “Greenfield Park in Autumn” from Flickr by Indy Kethdy

Image: “The droids we’re googling for” from Flickr by Stéfan

12 thoughts on “Using Keyword Research to Grow Your Blog – Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Hey Matt, thanks for thinking of me for this post! Even though I lost the business I was working on last year, It would be safe to say that it wasn’t my keyword research that was at fault. I had been using bad anchor text and the quality of my articles and backlinks didn’t help.

    People that know me know that I don’t support anything that I wouldn’t personally use. This time around I’ve changed a lot of things, but I am still actively using Long Tail Pro. It’s one of the top tools out there and the best part is that Spencer is always working to improve it. It’s made incredible leaps in speed and in features over the past year and it’s still getting better.

    • Josh – thanks for adding in the bit about Long Tail Pro being constantly updated and improved. I should have mentioned that.

      It was my pleasure to include your contribution to this post. Thank You! I know you’re going to offer a ton of value on your new site as you allow us to follow along on your latest ventures.

  2. Thanks for inviting us over, Matthew…I see we’re in good company here!

    LTP is software we heartily recommend. I’ve been having a back-and-forth email conversation with a reader that continues to try to use Google alone to find keywords. Ugh…this is one of those pieces of software that’s a no-brainer if you’re looking for keywords. Just buy it…it’s worth it!

    • Justin – I’ve had that same conversation with people since I started using LTP. In fact, I myself refused to use any paid tools when I first started this blog. Wow – what a world of difference it has made!

      Thanks for your contribution to the post and for helping spread the word. Your presence is valued greatly over here and I really appreciate it!

  3. Matt,

    Well Done! This was a great way to get people in this community to collaborate and I’m glad to have been a part of it.

    I’m still amazed by how many people insist on pumping out blog post after post without any regard for keyword research, SEO (on page or off), or even a regular back-linking strategy. I’d love to believe that content alone is enough to earn you the top spots, but that’s just simply not the case and proven over and over again through expert blog posts (like the recent one on ViperChill). As intelligent as people like to believe that Google is, it is still a search engine and a piece of software that is bound by rules. The sooner you understand those rules and learn to play by them, the easier of a time you’ll have getting the results you’re hoping to achieve.

  4. I still am totally unclear how any of this can help someone get more website traffic. Not because it can’t or doesn’t but because it looks really freaking complicated.

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