Have you ever done keyword research for a blog post and experienced no resulting organic traffic? You may be thinking, “What happened? The terms I optimized for had search volume. Why am I not getting a piece of that?”
Welcome to the club.
Poor Keyword Research = Poor Optimization = Poor Results
Credibility is a major obstacle for blog posts. Search engines want to rank the most credible, comprehensive resource for a given keyword term. Most blog posts don’t have what it takes to be “most credible.” A blog post can gain credibility and ranking as it picks up links, either naturally or through deliberate linkbuilding efforts, but this is more commonly seen with evergreen content than with blog content. Bloggers typically aren’t linkbuilding.
Competition is another reason for the difficulty in getting organic traffic from blog posts. Google’s keyword tool, used by many bloggers, does not display all of the terms that people search for, nor does it display terms with small levels of search volume. Because of this, many bloggers in the same niche research and optimize using the same limited set of keyword terms and make it nearly impossible for newcomers to rank without a lot of SEO work. It’s hard for some to accept this idea that Google’s keyword volume tool is actually setting a post up for organic failure.
As a hypothetical example, suppose I write a blog post about keyword research methods (how apropos). I do a little bit of research using Google’s Keyword Tool and find that “how to do keyword research” gets 320 global monthly searches.
I convince myself that the term is within reach. 320 isn’t a very high number after all. So I title my post “How To Do Keyword Research,” and interlace those words and phrases throughout the body of the content and press “Publish.” A couple of days later, the blog post is ranking on page 6 and gets no organic traffic except for the occasional hit from a bizarre semi-relevant phrase. Failure.
Obvious Keywords = Higher Competition Levels
What I didn’t realize when I published the post is that the competition level for a term like “how to do keyword research” is high enough to keep my new blog post from getting anywhere near the first page.
On the results page are several posts that have my exact term in the title. As a blogger, I know my niche well enough to know that several of these sites are far bigger and more credible than mine. (A few SEO-savvy bloggers will be able to verify their hunch by looking at backlinks, PageRank, etc). So if I want my blog post to rank well for this result and get any organic traffic, I’ll have to build my own links to the post and I just don’t have that kind of time. I barely had time to write this post! Alas!
Best Keyword Research Method = Find Under-the-Radar Terms
If you’re a blogger who cares enough to do some keyword research for each post, but doesn’t want to build links, then consider trying what I’ve been testing for about the last month. It involves targeting under-the-radar keywords that are relevant and being searched, but are too low to register on most keyword tools.
The goal in being a guerrilla keyword researcher is to find the best “ultra long tail” terms, optimize the post, rank in the top spots automatically, and reap the traffic. As you get traffic, you’ll get more engagement, more natural links, and more site credibility, allowing you to rank for even more competitive keywords later. This approach works best if you have a blog with a little bit of PageRank. A PR1 or PR2 should be able to get a high ranking for guerrilla terms.
The basic steps to my blogging keyword research strategy (which I’ll explore in detail):
- Write a good, interesting post
- Identify core keywords related to the post
- Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find long-tail variations with search volume
- Use Soovle.com to find even longer variations with implied search volume
- Search these terms in Google to identify low competition results
- Optimize and win!
Step 1: Start With Strong Content
Whatever you write should be engaging, have a unifying theme, and a decent length. More is usually better for SEO, so try for at least 300+ words.
Step 2: Identify Core Keywords Related To The Post
In the example, we identified “keyword research” to be the core term. In your case, there may be certain terms that are used interchangeably so you may have multiple possible core terms.
Step 3: Use Google’s Keyword Tool To Find Long-Tail Variations
Working off the core term, Google’s keyword tool provides some keyword suggestions that still have measurable search volume. You can play around with different combinations of these to find relevant long-tail terms. In this case, we liked “how to do keyword research” as a long-tail keyword, even though it was still too broad to keep. There are probably other long-tail terms we could work with.
Step 4: Use Soovle.com To Identify Longer Variations With Implied Search Volume
Soovle.com is basically an aggregator of “suggest” results from search engines like Google, Bing, YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Answers.com and Amazon.com. One thing we know about “suggest” results is that they are based on searcher behavior and that results at the top have more search volumes than those below (but the important thing to know is that all “suggest” results have some search volume).
There’s nothing novel about the way Soovle works, but I like it for its simplicity and its breadth of results. And it’s free (you could also use something like ScrapeBox for a more robust, paid solution).
So we plug in the term “how to do keyword research.”
We get several variations of this term including some relevant ones:
- How to do keyword research on google
- How to do keyword research for seo
- How to do keyword research seo
Since there are 10 results listed, there’s a good chance that there are other combinations we’re not seeing, so starting with “how to do keyword research,” we can start going through the alphabet and adding letters as if starting a new word at the end of the phrase, e.g., “how to do keyword research a” and “how to do keyword research b,” etc. Doing this reveals a few more variations we didn’t see before:
- How to do keyword research for free (this made me laugh)
- How to do keyword research google adwords
- How to do keyword research niche
- How to do keyword research tutorial
As I mentioned before, all of these terms get search volume, even though most of them would show none using Google’s volume tool (which is exactly what you want).
Another thing you can do is start with a broader term in Soovle, like “keyword research.” By starting broad, nearly every suggested term is one that also has a good amount of traffic, so none are good candidates. What you can do, though, is start front-loading the term “keyword research” with the most common adjectives and verbs to find under-the-radar variations, phrases that people naturally use when trying to search, like “easy keyword research.” For adjectives, I find that “good” and “best” are great places to start. You can also start with verbs that are associated with the term. The only verb that really goes with keyword research is “do” so I type in “do keyword research” and see what else is generated.
When I start with the term “best keyword research” and then add letters like we did previously [“best keyword research a(b,c,d,e…)”] we end up with some more fun and relevant terms:
- Best keyword research article
- Best keyword research guide
- Best keyword research method
- Best keyword research strategy
Step 5: Audit The Terms In Google
Once you have identified some good terms through Soovle, check them for search volume in Google Keyword Tool, then search for the terms in Google. You’re looking for a search result with close to zero exact match titles for the term you selected.
In this case, “best keyword research method” is nearly free of exact competition and the sites that rank look easy enough to overtake.
Step 6: Optimize and Win!
Optimization includes having the exact keyword phrase in the post title, meta description, and body content. The rest of the content should also be relevant to the keyword. If possible, you can do some internal linking from older blog posts. You can optimize images as well by giving them names that include your search term.
Once you get into a rhythm of going through this keyword research process, you get used to it, and it honestly doesn’t take very long. In some of the posts I’ve tested this out on, I’ve found it easy to rank without extra linkbuilding, and one post can pull in dozens of monthly organic visits from one term and its variations. It's really quite nice.