Using Keywords to Kill Crickets; Help the Right People Find Your Blog–A Lot More People
You want readers. Desperately.
So you start out emailing your friends and sharing your blog posts on social media… Mom, uncle Bob, and your BFF subscribe and leave a “great job” comment.
Then you hear crickets.
How do you get more readers? Answer: Get real close and personal with something called keywords.
Begin Where Everyone Starts: a Search Engine
When people want to find something about fashion, or travel, or food, whatever the topic, they go to Google or Bing. Next, they start typing words or phrases into the search engine like this… Or this.. Or this… Keywords and key phrases are the words and terms people are using to find specific information. Do you know what keywords your blog needs to help people find you?
Example: How Using Keywords Can Help a Food Blogger
Using the “escargot recipe” photo above to illustrate, one obvious keyword for a Foodie Blogger would be recipes…but that word alone won’t help you get found in a search engine nearly as powerfully as “escargot recipes.” Do you see why? Just think about how many web pages and blogs are using “recipe” as a keyword…billions, right? So when you expand that keyword to a short key phrase like “escargot recipes”, getting more specific helps narrow down the amount of competition that will show up in search results. Thus, helping people find YOUR escargot recipe. Think about the person you are trying to help find your blog…someone who WANTS to find your escargot recipe is going to get 251,000 results if they type the singular “escargot recipe” into Google, and they will get 222,000 search results if they type the plural “escargot recipes”. Yikes. Granted, a couple hundred thousand is better than the 484,000 results you get when only “recipes” is searched in Google. (363,000 when you take off the “s” and search “recipe”.) Yet, your escargot recipe page is still going to be hard to find. You see, most people never even click on the 2nd search results page when they’re looking for something. This is why you want to get even more specific with your keywords by adding more to them, which turns them into long tail key phrases. Take another look at the “escargot recipes” photo above…do you see how it drops down from “escargot recipes” and shows you “escargot recipes with cheese“, “escargot recipes without shell” and “escargot recipes puff pastry“… Google is letting you know that these key phrases are the most searched phrases next to “escargot recipes.” So, to continue the example, if you post an escargot recipe without the shells, to help your post get found, you might want to use a long tail keyword phrase, perhaps one like this: “quick and dirty escargot recipe without shell using south American snails”, the result would look like this: As you can see, when you search for this more specifically, not only did the page count get drastically reduced, you can also see by the first page of the search results that there really isn’t anyone else who has posted this specific recipe using a similar long tail key phrase. So if this really is a specific recipe people are interested in (I’m not a French cuisine expert so I’m not sure, I just made up the part about south American snails for the sake of example), your blog could be ranked on page one of Google. Wouldn’t that be sweet? This is why its important to have at least a rudimentary understanding of keywords. These keywords, when used effectively, will help people out there in cyberspace find YOUR blog before they find someone else’s blog. Keywords help your ranking in search engines because they give out signals that your site is credible, reliable, and worthwhile.
But Matt, I’m still not sure what a keyword is?
In a nutshell, keywords, or key phrases, are terms that help a search engine identify your web page or blog post. Without keywords or key phrases, your article might as well be tied to an anvil and thrown into the sea because nobody is going to find it. This all works on basic common sense connecting of topics and terms. To drive this home, here’s another example: you would expect a book about lawn care to contain the word “grass” a whole lot, correct? The same applies online. Since you’re not selling an actual book made out of trees, and instead are wanting your blog to be read, you must use keywords to help people find your “book” (blog.) A blog devoted to lawn care is going to have the word “grass” on it many times. This one word alone helps search engines categorize and identify the site, but that one word alone isn’t enough to bring in the RIGHT people to the blog. For example, someone doing a search on “grass” might not give a flip about lawn care at all….they might be looking for information about cannabis or studying electronics (specifically the small variations in amplitude of an oscilloscope display caused by electrical noise.) So, you’ll need more keywords than just “grass.” See how this works? A lawn care blog or any blog is going to need a large batch of key words and key phrases to help form the metadata needed for the search engines like Google to label and categorize the blog, which of course, helps people find what the blog offers. Another way to see this–your keywords are working to help you convince the search engines that your blog is credible, valuable, and deserving attention. For example, someone with a Foodie Blog is going to want their website to be categorized as such, so doing this beginner’s exercise below will be beneficial.
First Keyword Exercise: Create a List of Keywords and Key Phrases for YOUR Blog
Now comes the fun part, where you get to roll up your sleeves and do some work. Yep. Becoming an All-World Blogger takes some effort. Is this really work? If you’re excited about your blog niche, you’re going to enjoy building your keyword list. Basically, you’re going to take your laptop to a coffee shop or your tablet to the beach and do some fun brainstorming. What you want to do is make a list of topics that you would want to talk about on your blog because other people are going to be searching for this information. You want to come up with at least 5 to 15 topics or categories. For example, if you are starting a travel blog, you would come up with some topics like Continents, Airlines, Hotels, Beaches, Jungles, Saving Money on Vacation Tips Next, start jotting down keywords and long tail key phrases for each category. For instance, a travel blogger might come up with these keywords/phrases for the Saving Money on Vacation Tips: Saving Money at Disneyworld, Tips on Finding the Cheapest Hotels in Europe, and How to Eat on a Budget in Germany.
Fun Brainstorming Activities that Help You Find Keywords
A) Use your marketing personas – Have you created your own marketing personas yet? I can help you do this here and this exercise here will help you come up with keywords using your personas. B) Visit Forums related to your niche – By reading what others are talking about in your niche, you can glean a lot of keywords doing this. Naturally, you can use Google to locate these forums by typing in “your niche” + “forum.” Example: “Foodie Blogger” + “forum”. Or you can use this specialized search engine for forums called Board Reader dot com. You will then see a list of forums that provide you with a bunch of niche markets… Then dig deeper by checking some of the threads on each forum. I clicked on the sgforums dot com (the second one above) and found some keyword phrases… I now have keyword phrases Foodie Lunch pics, Foodie Singapore and Foodie marriages C) Use Wikipedia Search – many use this site for research, but overlook its ability to provide some great keywords. You can use it like this: Next, you can check out the links under Contents on the Foodie page… You can also dive into the References section to find more great keywords…
The Goal of Lesson 1
The Point of this first exercise on Keyword Research is for you to collect as many keywords as you can, without over-thinking things. This is all about finding phrases that you think potential blog readers will be typing into a search engine to find what you have on your blog. One of the parts to the next lesson is going to be showing you how you can then cut down your list so that its more focused, potent and easy-to-use. I’m intentionally taking you through this process step-by-step, so as not to overwhelm you. I suggest you not read Lesson 2 until you have finished this lesson first. (At the moment, Step 2 isn’t up yet, so you can’t anyway. 🙂 What you want to end up with is a good mix of both short tail and long tail key words. Usually the short tail phrases are much more competitive, like the examples above demonstrated. yet a short phrase of two to three words can provide short-term success, so don’t rule them out.
Using Keywords Wrap Up
If you put some time and effort into this first exercise, you can avoid the sound of crickets over this next year. Spending time wrapping your mind around keywords will pay off for you if you ACT on this free teaching. At a minimum, you should spend at least 3 to 4 days on brainstorming your keywords. Don’t feel bad if you end up spending a week or more on this. One week is nothing when you’re prepared to run a marathon with your website. Blog success is a long game. Getting into a routine of keyword research will contribute to your future blog success years from now. Please do yourself a favor and DO Lesson 1 here. Blowing this off only hurts yourself. If this post has you motivated, excited and ready to kick tail, be sure to share this post with your friends. I would greatly appreciate it. And tell me about how you’re going to conquer new blogging mountains in the comments. If something is not clear to you, I want to hear from you! Don’t be shy! Leave a comment below! Oh, if you want to make sure you don’t miss Lesson 2 on keyword research (coming soon), subscribe to my email newsletter in the sidebar or footer. Now go kill some crickets.
Photo: Cricket by Ryan Hodnett