The most important part of optimizing your blog for the search engines is deciding on the right keywords. Good search engine optimization requires a set plan, and picking specific keywords for your blog as a whole and for individual blog posts will give you direction as you try to promote yourself.
So what is a “keyword”? It’s a word, phrase, or sentence that you predict people will search for using Google, social media, or some other search engine. But it’s not as simple as choosing keywords you think will attract an audience – as a blogger, you need to know the exact wording that Internet surfers are using. You need to know which keywords are stronger than others. And you need to know what your competition is.
There are lots of tools online that will help you determine the optimal keywords you need to use. Some of them are free, and some of them will cost you. If you are a beginning blogger, hold off on paying for any kind of service.
Start out with Google Trends and remember this tool forever! Google Trends will tell you the top Google searches done each day, which can be great inspiration if you want to write about current events in the future. It will also help you compare interest over time for any keywords you type into the search bar. I avoid using phrases or words that have been on the downward slope for over six months or are currently below 50 (the graph uses a scale of 1-100, with one being the lowest, to gauge interest).
Wordtracker is another tool that helps to measure the interest in a particular keyword, but it will also give you related phrases. This can help you to determine the exact phrasing you should use.
Search through hashtags and trending posts on social media to see what is popular there. Keep in mind that the results will be different on every social media outlet, but that shouldn’t deter you from using what is popular.
If you already have a blog, use your analytics to help with future posts. Analytics tell you the phrases that have directed visitors to your blog. It can also tell you what your visitors are interested in reading about.
Finally, do a simple Google search. Research the query results – these websites are your competition. Don’t underestimate what you can learn from your rivals’ success.
Choosing Perfect Keywords
The best keywords to use for posts are longer phrases. Try doing a Google search for one word, such as “rabbits.” Your search results will include news, movies, humorous websites, and thousands of other results you don’t care about. Searching for “how to buy a rabbit” gets you much more valuable information, such as “10 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Rabbit.”
The generic one-word keyword is terrible on its own, but does well when part of a question or answering phrase.
There’s a delicate balance between choosing keywords that are too popular and not popular enough. You want to ride on the coattails of a popular trend, but you also don’t want to get lost in the crowd. Whichever way you choose to go is up to you.
Where to Use Keywords
Keywords are necessary for your site as a whole, as well as individual blog posts. But be careful – too many and you will be flagged by Google as a spam site. A good rule of thumb is to only use your keywords three times in one blog entry, with one of those times being in the title.
That rule can be transferred to the rest of your blog, especially towards individual pages, but there is a little more leeway depending on how much content you have.
Good luck, and happy keyword hunting!
Gabbert, Elisa. “How to Target Keywords with Blog Posts.”http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2010/07/21/blog-keyword-targeting#.. (1 Oct. 2013).
Wang, Andrew. “How to Perform Keyword Research for Your Blog.”http://blogsuccessjournal.com/seo-search-engine-optimization/tags-keyword-analysis/how-to-perform-keyword-research-for-your-blog-2/. (1 Oct. 2013).