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You can always count on Google to keep on keeping things interesting with algorithm updates. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for smart keyword research for new bloggers to make money.
What is keyword research and why should you care?
Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing the search terms people enter into Google and other search engines. The insight you get from these search terms can help you determine your content and marketing strategies.
I got heavily involved in learning the ins and outs of internet marketing nearly six years ago. This followed numerous years working in traditional marketing agencies.
I thought I would be able to jump in with both feet and succeed with my diverse marketing background. Boy was I wrong!
I quickly learned how important these keyword research steps are to making money online. Don't forget to also read -> How to Find Profitable Niche (click to open in another tab)
I was helped by Nina who had a head start on me and had some mad internet marketing skills. You’ll have the benefit of her skills and our shared experiences as you learn about keyword research in this post.
Smart keyword research for new bloggers is the key to making money
There’s no path to blogging success without a basic understanding of keyword research. You could spend months learning everything there is to know about the subject.
Don’t worry though, your blog can start making money by following the basic steps you find here.
Blogging and affiliate marketing using these core keyword steps brought us enough income to leave our corporate gigs and travel the world with our laptops.
Whether you want a side hustle at home, a fresh way to make a complete living online or your own travel adventures, this info will help you get started the right way.
How important is keyword research for new bloggers?
It’s true search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved over the last 10 years. It’s pretty clear keywords that exactly match a person's search is no longer Google’s primary ranking factor.
Here is a basic definition of SEO:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of creating content for a blog post or website to drive organic website traffic from search engines.
You now optimize your content for searches your audience makes most often by conducting basic keyword research and then creating content that matches a user's intent.
So what does this all mean for a new blogger? What has gained importance over the exact search words used is the intent behind that keyword.
Keyword plus intent is the sweet spot
Google starts by linking up exact search terms and then their very busy bots look to determine if a blog’s content matches up with the intent of the person searching online.
This doesn't reduce the importance of basic keyword research for new bloggers. In fact, keyword research tells you what topics people care about and how popular those topics actually are with your audience.
The main term here is “topics.” By researching keywords with a high volume of monthly searches, you can identify and sort your potential content into relevant topics.
Then you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.
By researching keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you can tackle the questions most people in your audience want answers to.
How does intent impact keyword research for new bloggers?
This is the area where Google has been evolving its search capability over the past few years. Getting a handle on searcher intent is now a key factor in your efforts to rank high on search engines.
It’s increasingly important today that your blog posts address the underlying issue a searcher is wanting to solve. Simply matching the exact keyword a searcher used is still important but only part of the puzzle.
At this point, you probably want to know how this affects the type of keyword research new bloggers need to carry out.
The main thing to remember is keywords can have many different meanings. Because the intent behind a search is important to your ranking potential, you need to find ways to better understand the keywords you target.
Let's look at an example
Let's say, for example, you're researching the keyword "healthy juice" for some content you want to develop. "Healthy juice" can mean they want to make a healthy drink at home at that moment. It can also mean things like:
- healthy juice recipes for weight loss
- healthy juices in stores
- healthy juice brands
- healthy juices to drink
- simple juice recipes
- juicing recipes for health
So a searcher's intent behind that keyword can ultimately influence the direction of your blog post.
One way to help discover a user's intent in a keyword is to simply put this keyword into a search engine yourself and see what results come up.
SEO strategy and keyword research for new bloggers
Are you still with me here? Good… you are nearly half-way through the post. Let’s keep on keeping on!
What follows now is a step-by-step keyword research process to help you develop and then narrow down a list of terms to target.
Step 1: Make a list of topics important to your blog’s audience.
To start, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of overall buckets. Come up with 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business. These topic buckets will help you come up with some specific keywords later in the process.
If you are already posting content, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer persona or avatar
-- what general topics would your target audience be interested in and search for?
Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.
Now that you have a few topic buckets you want to focus on, it's time to identify some keywords that fall into those buckets.
These are keyword phrases you think are important to rank for in the SERPs (search engine results pages) because your target customer is likely conducting searches for those specific terms.
Let’s say you are blogging about drones and one of your topic buckets was “drones with camera.”
Take that topic and brainstorm some keyword phrases you think people would type in related to that topic. Some ideas include:
- best drones with camera
- drones with camera us
- cheap drones with camera
- remote control drone with camera and gps
- professional drone camera
- drone camera price
And so on, etc. This isn’t necessarily your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content that helps them.
Research keywords already being used to find your blog
Another good way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords are already being used to find your website.
You'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics to do this. Drill down into your website's traffic sources and sift through your organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.
Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have.
Step 3: Research related search terms.
If you're struggling to think of more keywords, go to Google.com and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword.
When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's first page results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to consider.
The monthly metrics part of the search data provided by Keywords Everywhere has become a paid service. You can still sign up to get their free list of keyword alternatives. You’ll find them on the right side of your search pages. This option can help a lot in this process.
Step 4: Check for head terms and long-tail keywords for each topic
Head terms are keyword phrases that are generally shorter and more generic – they're typically just 1 to 3 words in length, depending on who you talk to.
Head terms are usually searched more often and have strong retail, website and blog competition. This makes them difficult to rank for in the short term.
Long-tail keywords on the other hand are phrases with between 3 to 6 words or more. Long-tail keywords tend to be more specific.
These long-tail keywords make it easier to tell what people are truly searching for. Focusing here will help you write blog posts rank well with Google’s “searcher intent.”
It's important to have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll help give you a keyword strategy balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins.
Step 5: See how competitors are ranking for keywords.
Knowing what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for is a great way to give your list of keywords another level of review.
If your competitor is ranking well for keywords on your core list, it makes good sense to work on improving your ranking for those.
However, don’t ignore the keywords your competitors are ignoring. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on other important search terms.
Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide short-term wins and also help you make progress toward more long-term SEO goals.
Some tools you’ll need to research competitor keywords
How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for? You can manually search for keywords in an incognito browser (do a Google search about this if you need to learn more) to see what positions your competitors are in.
SEMrush and Ahrefs also have short-term free (or almost free) tools that will show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. You can also go to Ubersuggest for some free assistance.
We use tool called Serpstat to do our keyword research and to track keyword rankings. It is more affordable than SEMrush or Ahrefs and for that reason you get a bit less but still more than enough info for our needs.
Step 6: Use Google Ads Keyword Planner to edit your keyword list.
Now that you've got the right mix of keywords, it's time to narrow down your lists with more quantitative data. You can find a lot of paid tools to do this, but a good place to start is with free tools from Google.
Your first step is to sign up for Google Ads. Don’t worry, you don’t need to create or buy an ad right away. Here you’ll find a tool called Keyword Planner where you can get search volume and traffic estimates for your keywords.
Use the Keyword Planner to identify any terms on your list that have way too little (or too much) search volume. Don’t erase any search terms until you check out their history and future projections in Google Trends (trends.google.com).
This will give you an idea which terms have been good in the past or projected to be valuable in the future.
Way to go! You’re ready to succeed with keyword research for new bloggers
Follow these basic steps to own a list of keywords verified to be valuable to your business.
There is more that can be done, but these core steps will give you a great start in determining a great blog niche, gaining search volume and growing a customer list.