Note: This post contains the basics only. If you are fairly familiar with them, I suggest you read my post on advanced keyword research to improve upon what you already know.
Every digital marketing campaign starts with research. If you want to advertise on social media platforms, you have to research your ideal audience. If you want to generate leads, you need to research what kind of content your audience values enough to give you their emails. And if you want to write quality content, you need to research what your audience is searching for.
As you can see, keyword research is at the core of content marketing, content writing, content strategy, or whatever you call it. So, the question arises, how can you do keyword research for blogs effectively?
Now, to do this, first, you need to understand why keyword research is important.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
As I said, keyword research is at the core of content writing. But that’s not the whole reason for keyword research being important. In fact, according to HubSpot and other industry leaders, keywords don’t impact your rankings as much as you would think. It’s actually the insight that you gain from researching keywords that is valuable.
When you perform keyword research, you learn what your target audience is searching for. With this, you can discover if they want more material on the basics of a topic, or if they want more advanced techniques, or maybe they just want to know about good tools or companies that can help them with that task. This can help you decide what kind of content to publish in the future. You don’t just have to rely on yourself and your team to brainstorm new content ideas. Those are just a search away.
Except for giving content ideas, keyword research can help improve traffic. This is because it may be that you and your audience use a different term for the same concept. Now, if you don’t know about this, your focus keyword will be the term you use every day. As a result, even if you have valuable content, your traffic will be low as people just aren’t searching using the term you rank for.
How to perform keyword research for blogs?
Now, that we have answered why, let’s find out how.
Step 1: Brainstorm
The first thing you should do is brainstorm. Write down all the topics, keywords, ideas, etc., that you want to write about.
There is nothing right or wrong in this step. Just jot down everything you and your team can think of.
Step 2: Selection
Now that you have your ideas in one place, start analyzing them for feasibility. Ask yourself, does this particular idea/keyword/topic closely relates to what my blog is about? If it is, it goes on to the main list of keywords. If it isn’t, then ask yourself, is this something that makes sense for you to write? Are you the right person to provide this information, why should people trust you, what’s your credibility?
If your answer is yes or maybe, or we could expand to this area in the future, but we don’t have credibility now, then put the idea into a second list I call “Do Later.” This is the list you can pick up topics from when you are running out of content ideas and need new ones.
If you realize that you are not the right person to be producing this kind of content, drop the idea.
Step 3: Grouping and more brainstorming
Now that you have lists of keywords for your blog, it’s time to group them together. Put all the keywords related to a topic under the same head. If you feel a broad head is lacking keywords, brainstorm again.
Here is an example I have created for better understanding. So, here’s my main list. As you can see, nothing is sorted as of yet. It’s just keywords I thought of.
Now, to understand where I am lacking content, I categorized these keywords.
With this categorized keyword list, I can clearly see that I need to brainstorm more keywords under campaign analysis.
After categorizing your keywords, mapping them to different URLs can be helpful. But, since keyword content mapping is a fairly large topic, I won’t get into that in this post. You can read more about it on Semrush’s blog.
Step 4: Research
By the time you finish the third step, you should have 2 lists – the main list and a do later list. Step 3 focuses on dealing with the main list first. If you have time, you can apply these steps to the do later list too.
Now, that you have your keywords ready, use a keyword research tool to find the volume, organic difficulty, and paid difficulty for them. Based on the results, you can either use the keyword you thought of initially or you can use the related keywords section to find similar keywords that are easier to rank for. While doing research also pick some secondary keywords to include in your blog post.
So, for every keyword in your list, you will have a focus keyword that broadly indicated the topic and secondary keywords that will go into detail about the topic. For example, in this post my focus keyword was “keyword research” and my secondary keywords were “keyword research for blogs, why is keyword research important, and how to perform keyword research.”
Now here, I could have chosen “how to do keyword research” instead of “how to perform keyword research,” but since the first option was more difficult to rank for, I choose the other. This won’t make much of a difference in my post appearing in the search results like Google and other search engines look at the intent of the search and not the actual words used to search. If you want a more in-depth approach to keyword research like this, you can read my post on advanced keyword research.
Now, when you are researching keywords, always ask yourself questions like –
Which method is better, paying for ads or showing up organically? How many ads are there? Does the current keyword match its intent? What is my target audience’s intent? Are people looking for the same content I am writing about using words I have used?
This will not only help you figure out the best way to rank but also tell you about the searchers’ intent and reveal areas for expansion.
This was my 4-step beginners’ guide to keyword research. Hope you found it useful. If you did, please share. Thank you.