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The purpose of this article is to educate the DIY bloggers on the importance of keyword research. google-adwords-keyword-sortingDoing proper keyword research is vital for the success of your blogging program. Whether you’re writing articles yourself or paying someone to produce content for you, a lack of targeted and relevant keywords in your blog posts will almost certainly mean a lack of organic traffic.

Why Keyword Research Matters

Keyword research is the process of determining which search terms and phrases people are actually searching for, then analyzing traffic levels and SEO competition to make your educated selections. Often, especially in staffing and recruiting, industry professionals feel that their day-to-day terminology makes for the best keywords. The logic is this: “If I use these industry specific terms on a daily basis, then they must be used just as heavily by searchers, right?” Not necessarily.

For the sake of a quick example, some recruiters don’t like to be referred to as a “staffing agency.” Well, if the market you serve tends to search for terms using the word “staffing,” and if you serve the same functions as a traditional staffing agency, then you will want to reconsider excluding the term. There’s no point in targeting phrases that people are not searching. It doesn’t matter whether you rank #1 or #100 — if nobody is searching for that specific keyword, you will not receive any organic traffic from it regardless of your ranking.

Using Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Now it’s on to the keyword research itself. We’ll keep it simple because analyzing competition in depth can be a really lengthy and drawn out process requiring the use of paid tools. The purpose here is to learn which keywords are searched and how to get a reasonable feel for the keyword’s competitiveness.

Finding Niche Relevant Keywords

First, visit the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

Next, we’re going to find popular and frequently searched keywords related to your blog post or page. For our example, let’s pretend we’re trying to optimize a page about staffing agencies in Buffalo.
googleUsually the initial results are a bit overwhelming and may contain many different keywords that aren’t exactly what you’re looking for. At this point, go ahead and create a filter. For our example of “staffing agencies Buffalo,” you may not know the exact search strings you want, but you do know that any keyword you want must contain the word “Buffalo.”

In the bottom of the left column, click “Keywords to include,” then enter the word you want all results to have in common. In this case, we want all keywords to have the word “Buffalo” in them.
google1Lastly, click the “Keyword ideas” tab and sort your remaining keywords by traffic by clicking “Avg. monthly searches.”
google2What you’re left with is a nice list of relevant keywords sorted by traffic. Horray! Now we need to look at the competition for these keywords to determine which one or two phrases we have the best chance to rank for.

Analyzing Keyword Competition Levels Quickly

As mentioned before, thoroughly analyzing SEO competition is a very in-depth process which requires paid-for analytics tools that assess page titles, URLs, quality of backlinks, quantity of backlinks, anchor text, website authority, and many other factors for thousands of competing websites across the internet. Instead, we’ll talk about two good rules you can follow to still have effective optimization without spending hours of your time doing research and analyzing data.

Rule #1 – Look at the competition column

Important: the competition column does NOT measure SEO competition. This column only analyzes the competitiveness of bidding on these terms through Google AdWords. However, if the term shows a competition value of “High,” that generally means that the term has better conversion rates than a term with low competition. In other words, it’s worth more to the advertiser since it likely leads to more job applications or more new clients. Like anything, this isn’t always the case, but it’s a good rule of thumb to follow. Advertisers, especially those paying for their websites to display through AdWords, are generally pretty knowledgeable about which keywords convert the best, and most of them have a decent amount of data through their paid campaigns to back that up.

So if the bidding competition for the keyword is high, it stands to reason that the SEO competition for the keyword will also be, at the very least, a little bit higher.

Rule #2 – Check the top results for high authority websites

Once you find a couple keywords that could work for your page or post, simply do a search for them in Google. It’s important to clear your browser’s cache and cookies before doing so, since Google will generally bring back pages that you frequent much higher than they normally rank.

As you’re reviewing the top 10-20 Google results for a specific keyword, what you want to look for is an absence of high authority websites. If your top results are flooded with Wikipedia, Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, LinkedIn, and other high-authority websites, you can safely forget about ranking for that keyword. It likely will not happen.

If your top results are filled with low-authority websites and a few local competitors, it’s probably going to be a good keyword to target.

Keep in mind there’s no such thing as SEO made easy, but if you follow this process, you can ensure that you’re at least targeting keywords that people are searching. By ignoring keyword research altogether, you give yourself essentially no chance to rank.

Look for future posts where we discuss best practices for optimizing your blog posts with your keywords!

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