Keyword Research – How To Rank Your Posts Well

Doing keyword research and planning your blog posts in advance is essential to avoid writing posts which have no chance of ranking. The goal of keyword research for bloggers is to find topics to write about which stand the best chance of ranking ie. appearing towards the top of the first page, when you search on Google.

If your post ranks on page 2, you simply won’t get any visitors.

The more ranking articles you have on your website, the more traffic you will get.

The more traffic, the more sales you stand to make.

This article explains the part that keywords play in searching for things on Google or any other search engine. If you are new to SEO, Blogging and Keywords, you might want to refer to my beginners guide to SEO terms, where you can look up any terms that may be unfamiliar.

Table of Contents

    1. Whats On a Google SERPs Page?

    Some or all of these can appear on a SERPs (SearchEngineResultsPage) 

    •  Paid Ads: These are the Ads that win Googles Ad auction to be shown for this query, usually shown at the top and bottom of the pages
    • Organic Results: These are websites that contain the most relevant content to answer the query 
    • Video Results: If the query is easy to explain with a video, it could also be a YouTube channel that appears.
    • Shopping Result: Advertisers using Googles Search Network can choose the shopping Ad as an option see the example below. If the query is based on “Goods” then a shopping Ad may be shown.
    • People Also Ask: A list of similar queries 
    • Related searches: slight variations of your search

    Depending on which of the above appears in the top 10 results, for our search query, we  need to assess whether we can compete.

    Lets look at the process of using Google.

    Recent changes in Google’s algorithm have made big changes in what you will see.

    2. Know the Search Intent

    Google has to try to find what the user actually wants, find matches and present the MOST relevant content in the results page.

     In your search phrase, there are certain ‘triggers’ which determine the type of result you get back. Googles algorithm is being constantly updated by their engineers to give us better and more relevant results.

    Some intent is obvious, if you search for “buy Nike Sneakers” Google will return shopping results. If you are composing informational content, it won’t have “buy” in the title. So you are unlikely to be competing with Shopping results. Much more likely are words like “review” or “compare”. 

    3. Adverts or Free (Organic) Traffic – Which to Use?

    Organic Traffic is free, but it can take a long time to rank a site on that all-important first page of the SERPs.

    The organic results then are best suited to evergreen products which are always in demand.

    Ads are a paid service.  Advertisers set a maximum amount in an auction to bid for the keyword. Ads start working immediately after they go live.  So Ads are often used to best effect to scale a campaign for a short-lived or changing market.

    Google users still prefer the organic results in most cases, studies show over 9/10 searchers click on the organic results. So this shows that the searching public has more trust in Google’s organic results. It is Google’s stated intention to give the most relevant results for each search query.

    If you are hoping to build blog ‘assets’ as I advise, then Organic Search Traffic is the way to go and with an ‘evergreen’ niche. Think longterm. The articles on these blogs will be earning money for you, hands-off, for many years to come.

    4. Choosing the Right Key Phrases and Topics

    Ranking an article that you write starts with Keywords, Key Phrases or Topics.

    These phrases like the example “buy Nike sneakers” have statistics which you can see by using many keyword tools. Because they all use different databases, they all give slightly different figures but will give you some guidance.

    As an Affiliate Marketer, you can use Organic Search Traffic or Paid Ads Traffic and keywords are the key points of how you can get traffic (visitors) from Google’s search engine. So how do you find the best keywords?

    Do bear in mind that different niches have hugely different popularity

    The most obvious keywords for any popular niche are going to be difficult to rank for. For example in the Weight loss niche, the term “weight loss” is dominated by big players with high DR (domain rank), having huge numbers of backlinks. Competing with those is impossible in SEO terms for any new site and very expensive to buy ads.

    If your niche is Scandinavian Knitting Patterns… then the competition is going to be low and you will easily be able to rank your work.

    As a beginner in affiliate marketing, it would be advisable to stick with SEO and organic search, rather than advertising, it takes a lot of experience and a healthy bank balance to do ads well. So, build your blog by writing articles based on a keyword. For keyword read also “Topic”, Google has become very clever and can easily determine the niche and Topic of an article using its AI -Artificial Intelligence.

    For a brand new blog, life is even more complicated. Blogs with zero reputation, no links and only a little content are not yet TRUSTED by google. Until things like the amount of content added per week/month, the QUALITY of the writing and the AUTHORITY of the site are all established, the site will remain in a “Sandbox” and will receive very few visitors from Google.

    If the site is built consistently the traffic will slowly rise.

    So as you can see, the problems for new blogs and for popular niches can be quite a mountain to climb usually taking many months of work, but totally worth the effort.

    5. Using the Language of the Niche

    To find the INTENT behind a user’s Google search, use the fact that almost every niche has terms associated with it, that are peculiar to that niche. Some examples are:

    • Health: Blood Pressure,  Body mass index,  CT and MRI scans
    • Mortgages:  Agreement In Principle, Mortgage Rate, Repayment Mortgage
    • Finance: Compound Interest, FICO score, Asset Allocation, Stock Option

    Depending on where in the buying cycle your prospect is, they may have already seen offers that include these terms and so will be searching using these terms.

    Do your homework on them, include them in your keyword research, lookup :-

    Your-niche + glossary  eg. type in Weight Loss + “glossary”

    To find all the commonly used terms in a niche, then enter them into your keyword tool to find keywords with low competition, high search volume, and are well worth writing posts about.

    6. Go Long – Use Long-tail  Keywords

    Simply Add more terms to the popular keywords, to find ones that have some traffic, but are also fairly easy to rank in the SERPs.

    For Example:

    Weight Loss ==> Weight Loss for Active Women over 40

    By narrowing the search, creating a long-tail-keyword or phrase, you lower the competition, enabling you to stand a chance of getting an article to rank

    Once you have a track record, ie. You have some articles in Google’s index already, then you can become more adventurous, but to begin, choose terms that you know you can rank in the index fairly easily.  They may only have a small amount of traffic, but very little competition.

    The secret to starting a blog well is to choose low-competition keywords/topics and write articles that cover the whole topic well. I will present my own chosen method for finding these low-competition phrases later.

    7. KGR Keyword Golden Ratio

    This is Doug Cunnington’s method, it uses a KW (keyword) tool and it is a good way to be confident of ranking an article written for a specific term.

    You do need to apply some common sense with all such methods and don’t forget that the keyword volume tools are often wrong, sometimes phrases do in fact get some traffic even though the tools say zero.  All we are really looking for is consistent results.

    So do try all methods over a period of time to assess each one for yourself and for your particular niche.

    The KGR method uses the Google search operator term “allintitle”, in other words, the serps result where the exact phrase “how to stop moss growing in your lawn” appears in the TITLE of the article. You would type in – allintitle: stop moss growing 

    Looking at the result I can see there are 40 results that have that phrase in the title.

    Also, Doug limits the number of pages found to 250. After all, to stand a chance of ranking this article on a new site, you don’t want to be up against say 6000 other pages, do you?

    His formula then is KGR = Number of results/search volume   

    And the resulting ratio MUST be under 0.25 to qualify

    An example: How to build your biceps

    On the Ubersuggest keyword tool, the search volume is 110

    For a slightly different search term:

    On Google the search   allintitle: How can I build muscle without going to the gym     returned just 24 results, which is well within the 250 maximum, so the KGR is :

    24/210, = roughly 0.11 ….. perfect !

    Compare this with “ Walmart led desk lamp”   , all in title results 46    searches/month 720

    46/720  = 0.06   …. even better !

    Lastly Health and Fitness, a notoriously competitive niche

    For the phrase “how to build biceps” there were 1750 results and 2400 searches/month

    The results were well over 250 anyway, which rules this phrase out. The ratio 1750/2400= 0.73  which is well over 0.25 so this rules it out too.

    Let’s try modifying it to  “how to build biceps without weights”  all in title results= 24  searches/month =590

    24/590 = 0.04 …. which is a good ratio, but 590 is well over the 250 limit. As it is a tough niche though, it may be worth pursuing, depending on what the competition’s websites look like and how established your site is. If they only have short articles with low numbers of back inks, then consider it.

    So this method is worth considering. If you have a KGR nearer the limit of 0.25 or even just over, the going might be a bit tougher, but if you’re confident you can write a good appealing, readable article, go for it!   Better to have something that ranks eventually than waste a potentially good keyword.

    8. The Google Autocomplete Research Method

    This is my preferred method and utilizes the auto-suggest feature in Google’s search bar.  It is a fairly long process when you are looking for topics to write on and your blog is new. The ideal situation would be to find no competition or articles appearing which do not answer the search query.  ie. are not fully on-topic or not relevant.

    Auto suggest . As you type your query into the search bar, Google will auto suggest search terms and the  MOST popular will appear at the top of the list

    Checking the SERPs pages

    Now – in a new tab, open up the SERPs page for each of these results, that you feel might make a good article base, starting at the top. 

    Click on each of the pages, #1  to # 10 from Google’s results page and ask yourself ” does this article answer the exact query asked? You are basically assessing the “keyword difficulty” of each one, manually. Many keyword tools give a KW difficulty score, Ahrefs’ tool and Ubersuggest both do, but the figures are sometimes subjective and non-standard. So you really are better off, checking this manually.

    Several possible outcomes here: 

    1. The site is huge and has massive authority like CNN, trying to compete with these is not worth your time, so go on to the next phrase in the list and repeat
    2. The article is NOT on topic, so if I write an article that really answers the query, it should beat this one. Save it
    3. The article is poorly written and is short or does not fully cover the subject in the query – so put this on the short list.
    4. If the article is purely commercial, ie. a product sales page, the decision to write a competing page would depend on whether your own site is commercial or is information based
    5. The article may be on-point, but the site has low authority and you think you can write a bigger and better article in more depth, to beat it.

    Next Stage – go through the Alphabet

    If you now add the letter “a” to the end of the search query,  it will come up with results starting with letter a.

    Continue with b, c, d …… until you have copied every good keyword phrase into a list

    To shorten the length of time spent going through the whole alphabet using the  Google Autocomplete method, there is a tool that has been around a long time but is little known.

    Unlike most keyword tools it is neither expensive nor does it have a monthly subscription to pay.

    If you want to see all the keyword tools and a description of their individual strengths, go here

    If you want to check out my favorite,  valuable, time saving and inexpensive Keyword tool go here — Keyword Researcher

    A Useful Variant to try

    If needed, you can take this to another level using a method borrowed from the weird website “Answer the Public”.  They present these and many more pre and post-scripts to the basic phrase that you typed in.

    Just add the terms “who, what, why, when, and where”,  in front of the autosuggest list of phrases, so the term “SEO tools” becomes “who SEO tools” and so on

    9. Check Out the Related Searches

    At the bottom of a SERPs page, Google will list a number of RELATED searches (topics/subjects/keywords). These may be useful to add into an article as a sub-topic, or may suggest another future article

    Answer the Public

    In addition to the Related Searches in Google’s SERPs , The Ideas on this weird site are pure gold.

    It is a pay-to-use software, but you can do a few free searches each day. NOTE: there are more keyword research tools some of which are completely free here

    The tool basically returns a HUGE number of questions with various modifiers like is,  are, can, how, what, when, where, who, why, will, for, prepositions like for, is, are, near, to, with, without, and comparisons  – like, and, or, versus, vs, and lastly an alphabeticalised list of add on terms similar to  Googles search suggestions,  which appear as you type your query into the search bar in Google.

    Once you have the list ( although initially presented in a circular graphic way it is also available to download as a csv-file in tabular form), you can then sort through it on a spreadsheet and apply the best set of keywords in your keyword tool to find the search volume and get some clue as to the difficulty to rank.

    Here is just a fraction of the returned phrases, after I loaded them into my keyword tool to get volume data

    KeywordMonthly VolumePaid Competition
    how to build biceps without weights or pull ups10Low
    how to build biceps without weights reddit0Low
    how to build arms without weights90Low
    how to build big biceps without weights10Low
    how to strengthen arms without weights70Low
    can i build biceps without weights0Low
    how can i build biceps without weights0Low
    how to build biceps without weights590Low
    can you build biceps without weights0Low
    how do i build biceps without weights0Low
    can you build arms without weights0Low
    how to build biceps without weights590Low
    how to build biceps without weights or pull ups0Low
    how to build biceps without weights reddit0Low
    what exercises build biceps without weights0Low
    how to build biceps without weights or pull ups10Low
    how to build biceps without weights reddit0Low
    how to build arms without weights90Low
    how to build big biceps without weights10Low
    can i build biceps without weights0Low

    I’m sure you’ll agree, some of these have enough value to warrant spending some time creating really good content around them. You can collect related phrases together which might form the basis of an article, covering each topic.

    Valuable sources of Keywords and Data for your research

    Answer the Public

    Shopping Sites Ebay and Amazon search bar

    Pinterest Search

    YouTube search bar

    Quora: Look for questions on your subject, you can use search within Quora

    Ask your own email list!

    Find the Authority websites in your own niche

    Reddit,  search subreddits in your niche

    Find-a-Forum:  useful to find huge numbers of forums on topic.

    Write about your own experiences

    BuzzSumo search, a paid tool  

    Keyword Sheeter: this just churns out very high numbers of keywords based on Google’s suggested terms, it can be very useful if you have loads of time to go through it.

    Research Methods:

    These are divided into two: A way to get an initial list of candidates ( eg the Competitor and the Seed Methods below )  Followed by a process to analyze and sort them

    The Competitor Research Method:

    You can gain a lot from putting the name of your competitor’s niche site into a keyword tool. It will reveal the keywords your competitor is ranking for and many keywords that can be listed, switched around, and used for the titles of your next blog articles. Then apply the Analysis Process, below

    The Seed Keyword Method:

    Find the best keywords in your niche, with plenty of monthly search volume. Use it to generate a big list of keywords using your keyword tool.

    The Analysis Process

    After you have a good list of kws from either of the above methods, ideally use the best and most expensive commonly used tool – AHRefs. With this, you can filter out and find keywords with low kw difficulty ( difficulty to rank in Google ) and good search volume.

    Other tools like Ubersuggest can also be used to find these golden kws with low SEO kw difficulty. Although Ubersuggest is a paid tool, up to 5 searches a day are possible for free.

    Assessing and Checking Keyword Difficulty

    This is the essential part of the methods above. Take your keyword and Google it. Below I Googled “bulk email sender free“. Now, look carefully at the SERPs. Positions 1 to 10. Open each page in your browser and look at the quality and length of each site’s article.

    From the  results in Ubersuggest , it looks like “bulk email sender free” might be a good article to write its kw SEO difficulty is just 22 ( top line above )

    Within Ubersuggest you can open up the SERPs and check for yourself the content quality for this kw.  Looking at the mailgun result ( number 4 position ) their article has less than 500 words and even though their domain Authority is high , the number of backlinks to this page is very low (1)

    You  only need a couple of the SERPs result to be weak, like this, to make an opening to beat the competition with a 2000 to 3000 word article with many images and if possible graphical data, to have a good chance.

    Even without Ubersuggest. There is MOZ bar – a browser extension, which shows Page Authority, Domain Authority and Link count. It isn’t ideal as the metrics are based differently to Ubersuggest, but once you have it installed in your browser and use it daily, you soon get an understanding of the relative values.

    11. Brainstorming new topics once you have some results. 

    The methods so far, of finding keywords or rather topics for your blog, can all be used from the very first page you create on a new blog. 

    What about a little later on, when you have some ranking pages which send some traffic from Google.  

    You can research your best traffic pages and write more on that particular topic. It makes sense, it’s logical that if Google is ranking a piece well, just write more in a similar vein.

    Note well that I said BRAINSTORMING above and not research more with keyword tools: why? well to some extent you DO want to cover all the important bases of your topics, that all your competitors do. But you should go DEEPER into each topic. 

    For Instance, with a blog on Cooking, Restaurants, and Food, have you covered all the recipes, all the cooking methods, and all the international variations that make dishes special in Indian restaurants or Italian restaurants?

    Articles you wrote some time ago describing basic things will and should be opened up further: eg.

    • does the cookware add anything to the flavor?
    • does the handling of the pastry or bread add something that a machine processor does not?
    • does the serving bowl add anything to the flavor
    • how about the temperature when served? 

    If you just used a keyword tool, you’d just have the same results as your competition, by examining your own work, especially ranking articles and brainstorming, you get away from the competition and create almost endless new avenues for articles. 

    Zero search volume. 

    You may find suggestions that when researched with a Keyword tool will give zero search volume. Google tells us that a third of searches in Google’s search engine are NEW searches anyway! so how could there be any volume reported?

    Do not be put off by zero, write it anyway. Maybe not initially when you start a blog but once it’s established and out of the sandbox, start to think DEEPER, not necessarily wider.

    12. Tackling Higher Volume keywords

    When the initial phase of blog building is done – where your prime objective is to get some ranking pages, even if they have very low traffic volume, the mid-phase sees a change in focus. 

    Now phrases with some competition should be tackled. The aim is to target phrases with higher traffic volume. 

    At this point, it is advisable to use a keyword tool, that gives search volume. A list and a brief explanation of the main features of most of the  popular ones can be found here 

    If you want to know which one I use, it’s great value and does exactly what I need to enable me to write articles that rank well

    Conclusion – Don’t neglect Keyword Research

    Keyword research is very important if you are not going to waste a lot of time and effort producing content that does not rank. You are going to need at least 50 to 100 articles ranking to give an income from a blog,  depending on your niche. It is definitely worth producing a list of future article titles, which have been checked for good ranking potential.

    Don’t entirely rule out writing articles based on zero volume topics, sometimes going deeper, perhaps with a short article, based on a related subject can be the winning formula.

    Once you have your keywords and have written your articles, use SILOs to organize your site, this technique will shorten the period you spend in the “sandbox” and will enable you to rank for more competitive terms.

    Use Your Time Efficiently

    Focus on writing, in all the time you have available, even if that time is fragmented through the day. Keyword research, however, takes time and may involve multiple tools which is not ideal for short or fragmented work periods.

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