The Best Keyword Research Method Ever Invented For Blogs

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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.

Google Keyword Tool Results

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.

How To Do Keyword Research Search Results

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.

Under-The-Radar Keyword Research Method

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):

  1. Write a good, interesting post
  2. Identify core keywords related to the post
  3. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find long-tail variations with search volume
  4. Use to find even longer variations with implied search volume
  5. Search these terms in Google to identify low competition results
  6. 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 To Identify Longer Variations With Implied Search Volume is basically an aggregator of “suggest” results from search engines like Google, Bing, YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo, and 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.”

Soovle Example 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.

Best Keyword Research Method Search Results

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.

But Don’t Take My Word For It…

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  1. Mandi Hudson says

    Great post Scott! I especially love how you creatively got all of those great phrases in your post. I may be terrible, but I do keyword research for everything but my own blog, now I am a bit more motivated to spend the time. Maybe… :)

    • Scott Cowley says

      Thanks, Mandi! That sounds all too familiar – spending all day on client keyword research and often feeling like the same level of detail has to go into keyword research for a blog post. I’m trying to get faster at it and not be so concerned with perfection when I do it for myself. I’m glad you’re feeling more motivated… maybe. :)

  2. Kathy Cowley says

    I like how the first step is writing good content–in writing for blogs, that should really come before keyword research and trying to get ranked, especially if you have already figured out the overall purpose of your blog. It’s easy to do it in the reverse order, to do the keyword research first, and then try to come up with content, but when you devalue the content it’s pretty likely that it will fall short.

    • Scott Cowley says

      Thanks a lot for commenting, Kathy! I typically advise clients to write an interesting post first, then go back and see which words are appropriate, and which phrases can be integrated seamlessly into the existing content. It’s easy to forget that starting with content will actually help a business more than starting with SEO, when it comes to blogging.

  3. Arienne says

    Since you’re now ranking first on Google for “Best Keyword Research Method” (at least in Nashville), I’d say you know what you’re talking about.

    Great tips.

    • Scott Cowley says

      I’d say the test was a success then. I’ll have to do a follow-up on how much organic traffic actually comes to the post, given that none of the words I optimized for had any search volume. Thanks, Arienne!

  4. Mitchell Wright says

    I think that this is a really cool method for doing keyword research. I think for smaller blogs, a fantastic way to increase your traffic is getting those long tail keywords. This is even better because you are going for the longer long tail keywords. Tristan has been reading “The Long Tail” the last few weeks and raving about it. This really is a great way for smaller blogs to begin to increase organic traffic! Thanks for the post Scott.

    • Scott Cowley says

      I appreciate the comment, Mitchell. There’s so much traffic to be won in the “long tail” but in many industries, even the long tail is becoming saturated because of automated content, syndication, and an increase in SEO. People have to start looking elsewhere for traffic.

  5. Scott Cowley says

    Thanks, Kiesha. I hadn’t heard of Soovle either until PubCon this year. I hope that they put some more development resources into it to easily extract data for multiple words. Good luck!

  6. Search Engine Island says

    Thanks Scott!

    Lovely post. Mostly I found interesting about the term “guerrilla keyword researcher”, this is what I heard about guerrilla marketing. But this is something which can be use rather than using the traditional ones.

    Great Buddy!!!

    Thanks :)

  7. Gurgaon says

    I like how the first step is writing good content–in writing for blogs, that should really come before keyword research and trying to get ranked, especially if you have already figured out the overall purpose of your blog. It’s easy to do it in the reverse order, to do the keyword research first, and then try to come up with content, but when you devalue the content it’s pretty likely that it will fall short.

  8. Dave Jenkins says

    This is a great post thanks Scott. I hadn’t heard of Soovle either and am going to have a good play around with it.

  9. Stuart says

    Scott thanks for the link to, I am always interested in trying keyword research methods that I haven’t come across before, it sounds great fr4om what you say.

    Has anyone else used Soovle and achieved some new found results?

  10. Supriyono says

    I have searched such insightful idea as this post. As a new blogger (and naive as well), I have wondered why my blog is absent of traffic? Now, it’s time to start keyword researching. Thanks Scott

  11. Julie says

    A big, huge thank you for this. I can’t seem to find an article that was simple enough to describe the technicalities of this keyword research so thank you for writing this up. I’m quite a newbie when it comes SEO so this is really much appreciated.

  12. Jackson Lo says


    This is brilliant! That Soovle tool is amazing, probably will save me a lot of time now everything is in one place. I wrote a post relating to Google Suggest and search volume a while back and so I can totally relate it to this article you’ve written. I thought it was a pretty fun exercise to run and surprisingly made one interesting conclusion… the order of suggester terms in Google does not mean it the phrase below each other are searched less, but they do have some search volume.

    Again, great article, great tool!


  13. Adam says

    Fantastic post! I've got a question though:
    How do I know whether or not a site is – like you said,  " easy enough to overtake." I'd love some inisght on that. 

    Also, I'd like some clarification on this statement:
    "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)."
    Does this mean that these long tail keywords, when put into Google's Keyword Tool, will return no searchings?

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