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?”
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.
Here's an easy three-step process for targeting keywords with blog content.
Step 1: Identify Keyword Opportunities
Before you can target anything, you need to determine what keyword phrases are likely to bring in relevant traffic. The kind of research you do will depend on your goals for the post.
If you're chasing a timely topic – Use Google Trends or Google Suggest to find keyword phrases. Traditional keyword tools can also be of some use here—our Free Keyword Tool, for example (shameless plug) pulls in fresh data so you can research current events sooner.
If you're chasing recurring traffic – We've said it before, we'll say it again: The best way to find keywords that are relevant to your audience over the long term is by consulting your own analytic data. Specifically, look for keywords—and, more importantly, groups of related keywords—that are driving traffic and/or conversions, but for which you don't already have a dedicated page. For example, if people are finding your food blog with the keyword "guacamole," but you don't have a post dedicated to this happy ending for avocados, write one! A post with that keyword phrase in the title tag will not only rank higher for those searches, it will be more obviously relevant, increasing click-through.
Step 2: Narrow Down Your Topic
As a topic, "guacamole" is a bit broad. You're extremely unlikely to rank on the first page for that keyword. You'll need to pick a narrower topic that will still appeal to a good number of readers. If you use keyword grouping software, like WordStream for SEO (shameless plug), you can quickly find a variation that is both specific and relevant. Otherwise, use a keyword tool—and your best judgment—to determine a suitable phrase.
If you have a Flip camera at your disposal, you might decide that "video of how to make guacamole" is a good choice. This is much more specific, and you could make it even more specific if you chose ("video of how to make guacamole from scratch," "video of how to make the best fresh guacamole," etc.).
Narrow Down Keyword Phrase
Step 3: Write and Optimize Your Post
I always feel like choosing your topic is the hard part of blogging—once you know what you want to write about, the actual writing is easy! (I realize not everyone feels this way.)
Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing your keyword-targeted post:
As mentioned above, don't forget to use your keyword in the title tag. It's a key signal for search engines.
Even if you're doing a video post, you'll want some text on the page (in this case, the recipe). Use your keyword, and relevant variations on your keyword, in the text.
Use the keyword in appropriate meta tags, such as the meta description and the file name and alt text of your images. Also use it in the title and description of your video.
Use internal linking to your advantage. For example, if you have an index page of videos and another of dip recipes, add a link to the video from both, with optimized anchor text.
Don't forget to promote your post—on Twitter, Facebook, etc. This encourages external linking as well.
Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? In fact, targeting keywords with blog posts is rather easier than doing so with web pages, since you don't have to worry about how they fit into your site architecture. (In addition, promotion is often more natural.) And keyword research is as good a way as any to come up with topics to blog about.