If you’re really serious about getting your content seen by others, you need to really get your head around SEO. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is vital for bloggers. In this article, we’re focusing on on-page SEO and how to find the ideal SEO focus keyword for your blog post.
The good news is, if you’ve put the time and effort into creating high quality, original content, you’re already one step ahead of the SEO game.
But unfortunately, producing great content isn’t enough these days if you want to be ranked by Google. This is where keyword research comes in.
What you’ll find in this article: What is a keyword? Short vs. long-tail keywords. How to find keywords. Free and paid keyword research tools for bloggers. Factors to consider when selecting a keyword. Using your keyword for on-page optimisation. Yoast SEO Plugin. Free On-Page SEO checklist (download)
What is an SEO Focus Keyword?
If you already know what a keyword is then feel free to skip this section and move on. For those of you unsure what a keyword is though, let’s start with the basics.
A keyword is basically a query that someone types into a search engine to find certain information. Keywords are single words or phrases that allow people to find your particular blog post via search engines.
For example, someone visiting Budapest for a couple of days that wants to book a hotel might type in ‘Budapest hotels’. This is the keyword. Keywords can be general or specific queries.
Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail Keywords
The example above is a short-tail keyword, and what this basically means is that it’s a very general search term. The results produced from short-tail keywords are very broad.
On the other hand, long-tail keywords are much more specific. A long-tail keyword for the example above could be ‘Budapest hotels with spa cheap’. This narrows the search results massively to affordable hotels in Budapest with spa’s.
When choosing an SEO focus keyword, you need to be searching for long-tail keywords to use within your articles. Unless you have a very well-established website with a high domain authority, you stand little chance of ranking for short-term keywords.
You can check your domain authority for free using Moz’s Link Explorer.
How to Find Keywords
There are many ways to search for keywords. There are plenty of free options for basic keyword research and paid options for more in-depth keyword research.
FREE Keyword Research Tools for Bloggers
If you’re just starting out as a blogger, then it’s unlikely you will have a big budget to pay for keyword research tools. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of free tools which are pretty effective.
In fact, you can conduct really simple, free keyword research using Google itself.
Google Keyword Research
Simply type a general search query into the Google search bar, and Google will automatically recommend popular topics related to your query.
The keywords that pop up in the recommendations are the most searched for terms on Google for your query. These are your long-tail keywords. To narrow it down even further, replace your query with the long-tail keyword and Google may even produce more suggested keywords for you.
Pinterest is one of the best keyword research tools online. Although Pinterest is technically a social network, it works as a search engine, and therefore can be used for SEO. This also means Pinterest is the perfect place to promote your blog.
Just like google, type in your short-tail keyword into the search bar, and select one of the suggested long-tail keywords.
The search results will appear, and if it’s a hot topic, there will be even more suggested long-tail keywords below the search bar in the form of coloured tiles. You can select one of the tiles and if it’s a really popular topic, Pinterest will suggest even more keywords.
This a fantastic free keyword research tool and really easy way to find popular searches. The more you narrow your search using the long-tail keyword suggestions, the less competition there is for that particular keyword.
High search volume + low competition = Perfect SEO Focus Keyword
Some people mistake Google Ads for a paid keyword research tool. This is because once you create an account, you have to create an ad campaign.
Fortunately, Google gives you the option to pause your campaign for as long as you want. So, you can create an account, pause your campaign and then you have complete access to the keyword planner for free, under ‘tools’.
The keyword planner allows you to access all kinds of information for your keyword. Such as, average monthly searches, competition, and cost per click. You can filter the results into low competition keywords to find the easiest ones to target.
PAID Keyword Research Tools for Bloggers
If you’re serious about improving the SEO of your website, you might want to consider a paid search tool.
Most of the subscription options for paid keyword research tools offer price bundles. As a blogger, you definitely won’t need premium or business packages, the cheapest option will be more than enough for your SEO needs.
KeySearch is my favourite keyword research tool. I find it the easiest to use and it provides you with all the information you need to find the perfect SEO focus keyword.
Currently KeySearch starts at $17 a month with discounts available if you pay for a year’s subscription. KeySearch is much cheaper than most other paid research tools.
The reason I love KeySearch so much is because it produces a score for each keyword so you can easily determine how competitive it is to rank for.
The search results display the search volume, CPC, PPC, and score. It also provides all of the above for hundreds of related keyword searches, as well as competitor analysis.
It’s a great tool to use to get keyword inspiration and to scope out your competitors and see how you can make your article better than theirs.
Top of the Range SEO tools
This is where things get expensive. The most popular SEO tools are provided by Moz, SEMRush, and Ahrefs. These are largely popular with SEO professional’s due to the access to their extensive SEO tools. Prices start at $99 per month for these tools.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend these to beginner bloggers. The price isn’t worth it for keyword research alone.
Factors to Pay Attention to When Conducting Keyword Research
When conducting your keyword research, you should pay attention to 4 important analytics. I’ll be using KeySearch to demonstrate these.
1. Competition Score
KeySearch provides a competition score which highlights how difficult it is to rank for that particular keyword. They produce 6 different difficulty levels:
- Competition is very easy (Light Blue)
- Competition is fairly easy (Light Green)
- Competition is easy-moderate (Green)
- Competition is moderate (Yellow)
- Competition is fairly difficult (Light Red)
- Competition is very difficult (Red)
The competition level you should target largely depends on your own website authority.
If your domain authority is low (under 25), you’ll need to target easy-moderate levels and below. If your DA is mid-level (30-40) target moderate levels and below.
Really, you should only target high competition levels if you have a well-established blog with a high DA.
There’s no point targeting a keyword with a low competition score if the search volume is also ridiculously low. You want to bring in traffic to your website, that’s the whole point of you finding the perfect SEO focus keyword!
To avoid targeting pointless keywords, make sure you filter out any keywords that bring in less than 500 searches a month.
3. Competitor Research
When you type in a keyword using KeySearch, you’ll see the top 10 URL’s ranking for that particular keyword. You should use this to determine whether to target that specific keyword or not.
To do this, look closely at the top-ranking websites in terms of their DA in particular. If there are websites in the top 10 with authority that is similar or less than yours, it’s worth targeting.
If there aren’t at least 2 similar authority websites in the top 10, then I wouldn’t recommend using that word for your SEO focus keyword.
4. User Intent
There are a lot of keywords that could have multiple meanings. You need to avoid using keywords that could mean something completely different to what you’re trying to rank for.
For example, someone typing in the broad keyword ‘Budapest’, probably wants to know about the Hungarian city, but you can’t rule out the possibility that they just want to listen to the George Ezra song.
Ask yourself if the SEO focus keyword that you have targeted obviously matches up to your article. If so, the user intent will probably be met and you’re safe to target that keyword.
How to Use Your Keyword for On-Page SEO
So, you’ve pretty much done the hard work now. You’ve found the perfect keyword to focus on with a high search volume and little competition and you’re ready to go.
But what do you do with the keyword now?
Well, you can’t just dump your keywords anywhere in your article and hope for the best. It matters where you place them. To stand the best chance of ranking, you need to place your keyword in these locations:
- SEO title (shows in search results
- Meta description
- URL (slug)
- H1 title
- First paragraph
- H2 title
- Body text – sprinkle keyword 2-3 times throughout text, more if a long article
- Images – name and alt tag (at least 2 images)
Recommended WordPress SEO Plugin
If your website was built using WordPress, then the Yoast SEO Plugin is an absolute must. Especially if you’re a newbie in the SEO world. Check out these other vital WordPress Plugins for bloggers.
Yoast is really easy to use and works on a traffic light system, so marks the SEO of your article as being either green, amber, or red.
Yoast SEO Checklist
The plugin analyses your whole page and produces a checklist of SEO features you need to focus on and fix. It allows you to type in your SEO focus keyword, and advises you where exactly to put it, and how often to use it.
Be careful though, Yoast tends to suggest you use your keyword much more often than most SEO experts suggest. Although ‘keyword stuffing’ used to be a good way to get your article ranked quickly, this isn’t the case anymore.
In fact, using your focus keyword too often can negatively impact your article. So, stick to the recommended 2-3 (more if you have a longer piece of content). It’s important that your keyword usage sounds natural, and flows well with the rest of your text.
Ideally, most of the items within the checklist should be green, but as long as your overall SEO score is green, you’ll be fine.
General On-Page SEO
Keyword research is a huge part of optimising your website for search engines. You should conduct keyword research for every single page on your website.
It’s not all about the keywords though. For an easy to follow on-page SEO checklist, check out our free resources page. We’ll send you the download so you can save it to your phone or laptop to refer to before you publish an article.