How to Do Keyword Research
for Your Blog

The Beginner's Guide to Finding The Right Keywords


by and FirstSiteGuide team (Last updated: December 01, 2017)

There are many critical elements that must be considered when starting a blog, and to be successful, you need to make sure that all of them are done right. One of those essential elements is keyword research, as choosing the right keywords to focus on is one of the main ways to increase the number of views that your blog will get.

A lot of new bloggers don’t even consider doing keyword research, and because of this, they struggle to get visitors on their blog, no matter how hard they try. Others simply add keywords that are “the most popular, ” but they don’t understand that if a keyword is very common, it will not help, but send your blog to the 15th page of search results.

Skipping over this part is not an option, as you won’t be able to grow your blog as fast as you want to, so what can you do? Simply put, you will have to do keyword research to find keywords that will work well and help your blog rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It's not a simple thing to do, as all blogs and target markets are different.

You will need the right tools and the right knowledge that will help you start this process correctly and go through it smoothly. This guide will provide tips on properly structuring your keyword research, and you can adjust it to your specific needs.

First of all, you must understand why you need a good keyword strategy for your blog. Keywords are an extension of your organic reach, meaning that they will allow you to attract readers with a genuine interest in what your blog has to offer. Of course, if you create a good keyword strategy that isn’t misleading.

Organic traffic is the most valuable asset for your blog, and you need to have as much of it as possible to grow your blog.




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Brainstorm to find niche topics
(seed keywords)


Without thinking about anything else, start your niche decision process by writing down all the things that interest you. These can be personal interests or professional interests.

  • Start by thinking about the things you enjoy doing, or would enjoy doing if you had the chance. For example, you are an amateur photographer. Photography blogging could be a great niche. You can share your photos, your detailed knowledge, or your experience with camera technology.

  • Next, think about the things you would enjoy learning. For example, you’re interested in taking up cooking classes. Even if you don’t have the time or budget to start cooking classes, you can start up a food blog where you analyze recipes you find online. And discuss how to choose perfect ingredients, and weigh the benefits of organic versus GMO ingredients.

  • Finally, think about the things you are already diving deep into. For example, let’s say that you are an adult that is going back to finish your degree in college. You’re going to do a lot of research on on-campus versus online degree programs, what university to choose, how to get back into the swing of studying, and so on. These are great topics for a niche blog about higher education.


Picking a niche is a challenging process. But, during this exercise, you will get a better feeling for the topics that resonate with you. The ones that you are most passionate about are the best candidates for your niche.

For example, let's say you are starting a blog about golf. The first keywords come to your mind that you would use in Google search:

  • golf for beginners

  • golf tips

  • golf swing

  • golf clubs


These would be your seed keywords, broad topic ideas. Next, you will have to find more specific keywords that offer attractive opportunities.

Recommended reading: How to Choose a Niche for Your Blog (Step-by-Step Guide)

Using Google Keyword Planner to find keywords

Find core keywords and gather search volumes

Using Google Keyword Planner to find keywords


The Google Keyword Planner will be of great help when you start creating a list of keywords that you could potentially use for your blog. This tool is handy, and it can help you quickly create a large keyword list.

Login or create a new account to enter Google Keyword Planner tool.

adwords

You will see three different options under "Find new keywords and get search volume data." Select the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category” tab.

search keywords

This is a bread and butter tool that you will use to generate your keywords ideas.

Once you open the tool, you will see the list options. Most of these options are preselected, and you don't have to worry about them. Let's go over options that will help your keyword research.

Keyword Research

Your product or service: This is where you enter “seed keywords, ” and this is the primary field you will use. You can enter one or more keywords here.

Your landing page: This is primarily for Adwords users.

Targeting: This option relevant to switch the country, language and search engine that you’re marketing on.

Customize your search: Here is how Google explains this option - "Filter your keywords by historical statistics, hide keywords already in your account, and include or exclude certain keywords. Click the pencil icon to customize these settings."

Date range: You can enter a date range to see average monthly searches for a given period.

Let's enter "seed keywords" (golf tips, golf swing, golf clubs) that we used in the example above and look at the results.

Monthly searches

You will get results for selected keywords and also relevant keywords ideas. Let's look at the each area in this screen.

Search Terms: These are the keywords you entered.

Keyword (by relevance): The list of keywords suggested by Google.

Avg. monthly searches: Number of searches interval, not a very accurate indicator of search volume. (We’ll show you how to get accurate search volume data below).

Competition: This indicates the number of advertisers bidding on that keyword, used for AdWords. Useful to evaluate how competitive is the keyword.

Suggested bid: Great way to get the idea of monetization potential of the keyword.

Now, you can download the list with keywords ideas to sort the after.

Download the list with keywords

Another useful option you can use with Google Keyword Planner is "Ad group ideas." You will get an extended list of ideas to explore.

List of ideas

Click on one of the ad groups to see what's inside.

Ad groups

You will see what keywords are included in that group.

Included keywords

You can also download all these keywords and add it to the list.

You have more tools that you can use to find more keywords ideas. Some of them are free, freemium, or paid. We believe that by using Google Keyword Planner, you can get a list of keywords ideas that would be more than enough to explore. But in case you want to check other tools here is the list of the most popular:

Ahrefs keywords explorer
Moz explorer
Semrush keyword search
Keywordtool.io
KWFinder
Wodstream

Using Google Keyword Planner to gather search volumes


As we mentioned, earlier, Google Keyword Planner will show you the range of monthly searches (ex. 1k-10k). You can get exact search volume for specific keywords if you are running active Adwords campaign (paid advertisement). But, even exact search volume fluctuates, and Google will show the estimated average number of searches. It's helpful to see the exact number of searches however there is nothing wrong with using ranges to choose the keywords.

Let us show you how you can pull out the exact search volume from Google without creating Adwords campaign.

First, pick the keyword from the list of suggestions and click add to plan.

Add to plan

You will see Your plan widget on the right side.

Plan widget

Put some high number (ex. $1000) in "Enter the bit" field, look at the number of "impressions" this is how many people search for this keyword every day.

Imppressions

Now, if you multiply that number by 30, you will get a legit number of searches per month. The trouble here is that you will have to perform the same process with each keyword you want to target. But, let us repeat there is nothing wrong with using estimated ranges (1k-10k) of search volume if you don't want to go through each keyword.

Using paid tools to gather search volumes


As we mentioned earlier, there are some paid tools available online. And you can use it to find keywords and check search volumes. These tools would show you numbers based on the algorithm they use, and it will be estimated figures.

For example, here is what you get if you try Ahrefs keyword explorer.

Ahrefs keyword explorer

As you see these numbers differ from what you get with Google tool but you get the rough idea of the search volume.

More tools are available, and you can check it from the list provided below.




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Understand the importance of long-tail keywords

Before we get to the part on how you can determine the value of your keywords, first you must know which keywords are the most valuable and why it’s all about long tail keywords. It is true that you can choose keywords which have from 500 to 5,000 searches per day. However, these big terms account for less than 25% of the searches on the whole web.

Demand curve

Over 70% of keywords people search for are located in the “long tail” search. This long tail area has millions of searches that can happen a couple of times on any day, but these searches make up most of the daily searches.

Let us describe the three different categories that keywords usually divided to: head, body, and the long tail.

  • Head: These are single-word keywords with huge search volumes (for example, “golf” or “food”). These terms are broad, and people might be searching for various things using these keywords (for example, someone searching for "golf" might be looking for golf classes, a golf clubs, or rules of the game).

  • Body: These keywords are 2-3 word phrases that get decent search volume (1,000 to 2,000 searches per month) and are more explicit than the head (for example, "golf lessons" or "food classes").

  • Long Tail: These keywords are 3 or 4+ words long and are very specific (for example, “cheap golf lessons for kids" or "food classes for Japanese cuisine"). These terms don't have a lot of search volume, but statistically, they make up the majority of searches online.

As a rule of thumb, when you choose Body keywords and optimize your content around them you will usually rank for related long tail (4-8 words) keywords. And that's how you get natural traffic to your website.

How to find long tail keywords

The easiest and probably the most efficient way to find relevant long tail keywords is to use Google suggestions. Let us show you exactly how you can do it.

First, when you type selected keywords into Google search, look at the auto suggestions.

Search google

Second, when you perform the search scroll down to the results page and look at the "Searches related to....." suggestions.

Search results

You can perform this technique with different variations of keywords and pick terms that are most suited.

You can also use different tools to mine long tail keywords, here are few that we recommend: Soovle and Answerthepublic.

Check what keywords competitors rank for


That is one of the effective advanced tactics you can use to find right keywords within your niche. This option offered with paid tools such as Ahrefs site explorer and Semrush.

As an example, we will demonstrate how to check your competition with Ahrefs. First, pick a domain name (URL) of the website you want to check. In our case, we will check golfdigest.com website.

Open Ahrefs Site Explorer tool and enter the URL of the domain you want to check.

Site explorer

You will get in-depth details of that website including backlinks profile and search traffic. By clicking on "Organic keywords" section, you can see rankings of this site and keywords ideas.

Organic keywords

This exercise will help you to find more keywords and determine what keywords you should go after.




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Evaluate competition and difficulty


To further evaluate the keywords ideas you will have to look how competitive they are and how difficult it will be to rank for these keywords.

You can make an educated guess with Google Keyword Planner tool by looking into two parameters: Competition and Suggested bit.

Bid

We described these two items above but let's look at them again.

Competition: This indicates the number of advertisers bidding on that keyword, Low, Medium, and High. Useful to evaluate how competitive is the keyword.

Suggested bid: Great way to get the idea of monetization potential for the keyword. But also will give you an idea of how difficult it might be to rank for these keywords.

With the data from Google, you can make an educated guess. If you want to get a deeper understanding of competitiveness and difficulty of the keywords, you will have to use a paid tool such as Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

Run the report for specific keywords and click on "Having the same terms" tab.

Here is how this report will look like:

Having the same terms

Here is how Ahrefs measure KD: "Keyword Difficulty is an estimate of how hard it would be to rank in Top10 Google search results for a given keyword. It is measured on a nonlinear scale from 1 to 100 (low difficulty to high difficulty)."




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Determine the money keywords


If one of your goals is to make money online, it's important you select the commercial intent keywords. These keywords can be divided into three classes:

Buy Now keywords


These are keywords that people use before making a purchase.

Here are words that tend to be part of these type of search queries:

  • Buy

  • Coupon

  • Discount

  • Deal

  • Shipping

Product keywords


Product Keywords are searches that focus on a particular product category, brand name, or service. People using these phrases are in early buying stage.

Product keywords tend to include:

  • Review

  • Best

  • Top 10

  • Cheap

  • Affordable

  • Comparison

Informational keywords


The bulk of keywords online are "Informational keywords." It's natural for people to look for information before going into the buying process.

Information keywords tend to include words like:

  • How to

  • Best way to

  • Ways to

  • I need to

Recommended reading: How to make money blogging




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Available keyword research tools


We've mentioned some instruments in this guide, but here we will give you the full list of tools you can test when doing a keyword research.


Conclusion

Once you’ve done all of the things mentioned above, you can set your keyword strategy in motion, but this doesn’t mean that your work ends there. A good keyword strategy requires an adequate follow-up, which includes monitoring and tweaking things constantly.

These are the essentials you need to know about creating a proper keyword strategy for your blog. Remember that choosing the correct keywords is essential for a blog to succeed, but this is just one of the aspects and you cannot neglect other important things.