Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find out exactly what your audience were reading, where they were going online, who they followed – you know, all the things that go to make up the avatar you’ve probably been told you should create for your ideal customer?
Actually, you can. It’s usually made out to be some sort of black mystery, but it’s really not complicated. It’s called
Keyword Research, and it’s the most important thing you can do to get your site visited: find the keywords that grab the attention of the people you’re targeting.
How do you do that?
Most people know about Google Keywords, which have their uses if you’re looking for variations on keywords you already know, but they lack imagination. All the answers you get for the word or phrase you’re looking up will be very similar to it. But Google Keywords has one great trick you can use.
When you look up a word there’s a box for you to enter the address of your landing page. If you put the address of one of your competitors’ sites instead, you’ll find out what keywords they rank for – and you can use them yourself. Keywords can’t be copyrighted (unless they’re registered, of course).
Another good source for keyword ideas is Pinterest. Look for the subject you’re thinking of writing about, and see what other people have used that’s got results. Ditto Wikipedia, other people’s blogs, and news articles. Best of all to see what’s being shared, where, by how many people, and in what languages, is Buzzsumo.com: it’s a very powerful tool, even the free version.
Google does have its uses, but it’s Google search you want, not the keyword tool. Again, look for the subject you’re considering blogging about and see what makes it onto the first page. You may find that the most popular ideas are a bit different from yours – a list, for example, or a “how to” guide, or a raft of images with captions, perhaps, rather than a narrative.
Read a few of them to get even more ideas. Don’t copy what they’ve written, obviously (that’s plagiarism) but there’s nothing wrong with borrowing ideas and writing your own version (that’s research).
Great, now you’ve found your keywords. How do you use them?
Don’t stuff the text with them, for a good start. That’s the quickest way to turn off your audience, as I’m sure you’ll have discovered for yourself once or twice! Use your keyword in the title, at the beginning of your text and in the last paragraph. (You know the drill: tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them it in full; and then tell them what you’ve just told them.)
Use variations in the main text, especially keyword phrases – the sort of thing people actually type when they look something up online. You very seldom search using just one word, do you? So, in the context of your subject, what would your readers be likely to use as search terms? Maybe some of the ideas you came up with earlier…?
They’ll probably appear naturally as you write – they belong to your subject, so it’s actually quite hard to write without using them. But you’re not playing Just A Minute: repetition is allowed, as long as it isn’t constant!
So there you have it: keyword research demystified.
P.S. Let me know if you have any other favourite methods – I’m always delighted to learn about new tools.