I know, I hear you. Running a blog is already a frighteningly time-consuming endeavour and you don’t need anything else to add to your ‘to do’ list. Another SEO marketer telling you all the things you should be doing and making you feel bad about not having the time to do said things. Then you feel like a failure for not being a digital marketing whizkid whilst trying to create stellar content, maintain an acceptable level of social media presence and probably also hold down a full-time job, pay the bills, have some kind of a social life, eat and generally stay alive.
Phew. Just me?
But please stay with me, because I’m actually trying to save you time with this one. So let’s get to the point: why is keyword research so important and how will it rescue some valuable time for you?
Planning without the research
When we are strapped for time, it can be all too easy to just write about the first article that pops into our heads. Or even if we are working from a content plan, the chances are that not enough research has gone into it from an SEO perspective.
Sure, we can drive a considerable amount of traffic to our blogs through other channels like social media. But there is so much opportunity and potential to be realised through leveraging search engine users. When we write posts, we are hoping to provide something helpful, valuable or inspiring. More often than not, we are answering a query or providing a solution to a problem. And where do people go to ask these questions and find answers to these problems? They go to Google (or Bing if you’re… different).
It therefore follows that in order to get the most out of this huge potential of untapped readers to your blog, you need to be answering the right questions.
Content for the sake of content
Without knowing how many people are actually searching for a certain query, you’ll be planning content blindly. As a result, you will simply be writing content for the sake of content, without knowing if anyone actually wants to read it.
Ain’t nobody got time for that. The thought of putting hours into writing an article only for virtually nobody to read it because, quite frankly, nobody cares, is a pretty heart-breaking one.
I’d just like to add a caveat that if you run your blog solely for the purpose of writing what you want to write about then there is nothing wrong with that. This post is for those looking to really grow their blog and their audience – essentially by providing what the people want. It doesn’t mean you have to completely sacrifice writing about what interests you. Because the chances are that if something interests you, it probably interests lots of other people too. This is more about figuring out the best way of positioning an article, the specific areas to cover and how to write the titles and metadata.
What is keyword research?
Probably should have started with this one. But hey, it’s done now.
Keyword research is all about finding the keywords or phrases that users are typing into the search engines. First you need to identify a selection of potential keywords around a given topic and then you need to identify the search volumes.
If you really want to geek out, you can also take into consideration the PPC metrics and the competition or keyword difficulty. But you’ll need some paid tools for that kind of data (more on this in a bit) so probably not worth it at this stage.
As bloggers, we are more likely to be interested in a type of keyword called ‘long-tail’ keywords. These are essentially longer queries that users type into search engines. They are usually ‘informational’ in nature, meaning that the user is looking for information, rather than looking to make a purchase or find a particular brand. These types of keywords often have lower search volumes but are more specific, meaning that if you do it right, you can really engage people with your posts.
As an example, the keyword I’m targeting with this particular post is ‘why keyword research is so important’. It has a monthly search volume of 70 in the UK, meaning that every month approximately 70 people are searching for ‘why keyword research is so important’. As this article directly answers that question, I’m more likely to drive genuinely interested and relevant traffic to my blog.
The chances are that whoever is reading this article has a general interest in SEO. To leverage that, I’ll add in a few call-to-actions to lead them onto further articles around the topic. Like this one all about 10 quick SEO tips you can implement right now. See what I did there? Totally shameless.
How do you do keyword research?
The million dollar question. As SEO is what I do for a living, I’m lucky enough to have access to some swanky tools like SEMRush to do all the magic. Unfortunately tools like this cost a small fortune. All is not lost though because there are a number of free tools you can use to get all the information you’ll need. I’m currently writing a separate post on these free keyword research tools, as I realise I’ve already rambled for long enough. So stay tuned for that!
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of keyword research and why it is so important. It may take a bit of time initially but once you’ve done the research, you’ll have a killer content plan that is super targeted and perfectly geared towards SEO. That in itself will save you a tonne of time in the long-run, as you won’t be wasting time creating content that simply won’t be seen.