When writing a blog post, the first place to start is with keyword research. When you take the time to properly complete keyword research and optimize blog posts for specific keywords, it’s likely the content will rank—and that your ideal buyer will find it online.
Before you begin keyword research, it is important to consider your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. When you think about SEO strategically, it increases the opportunity for your content to get in front of your ideal buyer.
The 5 Steps to Create an SEO Strategy
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of keyword research, we need to first cover the main areas of creating an SEO strategy. It’s easy to fall into an SEO rabbit hole with so much information and so many resources online, which is why we want to stay focused on the big picture of what your SEO strategy should be.
Step 1: Understand the Basics of Technical SEO for Website Structure
First, let’s cover technical SEO. Don’t worry, it isn’t as difficult as it may sound. Follow the steps below, and your website will be optimized in no time.
The goal of technical SEO is to make sure search engines can explore your site and read your content. The good news is that most of the heavy lifting of technical SEO can be done by using your current content management system or tools like DeepCrawl and Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider Tool.
There are several important rules you should keep in mind for technical SEO. Make sure that:
- Your site is easily indexable by search engines.
- Your website is mobile friendly.
- Your pages load quickly.
- You are using search-engine-friendly tools and content management software for your website.
- Your website is structured so search engines and customers can find what they need.
All of these factors need to be part of your website development and design. With a developer who understands the relationship between SEO and website design, this is easy to accomplish. Once you have ensured that these aspects of your site are optimized, you can take a closer look at onsite SEO.
Step 2: Optimize Your Website Pages for Keyword and Buyers
Optimizing websites for SEO should happen on a large-scale and individual page level. This process begins with how you have structured your website in the previous step.
To effectively optimize website pages, it’s important that you complete keyword research, write descriptive and simple URLs, and use the focus keyword in the title and meta description, as well as throughout each of your blog posts (more on that below). One of the most important things to consider is the kind of content your customers will love to see.
Content will be the driving force of your website. Therefore, the purpose of your content is to inform the customers about your business. Because of the importance of your content, it is critical to optimize all of it for SEO.
Having a solid SEO and content strategy is key to reaching your target audience. Once you have optimized your website pages and blog posts, you can begin to establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Step 3: Start Building Authority
Building authority starts with creating relevant content that other websites link to. Earning links from authoritative websites in your industry lets Google know that the content you have created provides value to its user. Building authority and generating links are two of the most important ranking factors of SEO.
Step 4: Create a Content Plan
It is important to know that you’re creating the right content for your ideal buyer. This begins with your content plan. The first steps of SEO strategy will give the information needed to create your content plan, which will dictate the topics and keywords for each piece of content you create.
Without a content calendar, keyword research won’t do you any good. Time spent researching keywords without a content plan is wasted time. Your content plan can be simple but needs to give topic ideas that will answer the questions your ideal buyer might ask and help sell your product or service as a solution. For example, let’s say you own an activewear e-commerce website and you know you need to write about buying leggings for this season.
Your content plan could look something like this:
- The Perfect Spring Leggings for Any Occasion
- How to Find Your Perfect Pair of Leggings
- The Best Legging Looks This Spring
- Can I Wear Leggings While Hiking?
- The Best Leggings for Outdoor Workouts
- Transitioning Your Leggings Into Daywear: Outfit Ideas
These are some great ideas for topics; but for this content to rank, you need to have a separate keyword for each post. And the best place to start while picking the keyword is with the ideal buyer.
Step 5: Know What Your Ideal Buyer Is Searching For
Before diving into keyword research, you need to know what your ideal buyer is searching for. By the end of your research, you should have an understanding of what it is they search for and the exact language they use in their queries. Don’t forget to consider the buyer’s journey and how what they search for differs from stage to stage.
It is a common error to assume that you know exactly what your ideal buyer is looking for without doing proper research. Researching search topics and language will help you get to know your ideal buyer intimately, which will help when searching for relevant keywords.
Now that you have started your SEO strategy on the right foot, it’s time to move forward with keyword research.
The 4 Steps to Starting Your Keyword Research
Now that the SEO strategy has been created, it’s time to begin keyword research. Begin by searching for specific keywords that fit into the topic of your post. Choosing the best keyword is crucial to optimizing content, so be sure you’re thorough in this step.
There are many different approaches to keyword research, but I am going to give you the four steps we use at Uhuru when searching for keywords.
Step 1: Pick Your Blog Post Topic
If you have put in the work developing an SEO strategy and creating a content plan, this step should be simple. Take a look at your calendar, and select the next post or topic. Now, it’s time to create a list of possible keywords.
Step 2: Brainstorm a List of Keywords
Put yourself in the ideal buyers’ shoes. Think about the things they care about and what they are searching for.
Google is a great tool for exactly that. Go to Google and begin searching for the topic. Google will begin to autofill the search queries, which will give a starting place for your list of possible keywords. Once you have a list of keywords, move on to the next step.
Step 3: Use SEO Tools to Research Further
Only knowing what the ideal buyer is searching for doesn’t give all the info needed to pick a keyword. You need more data, and the best way to get it is to use SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Keyword Planner.
SEMrush for Keyword Research
SEMrush will give further insight into the keywords that you brainstormed—such as the volume of organic searches, the number of searches every month, competition, and related keywords. Search in SEMrush for all possible keywords; if certain words don’t have any search volume replace them with similar keywords that have a search volume.
Ahrefs for Keyword Research
Ahrefs, which is similar to SEMrush, allows you to search the volume of organic searches, the number of searches every month, competition, and related keywords. Ahrefs also gives the option of narrowing your search with parameters to help you quickly find the perfect keywords.
Google Keyword Planner for Keyword Research
Google Keyword Planner, like the above SEO tools, allows you to search for words and phrases related to your topic so you can find the most relevant keywords for each piece of content. This tool also gives you the ability to create an advertising plan that you can add keywords to, save for later, or share with your team.
Using any of these tools or other SEO tools can help determine the best keywords for your content. Once you have a list of keywords and the details for each one, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Pick the Focus Keyword for Your Blog Post
Determine which keyword from your keyword research will be the best for SEO. Once you have chosen your focus keyword, it is time to start writing the blog post. While all of the work is done for SEO strategy and keyword research, the application of this information is just beginning. When it comes to your efforts to get your content ranking on Google, implementing the focus keyword into your content is equally as important as the SEO strategy and keyword research.
Want to learn more about Google keyword rankings? Check out our blog Google Keyword Ranking: From First Published to the First Page.
Optimizing Keywords in Your Blog Post
Congratulations, you have made it this far in optimizing your content! Now, it’s time to create your content with the information you have gathered from your keyword research. Keep reading to discover each element of your blog post that will need to be optimized in order to rank.
Optimizing Your Blog Post Title
Now that you have your focus keyword, it’s time to incorporate it into the blog post title. The title is one of the most crucial parts of SEO because Google looks at the title of your blog post as one of the most important factors for ranking. With the focus keyword included in the title, you’re optimizing your blog post for the best opportunity to rank.
Optimizing Your Meta Title
The meta title is the title that will be seen when using a search engine, such as Google. The meta title will appear if a search is done using the keyword in your title. This is one of the main reasons that keyword research is vital to your SEO strategy. You’re likely to rank higher on Google with a meta title than without one.
Optimizing Your Meta Description
A meta description is simply a short summary of the post. Ideally, it is no more than 145 characters. This description will appear in search results underneath the meta title. It is important to factor the focus keyword into the meta description, as this will also enhance your ability to rank on Google.
Optimizing Your Header Tags
Many people overlook the importance of incorporating HTML header tags into their content. By simply adding header tags (i.e., H1, H2, etc.) to content, you improve your opportunity to rank by letting Google know what the most important parts of your content are. Adding keywords into several of the header tags increases the possibility of your content ranking for those particular keywords.
Optimizing Your Image Alt Tags
Most people forget to add HTML alt tags to their images on their content. However, this is a very important step. Without the alt tag, Google cannot “see” the image. The image description should let Google know what it is looking at and how it relates to the blog post.
Optimizing by Using Bolded Text
Using bolded text helps draw the reader’s attention to specific words or phrases. However, it is important not to go overboard, or the bolded text loses its effect. The bolded text also keys Google into knowing the structure of the content. Using bolded text should be reserved specifically for words you want to rank on Google for.
Optimizing Paragraph Text
Paragraph text will be the majority of the content in your blog post, so it will be important to incorporate your focus keywords and additional keywords into the main text.
You should never feel like you are forcing keywords into the text. Make sure you are avoiding keyword stuffing—especially with your focus keyword. Your focus keyword should have no more than a two percent keyword density, which is equivalent to one keyword for every 200 words. Sentences should sound organic and informative. If the focus keyword sounds awkward and you’re struggling to incorporate it naturally, this may be a good indication that you didn’t do enough keyword research. You might even need to consider picking a new focus keyword.
It is also important that you make content easy to read and entertaining. Write content without grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. Simply taking the time to proofread your content before publishing can save you from making errors. Focus on quality content to increase the likelihood of performing well in search engines.
Now You’re Ready to Get Your Content Ranking!
Although optimizing your content from SEO strategy to keyword search can take time, this step should never be overlooked. Taking the time to research keywords and implement them into both the content plan and the content itself will increase the likelihood of your ideal buyer finding you—and, hopefully, result in more customers for your business.