Out of all the questions that I’ve gotten about blogging, the one “How do I find the best keywords for my blog post?” surprised me the most. Simply because I am NOT a keyword expert. But I realized that I have, actually, learned a lot about keyword research. So I figured I would share exactly what I do when I plan a blog post. Maybe it will work for you too!
I hit this topic lightly during the “Blog Post Checklist,” but this post is much more in-depth.
So, exactly when and how do I choose keywords?
~~If you’re just starting out on your blogging journey, check out my post “How to Start a Successful Blog: The Ultimate Guide.” It has everything you need to know! Also check out my page dedicated solely to “Blogging Resources for a Successful Blog.”
1. Choose your keywords before writing
First things first. Before I even tell you HOW to pick keywords, I need to tell you something important. You should start worrying about keywords before you even write the post.
This might seem weird. After all, you have a topic. But before you write 1,000 words and then have to go back and work in keywords, start smart. Figure out your keywords first and then work them in naturally.
Not to mention, as we hit below, you’re going to have more than one keyword.
2. Realize there is not just one keyword
Another thing to note when you start searching. You’re not aiming for just ONE keyword. You’re going to have your “basic” keyword…one or two words that you will hit multiple times.
You’re also going to have a few long-tail keywords. Phrases related to your keyword, but that you will work in naturally. Keep this in mind when you start searching. This will make more sense below as we go through our actual searches.
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3. Mangools (or other keyword tool)
My very first stop is always Keyword Finder by Mangools. I love, love, love this keyword planner. Not only can you search for keywords, but it pulls up related keywords, keyword search volume, AND- this is big- tells you how hard it is to break into the field.
If you’re lost on even figuring out a basic keyword for your post, ask yourself “what problem are you solving?”. It can be how to make a certain recipe. How to get stains off walls or what to wear to the beach. Start there and then narrow your keywords down.
Look at the image below. Before starting this post, I went and searched the term “keywords.” I’m not planning on ranking. I just wanted a good post that had relevant examples for you.
As you can see, related keywords popped up. I noted both ‘keyword planner’ and ‘keyword research.’ (They’re circled in red in the image below). Those are both keywords that will work very naturally with what I’m writing about. So I note them down.
So, ‘keyword‘ is my “basic” keyword.
But I’m also using ‘keyword planner’ and ‘keyword research’ as related keywords or long-tail keyword (though the tail isn’t very long on those).
I also circled in blue the difficulty numbers for various keywords. Note all that orange! This is a hard area to break into. Easier keywords would have lower numbers and would be in green. More difficult in yellow. Even harder in orange. And the hardest will have even higher numbers and be in red.
My second stop is Google. Because we all know Google is the God of search. Google has two ways it helps.
When you type in a search, sometimes a box will pop up two or three down in the search results that starts with “People also ask”. I love this box. This is a great place to find long-tail keywords.
And for every search, at the very bottom of the page, Google will generate a “Searches related to” section. This is the other place to find long-tail keywords.
For this post, I tried ‘keywords’ in Google search. But the results were all for planners. That wasn’t the direction the post was going in. So I added the word ‘choose’ and typed in ‘choose keywords’ in the Google search box.
Luckily, it prompted one of the “People also ask” boxes! I love these. I noted that “How do I find the best keywords” was a great long-tail keyword for this post. I wrote it down. You’ll notice that both the blog post title and the first paragraph include this long-tail keyword. The meta description (which you can’t see) also includes this long-tail keyword. And it includes our “basic” keyword (which is, confusingly, keyword).
Whether Google provides the “people also asked for” box or not, Google does always provide another nice tool. At the very bottom of the page of every search, there is a section title “Searches related to”. This section is a wealth of information.
The image above is what showed up when I did my “choose keywords” search.
While I already picked out ‘keyword planner’ with Mangools, I noticed I hadn’t worked in the word SEO anywhere! So obvious! But I missed it. But a Google search pointed it out.
So use the Google related searches when you are looking for keyword and keyword phrases.
My last stop is Pinterest. Both because they are a main source of traffic for me and because their search tool is amazingly helpful in doing keyword research.
There are two ways to find keywords on Pinterest.
The first way you’re going to use Pinterest is by starting to type in the search box on the top of the screen.
When you start to type in your keyword in the search box, Pinterest will try to predict what you’re going to type next. As you can see in the image, Pinterest predicted ‘keyword research,’ along with some others. I noticed ‘keywords seo’ was second. This is another way of grouping the words that I hadn’t seen below but hit the topic perfectly. So I’m going to work that into the flow of the blog post.
The second way you can use Pinterest to help with keyword research is by noticing what pops up after a search.
After you hit enter and your search results pop up, Pinterest provides little boxes to help you narrow down your search. In the image, you can see them…they’re the terms that are in little boxes, each a different color. Note that ‘research’ and ‘seo’ are on there. I also noted that ‘ideas’ was on there! I definitely need to hit the idea of what do when you don’t have any keyword ideas.
You can do the same thing. You may notice something that you should work in.
6. Now write your post...
You’ve done it! You have your basic keyword. You have some keyword synonyms and a long-tail keyword. You might even have noticed something you needed to include in the post that you hadn’t thought of.
And you took notes all along when you did this.
Now you write your post. Work in those keywords and terms naturally, with the flow the writing.
Some final notes
- Don’t keyword stuff. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using the above process because you have synonyms and a long-tails keyword. But don’t mindlessly repeat the keyword unless it naturally works into the post. Google will dock you for keyword stuffing.
- Don’t falsely use keywords. Even if you follow the above method and try to rank for a keyword that isn’t related to the content, it probably won’t work. And it will annoy people who do show up looking for information you’re not providing. That’s one reason I avoided using the word ‘tool’ (except for there) throughout the post. Because this isn’t a post about keyword tools. It’s a post about finding and picking the best keywords.
- Do keep your order in mind. Keyword, then content. Don’t write all your content, then try to stuff the keywords in.
- Do stop worrying so much about keywords. Great content will naturally include keywords. The important thing is to provide fabulous content to your readers. This will turn casual readers into dedicated readers who rave about your blog to others. Slow growth is the way to go.
If you’re serious, serious about learning about keywords, I recommend “Sticky Blogging SEO” course. I took it and it’s amazing! (It’s one of only two courses/books I recommend…out of the 100+ I’ve taken and read). Most of what I’ve learned has been from two sources: stumbling through it myself and this course. She answers any and all questions you might have. And the practical assignment that you work on throughout the course has helped me so much.
My Reese’s Muddy Buddies are in the top 3 on Google search results! I’m not claiming every post will rank first page. Mine don’t. But this course helped me immensely.