Wednesday, 30 November 2016

How to Find Blog Post Ideas using Keyword Research

One of the most useful aspects of keyword research is as a guided brainstorming tool to help find blog post ideas that are valuable and useful, and above all, popular.

As long as you follow a process, you can almost guarantee never to run out of ideas. However, the process also needs to deal with ways to track and organise those ideas and topics so that you can make the best use of them.

Luckily, popular blog platforms such as Blogger and WordPress, as well as tools like Search Console, Analytics and Stat Counter can all be used to help you make sure that you are getting the best out of the keyword research and blog idea generation process.

How to Get Blog Post Ideas

The following is a simple, pretty unrefined process that ought to serve as a great starting point for generating a simple blog post. Before you begin you need to identify your Root Keyword Phrase, which can just be a single word, to represent the part of your niche tat you want to write about.

For example, for this post (you don't think I do these things in the dark, do you?) I simply chose the word 'blog' and picked the first phrase that fitted from a simple Keyword Planner search, ordered by Volume.

I ended up with 'blog post'.

Next, head on over to KeywordTool.io, and type in your Root Keyword Phrase, copy the result list to the clipboard, and paste it into the Keyword Planner. Do another search, then select, this time by a combination of Volume and CPC, the most appropriate result: this is your Target Keyword Phrase.

In this case, I chose 'blog post ideas'. Topical.

Finally, go to the AnswerThePublic.com web site, and enter your Target Keyword Phrase and hit Search. From the resulting collection of Questions, Prepositions and Alphabetically Listed results, you need to select the best 4 to use as H2 Headings, and one to use as the Title.

Simply put these into blank blog post, and write 500-700 words of great content!

Of course, what's likely to happen is that you get distracted by lots of shiny new objects in the form of rather attractive keyword phrases.

It would be a shame to discard them completely, so instead it's a good idea to organise them for future use.

How to Organise Blog Post Ideas

Typically, you will end up with groups of blog post ideas:
  • questions - "where to get blog post ideas"
  • how-to's - "how to get blog post ideas"
  • reviews - "what's the best blog platform"
  • discussions - "should I blog for business"
  • etc.
The trick is to separate them out into Titles and H2 Headings. I like to use a mind map to group the H2 Headings under the Titles; as well as making sure that I pay attention to where, when, and how they have been used.

Tracking them in this way has two advantages: one, you know which ones are generating traffic, and secondly, you can interlink pieces according to topics, to generate a web of content that will be picked up by search engines.

How to Track Blog Post Ideas

Tracking goes beyond whether you've used an idea: you also need to keep account of how many articles it appears in, what the competition was at the time it was 'discovered', and what the traffic generation (acquisition) profile has been.

For example, for my target keyword phrase 'how to find blog post ideas' I know that there are 8,740 results in Google's UK database. I also know that there's about 100 searches for this exact phrase every month.

At the same time, I know that for "blog post ideas", there's about 10,000 searches, at an average anticipated cost per click (thanks Keyword Planner!) of around £1.

As yet, though, this post has not generated any traffic, according to Analytics, nor has it been viewed in search engine results pages (SERPs) according to the Search Console.

These are all metrics that you should track in order to create a picture of the success of each blog post.

Blog Post Ideas for Businesses

Top of the list has to be FAQs, or Frequently Asked Questions, about your products, brand, services, etc. I have another phrase for FAQs, though, and that's Fairly Anticipated Questions: the hint is in the title -- don't wait for the questions, use AnswerThePublic to actively look for them.

Obviously how-to's are another great subject: especially if they can be linked to subsidiary products, or repeat purchases and alternative uses for your products or services. Again, though, don't forget to do the keyword research to establish demand, and include CTAs (Call to Action) on each carefully-tuned page.

Another important one is the checklist post. These include lists of items that you believe customers should be doing. Each one has to be a carefully constructed keyword phrase, however, in order to get the best performance from the post.

Finally, reviews, previews, and industry news commentary are all very good blog post ideas for businesses. Use keyword research to find blog post ideas by combining root keyword phrases together and using them as search queries in Google.

Scroll right down to the bottom for a selection of Google-suggested blog post ideas!

For more ideas, get The Niche Blogger Content Blueprint for tips, ideas, processes and repeatable procedures that will help you to generate, track and test blog posts that are based on real world keyword research.

Happy blogging!


Monday, 28 November 2016

Defining a Basic Keyword Research Process

A basic keyword research process must start with an understanding of:

  • What the goals are;
  • Where the keywords are to be used;
  • How a successful campaign will be measured.

If you can answer thee questions, then you stand a chance of being able to develop your own repeatable keyword research process. It is important that the process is both repeatable and measurable, as well as being easy to perform.

Unless you are outsourcing your keyword research tasks, you should aim to keep the process simple, and constrained. It is easy to waste a lot of effort trying to uncover the next big thing in your niche, but if you keep the focus narrow, you stand a greater chance of success.

What Are Your Keyword Research Goals?

The first thing to ascertain is what you want to use the keyword research for, as this will influence the tools and processes that you use. For example, you could want to get more traffic, in which case your evaluation of keywords will be skewed towards Search Volume.

On the other hand, if you want to increase conversion rates (get more sales), then a slightly more sophisticated approach needs to be taken, where you identify trigger words as well as identifying phrases associated with higher Cost Per Click figures.

A higher CPC usually means that there is money in the niche available for advertising, but the other side of the coin is that you might be looking for ways to reduce advertising expenses. Therefore, looking for High Volume, Low CPC keywords will also play a part in the research process.

Where Are The Keywords to be Used?

Having decided what the outcome should be, you then need to consider where the keyword phrases will be used. Clearly the two questions are linked, most obviously through the use of keyword phrases in a PPC campaign.

This will lead to different selections than, for example, keywords that are to be used for on-page SEO (search engine optimisation).

And, off-page SEO (inbound marketing) use will also influence the choice of keyword phrases, especially in relation to trigger words, and words which enhance brand image.

How Will You Measure Success?

Finally, in order to know if the keyword research process has worked, you need to be able to measure the impact of using the keywords. Common measures include:

  • Engagement - how much traffic, how many repeat visitors, ratio of repeat visitors to sales, etc.
  • Stickiness - when visitors land on the site, how long do they spend engaging with it?
  • Hits - the raw number of visits / per page.
  • Conversions - how many visitors become customers?

There are other important measures, but if you at least concentrate on one or two of the above in the first instance, you will begin to see the benefits of the keyword research process. It is an investment in your underlying business, rather than the bolt-on that many people seem to see it as.

However, to enjoy those benefits, a proper process must be followed.

Define an Appropriate Keyword Research Process

The process itself will have four phases:

  • Research - defining the root keyword phrases;
  • Expand - taking each root keyword phrase and finding long tail keyword phrases;
  • Analyse - checking the past performance of each phrase;
  • Deploy - put the keywords to use, and check the results!

To help in the Research phase, I've listed my favourite free keyword generator tools, with a brief how-to for each. In order to help you Expand into a complete basket of keywords, the long tail keyword generator process explained on the blog is an excellent starting point.

The techniques from the Research ad Expand phases also contain elements that enable you to Analyse keywords: for example, extensive use is made of tools such as the Keyword Planner (AdWords) to help determine search volume and anticipated cost per click.

Finally, the Deploy phase is all about using the keywords and seeing what effect they have. It doesn't need to be complex, but it is important that you stick with a defined process in order to generate repeatable results.

My advice is to start with The Keyword Coach PDCA / Smart goal setting process tailored to keyword research, and extend it according to your own needs. The best way to get started is by actually running a small project and seeing where your niche and business will benefit most from an integrated basic keyword research process.

Friday, 25 November 2016

What is Keyword Research: A Definition for Modern SEO

If you type "what is keyword research" into a search engine, you get a flood of results. Here are a few quotes:

"Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research actual search terms that people enter into search engines." Wikipedia page on Keyword Research
"Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field" from the MOZ Guide to SEO

"keyword research tools can help you find the right keywords to optimize a website for search engine users." from Wordstream.com.

All of these are good quotes, but they only really scratch the surface. Keyword  research is much more than just finding the right keywords...


Keyword Research is Market Research

Your future customers use keywords to communicate with the world: when they go to a search engine and type in a query, they are looking for a solution to a problem. They're looking for something that may or may not already exist; if it exists you can sell it to them, if it doesn't, you can create it.

The combination of words is also important, because each word can carry both meaning and intent.

For example, consider the difference between the following:

  • "free eBooks about online investing"
  • "where to buy books about online investing"

The sales pitch for an online investing course will be very different, depending on which of those phrases delivered the visitor. Learning how to gauge intent is a valuable part of the keyword research process.

The proportion of "buyer intent" keywords versus "buyer research" ones will help to give you an idea about the size of the market as well as its needs.

Keyword Research is Product Research

From the above example, we can also surmise that people want both eBooks and real books. There are people willing to pay, and those who want to sample a free eBook first.

However, there will be a number of phrases that don't come loaded with any intent. These so-called "buyer research" phrases provide valuable insights into what products exist, and what skews might be considered.

By combining brand and product names with your keyword phrase, you can begin to work out the demand for various product skews, as well as look at those already on the market. Once you find a product that satisfies the market, there are also techniques that you can use to extract the keywords from the page to see what the maker is using to attract customers, as well as find out about the competition.

Keyword Research is Competition Research

Using a tool such as SEMRush can help with both the Market and Product Research, but is really good at finding out where the competition is, and what they are using to create opportunities.

Again, intent can be inferred from some of the keyword research, as words like "review", "problems" and "good" (or, indeed "bad") can help to create a picture of how the competition is viewed, and how it might be succeeding (or failing) to satisfy the market.

Keyword Research is also for SEO

Finally, the purpose of keyword research for many people is not to find a new market, or design new products, but to attract people willing to spend money.

The keywords you use in your web content are just another form of communication. You are communicating what your page is about to the search engines, as well as proving its value.

Picking the right keywords helps search engines match the intent of search users with your intent as a content producer. Get it wrong, and your site may never be viewed by a single potential customer; get it right and you may well tap into a market larger than you thought possible.

Learn more about keyword research in the Niche Blogger Content Blueprint; a guide not just for bloggers but anyone who wants to create an online presence.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A Simple Free Long Tail Keyword Generator Process

There are a number of keyword generator services available on the web these days -- from KeywordTool.io to AnswerTheAudience.com -- but all that these do is produce what SearchEngineLand's Nate Dame recently called "long lists of words and phrases ... that can dramatically increase nothing about an SEO strategy." (Source: Why You Should Never Do Keyword Research Again).

Using a keyword analysis tool like Keyword Planner helps, but even it cannot weed out the irrelevant as it is only really designed to tell you what you already suspect: some phrases have more volume than others.

In fact, keyword definition strategy needs to take account of many factors, including working out what keywords people actually use, and then evaluating them from there. Traditional methods like brainstorming just don't cut it any more, and generic one and two word phrases are too competitive to even think about targeting.

However, follow this five step keyword generator process, and you will at least start out on a reasonably solid base!

Step 1: Determine Your Root Keyword Phrase

This step is quite important, but needs to be fairly instinctive. The root keyword phrase has to sum up something that is a bit more narrow than just a niche word (diet, health, money, etc.) and yet not too narrow that you start to preclude possibly useful variations.

Step 2: Extract Search Suggestions

Having decided what it is you want to know about, you can then visit Google and type in your root keyword phrase. Put your blinkers on, and ignore all the results, and scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you'll find a list of suggestions.

Harvest these for the next step (highlight, hit Ctrl-C, open up Notepad, hit Ctrl-V, and you're done -- Mac, Chrome and Linux users will have to use their own equivalents!)

Step 3: Use a Keyword Analysis Tool

Open up the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool, and select the "Get ideas" option. Copy and paste your list of suggested keyword phrases into the box, and set up your geographic, language, timescale, and most importantly, set the match to "Narrow" (and not "Broad").

Step 4: Select By Volume or Value

In the resulting list, click a column heading to either order the results by "Avg. Monthly Searches" or "Suggested Bid". More advanced users can download the results, and use a formula to created a weighted version of these numbers in order to add a little finesse to the filtering process.

Step 5: Maintain Your Keyword List!

Take the top 10 results, which ought to be fairly long tail (i.e. three to four words long) and specific, and use these either as-is, or as root keyword phrases. My own preference is to first use them, note them in a spreadsheet, and generate new phrases (which also go into the spreadsheet).

Once I have a list to maintain, I can see what keyword phrases attract traffic, and which ones don't. Then, it's back through the process from time to time to generate some more.

Refinements include: seasonality tests, analysis of landing pages (to check the right keywords are being picked up) and near constant observation of behaviour using Analytics and Search Console. But those processes are for another day.

(And yes, before you ask, this article was entirely created around its own process; no prizes for picking out the long tail keyword phrases that were generated along the way!)

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Strategic Management + Search Engine Marketing = Strategic Keyword Marketing

Today, I'm coining a phrase: strategic keyword marketing.

It might not be the catchiest catch-phrase out there, but understanding it is vital to your business; be it online, offline or hybrid. At least, that's my position: and I'll do my best to explain it to you in the next few hundred words.

It all starts with marketing, and as discussed in "The Marketing Book" by Michael Baker and Susan Hart (an excellent read if you really want to get into the guts of modern marketing), the fact that a lot of people miss out on the opportunities offered by marketing.

The reason is that marketing is one of those iceberg topics, where we all see the tip, and try to base our marketing around that, without a deeper understanding of 75% of what goes into a proper marketing plan.

For the record, the iceberg idea, as applied to marketing, is presented by Baker & Hart on page 5 in the very first chapter What is Marketing? It's that important.

They also identify three items at the tip:
  • Advertising
  • Promotions
  • PR
These are the obvious external signs of a marketing campaign. A campaign.

As consumers, that's all we every really see: the adverts, the money off promotions and the PR stunts or press releases.

The rest, all of which has been vital in getting the organisation to the point at which they can construct adverts, promotions and manage the PR around a product launch, is below the marketing iceberg's waterline.

Those activities are aligned with their strategic marketing efforts, and consumers never really see them.

Strategic Marketing

Any organisation, from a one person blogger pushing products as an affiliate, through to international, multi-tiered behemoths that have become something of a hallmark of globalisation need to have some kind of strategy.

There are many strategies, and this isn't the place to go into them all.

Everything from a low-price, high volume discount through to a high price, low volume, quality differentiated product line represents a strategy. And, all aspects of a business need to align with a central strategy, that is usually linked to a core vision and mission statement.

In "Applied Strategic Marketing", by du Plessis, Jooste and Strydom, the field of strategic management (which pulls together all the aspects of a strategy) is merged with that of marketing to give a marketer's viewpoint of the development of strategy.

Specifically of interest is how the below-the-waterline stuff relates to an ongoing strategy. This includes:
  • Selling
  • Market Testing
  • Innovation & New Product Development
  • Identification of Marketing Opportunities
  • Market Intelligence
  • Researching Customer's Needs
(List adapted from Baker & Hart)

All of the above need to be aligned in order to derive competitive advantage from the marketing activity. Advertising, Promotions and PR are important, too, but the business is won or lost on the basis of the other stuff.

So, what does this mean for modern business?

Search Engine Marketing

One of the most popular ways for dynamic, modern businesses to satisfy the tip of the iceberg is by engaging in search engine marketing, and there are any number of SEO and search engine marketing books to choose from that will help you construct an entirely online-biased business view.

That's okay, as far as it goes: but it doesn't really deal with the strategy behind the advertising or promotional push.

Current books deal with the nuts and bolts. How to get ranked. What keyword phrases to target. Where to try and get back-links from for best effect. How to create content, where to post it, and, importantly, how to get your message across.

This is all important stuff, but worthless if you get the underlying product, market and customer needs wrong.

Enter strategic keyword marketing.

Strategic Keyword Marketing

The one thing that ties this all together is keyword research. But, on its own, KWR isn't enough; it's just a series of tools and methods to work out what the target market is trying to communicate to us, the entrepreneurs.

Keywords are a means of communication. We use them to communicate with search engines, to tell them what we're about. Our customers use them to communicate with search engines to tell them what they want.

Our advertising copy uses keywords to impress on the customer the value of our products.

Keywords, trigger words, words that allow us to imply buyer intent: these are all important things to research, track, and make part of an integrated online, offline, or hybrid marketing strategy.

Even if you don't have a web site, strategic keyword marketing is vital for the insights that it gives you into your market, and your future markets.

All aspects of the marketing iceberg can be influenced and enhanced by a proper understanding of strategic keyword marketing.

As more and more people use online means to communicate, research, and reveal their wants, needs, and desires, it is up to us to make sure that we tap into this cheap, reliable business and market intelligence resource.

That's why I'm writing the book on Strategic Keyword Marketing.

To get on the list, and receive the discounted version of the book, just join The Keyword Coach private mastermind group on Facebook. Let's unlock your web site's true potential as a strategic marketing asset.

(And make you some real money at the same time!)