The Ins and Outs of SEO Research
“SEO” might just look and sound like three random letters next to each other, but it’s a term that every blogger needs to be familiar with. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s really important for driving traffic to your website and ensuring that people are seeing your blog posts. More traffic to your blog means that your blog is considered valuable; therefore, it will show up higher in searches.
To get a little bit more specific, SEO optimizes your content to make it stand out in search engines like Google. Using certain keywords can help your content come out on top when someone searches those keywords or variations of them online. It’s important to learn SEO practices because they are the best way to grow your audience over time and drive more traffic to your blog content.
Blog Tyrant said it best: “Learning SEO is an investment that will keep paying off over time.” Which is why you want to position your blog to be found at the top of the search results! So, how exactly can you do that? Let’s dive deeper into SEO and keyword research to learn more about how it works.
Consider Your Audience
Key words are very important in SEO research, but your audience is even more important. What knowledge does your audience want to gain from their search? What information are they actually looking for?
This is often called “searcher intent,” which means that search engines don’t focus on the exact keywords of the searcher, but on why they are searching. It’s so important to consider the why. Your audience wants answers, so don’t forget to consider their needs! You can find out what your audience is looking for through keyword research, which is why keywords are still essential to SEO practices.
Since its inception, SEO has changed a lot, and keywords are no longer the end-all-be-all of optimization. However, they’re still really important, and researching keywords will only benefit your blog’s success!
Simply put, keywords are the terms that you think your specific audience might use in a search. Therefore, using those keywords in your blog post will help the post appear in search results and help them find you. You can decide what keywords to use through brainstorming an outline for your blog post with headings, subheadings, and potential topics. Some keywords may come to you naturally through that process.
However, you’ll also want to conduct some keyword research on the general topic of your article.
...and do keyword research
Keyword research helps you determine the keywords you should actually be using -- the keywords that people (your potential audience!) are searching. In just a few steps, you can successfully conduct keyword research:
- Make a list of general topics that are relevant to your blog: Consider the topics you blog about frequently or that come up in conversations you have surrounding your blog.
- Come up with sub-topics a.k.a keywords: These are actually phrases that someone might search when thinking about the general topics you brainstormed in Step 1. You can also use tools like Google Analytics to determine which keywords are already bringing people to your blog and try to incorporate those, too.
- Don’t forget searcher intent: We already know that searcher intent is very important these days because keywords can have a lot of different meanings for different people, and in different contexts. You can test the searcher intent by searching keywords yourself and analyzing the results in the search engine. See what comes up!
- Research related terms: When you search something, the results also bring up related search terms at the bottom of the page. Use these for keyword inspiration.
- Keyword research tools: There are a lot out there that can offer new perspectives and keywords you haven’t even thought of. Try Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Ubersuggest. These tools can also help you find out which keywords your competitors are using -- this can give you ideas for how to improve phrases with similar keywords, but still stick to the ones that are individual to your blog, too. It will help you stand out in your audience’s searches, especially if your blog ends up at the very top of the search results. It puts you miles ahead of the competition -- literally!
These five steps offer you a whole lot of keyword ideas, which is great! However, you won’t want to use them all in one blog post. Narrow down your keywords by relevance, the authority of your blog, and the volume (or monthly search frequency) of the search term.
In order to be seen as authoritative, make sure to cite credible sources and provide useful information on your blog. Authority makes your blog valuable, which puts you higher up in the search results.
You will also want to have a mix of long and short keywords. The shorter ones can be one to three words, while the longer ones are usually phrases -- three or more words.
But not TOO many keywords!
Keywords are clearly important, and now you know the best ways to narrow them down and incorporate them into your writing. However, don’t use too many -- this is called “keyword stuffing.” You should incorporate it where it feels natural, but don’t force it, because search engines can tell. You probably won’t have to worry about this, though -- it will be pretty obvious if you’ve repeated the same word or phrase too many times!
Plus, if you’re a frequent blogger, you’re probably producing regular content within a certain niche or about related topics. You’re going to need those keywords, so save them up and incorporate them where you can down the road!
If your blog is attached to a physical business, Google Business is a great resource. Google Business helps your business to show up on Google Maps as well as in regular search results, so it’s easy to see why this is beneficial -- more presence in search results means more clicks and more traffic to your website.
Creating a Google Business page makes connecting with your audience easy and offers them the chance to read reviews (glowing ones!) about your business and even see photos if applicable.
The research phase is just the tip of the iceberg with search engine optimization. However, knowing how to conduct this research is a really great start, and getting the hang of SEO practices is far less complicated than most people think. It’s a learn-as-you-blog type of thing, but these best practices will be second nature to you in no time!