Believe it or not, optimizing your blog posts for search engines starts before you even write a single word! In this post I’m sharing my ultimate SEO keyword strategy so you can research and write a blog post that has big potential to rank highly on Google.
Because if you want to rank in Google, you’ll have to do more than add in a few keywords to your posts! Ranking highly starts with a few things: Keyword research, choosing the right keywords and doing competitor research. Read on for more.
The Proven SEO Keyword Strategy that helps you find Keywords you can Actually Rank For
Deciding on a Keyword
There’s two ways you can go about writing a blog post: You can go wide, or narrow. A wide approach would involve writing about a popular topic. The benefits of doing this mean there is a large audience that could be interested in your topic. The downside is that there’ll be a tonne of competition and the information you give may (but not always) be fairly surface-level or basic.
A narrow approach involves taking a more ‘niche’ topic, or narrowing in on a certain part of a topic. This topic will have a smaller audience, and will involve writing more specific information. The good thing about this is that you know exactly what the audience is wanting to find out. Knowing this means you can probably do a better job of meeting their needs.
For example, you may have a gardening blog and want to write about Fiddle Leaf Figs. Writing about Fiddle Leaf Figs in general would be a wide approach. There’s a lot of information out there for a large audience. To take a narrow approach to this topic, maybe you could decide to write about a specific aspect of these plants, such as Fiddle Leaf Fig pruning, Fiddle Leaf Fig growing zones or Fiddle Leaf Fig problems. This narrow approach is also known as a long-tail keyword.
A long-tail keyword is any kind of phrase that someone may type to search for in Google. Long tail keywords are easier to rank for and definitely work better to target a specific audience. To create a good SEO keyword strategy, we’ll use a long-tail keyword.
Targeting long-tail keywords will also help you to create a better SEO strategy in the future. For example, in a wide approach, you might write one post about Fiddle Leaf Figs and that’s it. On the narrow approach, you can eventually write multiple posts on all the different aspects of Fiddle Leaf Fig care. Not only will this give you more opportunities to rank for search terms, it will:
- Allow you readers to find similar information on your blog that they’re interested in
- Keep visitors on your site for longer – Google monitors this and either up or down-ranks your page accordingly
- Allow you to interlink your related posts, creating a ‘web’ of related content on your site that Google loves
- Tell Google you have multiple pages on the one similar topic, which is also great for SEO.
Doing Keyword Research
Before you start writing, you’ll want to do some research to find keywords that you could easily rank for. Let’s start with the previous example topic of Fiddle Leaf Figs. Neil Patel’s UberSuggest is a great system to check your keywords in.
Just enter your keyword and search zone, and check the results:
The results show us that while there is a large audience for this topic (60,500 searches a month!), it’s a very competitive keyword to rank for. Unless you’re a very experienced blogger with a well-established website that gets hundreds of thousands of hits, it’s not likely you’ll be able to break into this SERP.
When you scroll down on the page, it will give you some similar keyword suggestions. Pay attention to the search volume, and search difficulty (SD) numbers. Depending on how established you are, it’s ok to try target a keyword that has as little as 10 searches. But to start seeing results from your SEO keyword strategy, I would start by targeting keywords that have at least a couple of hundred searches.
Ideally, a keyword with a high search volume but low difficulty is the best option. These are the suggestions they gave us:
You can see there’s not too many options in the green, apart from ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig care’ and ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree care’. These are still quite general search terms, so I would suggest to try another search option.
Let’s have a look at some more targeted keywords to do with Fiddle Leaf Figs:
- ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig pruning’: This keyword had a search volume of 1,300 and a difficulty of 9 – a great long-tail keyword to try rank for!
- ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig brown spots’: This keyword has a search volume of 1,600 and a difficulty of only 7 – even better!
You can see with this strategy, you are able to create a library of blog posts that are relatively easy to rank for, relate to each other and create a library on your website which is beneficial for both your visitors and for Google.
Once you are able to create a few posts that get ranked and click-throughs on Google, it establishes your website’s authority. This makes it easier to then target keywords with a higher search volume but also a higher ranking difficulty.
Research your Competition
This is the last part in creating your SEO keyword strategy. Once you’ve decided upon a keyword you’d like to write about, you’ll want to do some competition research. The aim here is to be able to write a post on your keyword that is better than the competition’s posts. And to beat the competition, you’ll need to know what the standard is.
To do this, we’ll need to take a look at the search results page in Google. Now, the aim of this is definitely not to copy their posts! If you feel tempted to do this, you may want to write out an outline of your post before doing any competition research.
Type your keyword into Google and take a look at the top five or so results. You’ll notice there may be some paid ads or youtube videos that rank for your term. We won’t look at those today.
Take a look at each of the top-ranking pages, and note these things:
- How long is each post? You’ll want to aim for an in-depth blog post. Google loves content! If most of the top pages are hitting around 1500-2000 words, aim to write a post that is at least 2000 words long.
- Note their headings and URLs. You’ll want to add your keyword into your heading, URL and meta description, which all show on the results page.
- Take a skim read of the posts. Is there anything they’re leaving out, or a question that gets asked lots in the comments? You’ll want to write a comprehensive post that covers information on your keyword more in-depth.
- Check their page structure and don’t forget to add structure to your post. Google loves page structure! This includes adding in H1, H2, H3 etc headings, including dot points, images and anything else that helps to structure your post well. This also makes it easier to read and in turn, increases a reader’s time-on-page. In the next post we’ll look at everything your blog post needs for SEO.
By now you’ve decided on a narrow (or long-tail) keyword to target from your research and have an idea of the outline and length your post should be from your competition research.
Your SEO Keyword Strategy is ready and it’s time to write! For a full guide on the writing-part of creating a blog post that’s fully SEO ready, read this post as your next step.
If you’ve done the above steps and are wondering why you aren’t seeing results, keep in mind that SEO is a long-term game. It may take anywhere from 3-6 months to see real results. If you’ve waited this long and still aren’t seeing an improvement, there could be something else on your website that’s hindering your SEO efforts. Learn about the three SEO ranking factors on your website that have nothing to do with your content.