Keyword Research: Knowing Where Traffic is Directing traffic to your blog means you get more visitors to your blog. That mass of Internet traffic is rich pickings for your advertising on your blog. That’s where you want to be. The trick to that little problem is hooking into what most people are searching for—by using the most common keywords. So, when users go into their browser, what are the most likely keywords they will type in as a search string? That’s the traffic you want to find.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KEYWORD RESEARCH
Okay. Stop what you’re doing right now! Stop coding, stop playing with blog pages, stop searching for images, stop writing articles—just stop!
Have you actually done some keyword research for your new blog? Not, “Yeah, I’d search for xyz phrase if I were looking for this info.” Think of the bigger picture, such as data on who searches for what. Have you sifted through hundreds of phrases related to every single page of your blog? Do you know all the phrases users have searched that are related to your content for, say, the past year? Do you know whether they’ve been searching for the singular or plural versions of phrases? That is the kind of keyword research we’re talking about … the nuts and bolts of your topic and its realistic popularity on the Web. Now that you have a glimpse of the type of data available, we can dive deeper.
WHY KEYWORD RESEARCH IS FIRST
Simply put, you cannot hit the target if you cannot see it. By doing the keyword research first, before you even build a single page, you’ll know exactly what content to bring to market from the start. Your ideas of what users might like to see will be replaced by realistic knowledge of what they have historically looked for. Doing the keyword research is almost a shortcut to getting started, because the goal is to build a blog that receives good rankings and develops good traffic rapidly. Your research will help you understand what volumes of searches are performed on the phrases related to your topic. There are two key points to make in this situation:
1. You have to know what keywords people are searching with. What are people searching for?
2. You also have to know the volumes of those searches. How many people are searching for each keyword?
Building a blog takes time. Getting that blog ranked well takes time. Developing a decent amount of traffic takes time. By knowing exactly what phrases users are using to search with, you can build content to match those searches exactly. By knowing how many searches a phrase generally sees, you can decide whether it’s worth your time to build the content that will produce a good ranking for the phrase. Remember, each article or page should be between 200 and 300 words in length, so the time to make a page is a very real commitment, and the investment in the research will pay off.
It’s also very important that you get the research right. By using the right tools and knowing how to read the data, you’ll know how to find the hidden gems. These hidden gems are the phrases that are not overpopulated with optimized pages right now, and yet still get a useful number of searches per day.
This concept is known as the “long tail” of search—in effect, you’re looking for niche phrases, which are narrowly targeted phrases that most folks don’t optimize for. Collect enough of these phrases in your list of well-ranked pages, and, collectively, the incremental traffic they deliver can easily outpace more mainstream phrases. We’ll get into the “long tail” in more detail in a bit. First. you need to decide how broad or focused you want to look. If you look at one-word phrases, such as “apple,” you’ll see a large volume of traffic generated—meaning lots of folks search that phrase daily.
This is excellent, provided you can rank well for that phrase. Take a look at who’s already on the first page of results for this phrase. Are you likely to knock them out of the first-place spots? Realistically—not immediately. So, your biggest weapon is to target phrases that are broader in nature, such as “red delicious apple.” People searching this phrase actually want information on this exact item. Those searching for “apple” may be looking for information on “red delicious apples,” but you have no way of knowing this.
They may also be researching computers manufactured by Apple Computer Corporation, which is a completely different thing, and quite obviously completely useless to your current purposes. Take a long look at the areas you’re going to cover, and ask yourself whether you can define them even better. If you can, you’re on your way to posting a winning blog.
The more targeted each Page is toward one phrase or keyword, the better the chances that the page will be ranked successfully. Sure, there may be only four searches per day on “red delicious apple seeds,” but if you rank well for the phrase, you’ll likely get traffic from those searches. The result is that by providing exactly what searchers are looking for, the value of your Web site increases in their eyes.
Now, those niche phrases we mentioned earlier are pure gold. The true “long tail” resides in the phrases you may never have thought of on your own. They are the phrases users cobble together in their own unique way—phrases you may have no idea you rank well for, yet they are phrases that users nonetheless find you listed under.
When starting a new blog, you’ll be without some important data that will come only with time. When starting out, simply target the phrases that your research has led you to—those represent the most popularly searched phrases for a given topic.
However, when your site is listed in the engines, and you can find yourself in, the results, and you are seeing inbound search traffic in your stats, then it’s time to get cozy with a great little tool:
We’ve been using this tool since it began running in beta in 2006. It is amazingly useful, though there are likely those who could replicate it and make it better. The point is, it’s amazing sim-ply because this type of tool provides you with realtime information that shows you exactly which phrases users have used to get to you.
It shows you which engines they came from and how deep your Web site is in the rankings there. It will also make suggestions about which phrases you should move to the “To Do” file and begin creating content for. Users will amaze you with the creative phrases they come up with when searching for things. And these are not phrases you’ll ever think of yourself either.
These are the crazy, off-the-wall combos that would simply never occur to you when doing the keyword research up front. This data is very powerful because it allows you to create content pages for those niche phrases, phrases you’ll most likely rank very well for, and develop a whole new base of incremental traffic. There might only be three to five searches per day on these oddball phrases, but it adds up when you start targeting them.
Another nice benefit is that due to its real-time nature, this provides a snapshot of what users are searching for today. Not what they looked at last month or over the past year, but five minutes ago. This allows you to spot trends as they emerge.