Want to know how we decided on writing a blog about keyword research?

Yep. We did keyword research.

It goes without saying that research is essential to modern marketing. But despite the all-importance of this SEO technique, there’s no universal way to figure out the best course of action. Different websites will require vastly different keyword research strategies, depending on their goals, budgets and website authority.

The perfect storm is when you find a niche you’re successful in, write great content within that niche, and are rewarded by dominating the search results for that topic. It’s generally accepted that long-tail keywords (e.g. “tips for small business blog topic research”) are better to use than broad keywords (e.g. “blog topic research”), and by digging into those niche areas you’ll find a more committed following for your digital platforms.

It can be exhausting, and you’ll think of every blog topic as a gamble. Sometimes you’ll succeed where you didn’t think you would; other times, you’ll fail when you thought you had nailed it.

But there’s good news, too. Blog topic research isn’t a standalone endeavor. Whenever you research viable topics for your blog, you’re also looking for SEO keywords that will inspire more posts and even Google Adwords terms that you can benefit from on the pay-per-click advertising side of things. Nothing stands alone in the digital world.

So here’s a quick four-step strategy for researching your next blog post.

1. Start with broad keywords, and expand out to long-tail keywords.

Start with what are called “seed keywords”—broad words that relate to your topic, but are too broad to actually try and rank for.

 

keyword research

 

There are too many keyword research options to name here: you can use a free online tool, a paid software, a free online version of that paid software, or just Google’s auto-fill search box. For the latter, just type in part of your search term and Google will reply with the most popular real-time results. It’s a handy (and free!) way to generate ideas.

Pro tip: you can also insert two underscores in Google to create a blank space, which will also help you come up with blog topic ideas.

 

keyword research

Once you have your seed terms sketched out, you can find your long-tail keywords that will inspire your next blog post—after all, they’re based on things people actually want to know.

2: See where success comes from—and imitate it.

Dig into your analytics and see what terms you already rank for. You can use Google Analytics to see how Google searchers are coming to your site, even if you can’t always use it to see exactly what terms are bringing them there.

Google Analytics will show SEO search terms as (not provided), but you can at least see what pages they’re landing on by setting the Secondary Dimension to “Landing Page.” That should give you a sense of what terms are working for you and help you try and recreate that success.

 

keyword research

 

You can also use online tools to see exactly what search terms your competitors are using to rank highly. Google’s Keyword Explorer, which you should get familiar with if you’re integrating your blog topic research into PPC keywords, allows you to search for ideas for any URL, including your competitors—you can use this to see where others are capitalizing in areas you’re missing.

3: Study Keyword Metrics.

You can learn a lot from keyword analytics. You’ll need a tool for it (many are paid), but they will help show you which keywords result in actual click-throughs to the websites that are popping up.

For example, an increasing number of Google search results are answered immediately by cards that Google presents at the top.

 

keyword metrics

If you’re trying to rank for some of these keywords, your content could even appear on page one of Google and suffer a low CTR.

Other result pages are dominated by paid ads; you can see which these are on Google’s Keyword Planner. It’s another benefit to finding the right long-tail keywords—by capitalizing on more specific search terms, you’ll eschew the monolithic stronghold Google has on its most popular terms.

4: Analyze your keywords by grouping them together.

Seeing which pages rank highly and how often you get SEO results is one thing. But looking at bigger trends requires a broader scale of analysis.

Group your keywords together to get a macro sense of how they’re working for you. You can achieve this any number of ways: group them together by conversion goal, correlating theme or user intent. Any of these options will help you see them in a different light.

The idea is to understand how your keywords and blog posts are performing, as well as what content direction your company should take overall. You’ll get a better sense of how people are finding you, how much they care about you and where you’re missing opportunities if you take a step back and look at the data holistically.