Finding, Using, And Ranking for Keywords
Beginner Niche Marketer's Guide Vol. 8
Looking back on Volume 7 of my Beginner Niche Marketer’s Guide, I think I may have oversimplified the content creation process and glazed over a few important points about keyword research and ranking your posts in search engines.
As far as content creation goes, watching what others are doing in your niche is a great way to get ideas in the beginning. Once you get your feet under you, you can use your experience, personal opinions, and whatever chatter you pick up in social media to think of an infinite amount of topics to write about.
But what’s the point of all this writing if no one sees it?
A Surprising Realization
Something you need to know is that even without ANY keyword research, your blog posts will get indexed and ranked in Google. You do not have to do anything special for Google to see your website and give you a position in the search engines.
There are many successful bloggers and website owners out there that simply do not do any research. They are well-versed in their niche of choice, and just write about stuff they think is important.
If you are a good writer, your blog posts will naturally be focused, descriptive, and use appropriate language for your topic of choice. If I have a car blog and write a post about how to change a tire on a ’99 Chevy Tahoe, I’m going to talk about changing tires and Chevys in the post. Search engines are going to understand that this is what they should rank me for.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you should stay on topic.
However, when you are an inexperience writer AND unfamiliar with the topic of your niche website, that is when keyword research and using ranking techniques suddenly becomes useful. Knowing an approximate formula to optimize your post for search engines is good to have as a newbie. This can keep you on topic and allow you to write about unfamiliar subjects with a bit of confidence that your writing has a good possibility of getting found.
I don’t do much in the way of search engine optimization, but there are a few basic techniques I use which I’ll probably discuss next time in Volume 9.
Keywords Are Just Guidelines
One huge mistake beginners make when learning keyword research is that they worship and probably even more so, fear it.
Remember that keywords will not make or break a website. You could find 100 high traffic low competition phrases, write low-quality content for it, and not make a dime for your website.
No amount of technique, be it on-page or off-page SEO will guarantee that you rank for your phrase of choice. It’s Google's job to make sure that people cannot manipulate the algorithm and rank for anything they want.
Imagine a world where you could just type in a formula and put your website in any position you want. Sure, it would be great for you, but what about the million other people that want that exact same spot.
So at the end of the day, you have to realize that there is only so much control you have over the rank of a post. YES, there ARE optimization techniques that can give search engines strong hints as to the subject matter of your post. But no, they don’t always do what you want them to do.
With that in mind, I like to think of keywords as guidelines. They tell me which topics are getting the most traffic, and which topics have the lowest competition from other websites. They suggest where I should focus more or less effort.
They don’t tell me how I should run my business!
No, it's not a “guaranteed-to-rank ultimate SEO strategy that skyrockets me to #1 100% of the time” (can you hear the sarcasm there?), but it does allow me the freedom to create a website that's for people, which should be our ultimate goal as business owners.
Top 4 Questions About Keywords
Is This A Good One?
If the keyword makes sense and you think it’s useful to your audience, then yes, it’s a good one. I really don’t care how much traffic it’s getting. Even if 1 person a month finds that post and buys something because of it, that’s 1 sale per month for the next X amount of years my business is in operation.
Every piece of content on your website will be indexed in Google. You might end up ranking for things you didn’t plan on anyway, so it’s worth your time (at some point) to write about this topic. You can write about it now, or write about it later. You can write about it once, or maybe a few times. Those are both good examples of why looking at traffic and competition stats can be important sometimes!
How Do I Use It?
Strategies vary, but mine is very basic:
Keyword Optimization Checklist
- Required: Keyword in title
- Required: Keyword in first paragraph
- Optional: Keyword in h3 tag
- Optional: Keyword in alt tag
- Optional: +1 more keyword in post
That’s it! Surprisingly simple, but it works for me.
Video: Basic Keyword Usage In Blog Posts
This video will come as a shocker to many old-hat SEOs. Most of the time gurus try to sell you a magic SEO pill, but like Dr. Oz's pseudo-science, it rarely works except as a placebo. Don't fall for that crap. You can create a much more natural, equally effective post using these simple rules (and you can see how I do it for free, duh).
Can I Change It?
Many folks will find phrases that are not grammatically correct, but have high traffic, low competition numbers.
The first thing I do when I find something like this is check the stats for the grammatically correct phrase. Some stats may not be 100% legit because people don’t always use correct grammar when searching, but websites more often than not use correct English. That’s why there’s low competition for a phrase using bad grammar even though tons of people are searching for it.
If the numbers still look good and I think I can write a good post on the grammatically correct version of the phrase then I do it.
Even if the numbers aren’t good but I still think it’s useful, I still do it. If it’s low traffic, I might make less effort on the post. For me, that means about 800 words with 1-2 pictures. If it’s high traffic but very high competition too, I will make an extra effort. For me, that means 1200+ words, 3-4 pictures, plus sharing on a few social media channels and attempting to elicit comments.
Video: How I Deal With Bad Grammar Keywords
Why Am I Not Ranking?
There are many reasons a post might not rank for a term you are trying to rank for.
Even a website that’s 2-3 months old and has 5-10 blog posts averaging 400-500 words per post is going to struggle to rank for higher competition phrases. (Note: This is why we go for low-competition keywords in the beginning)
Let’s say you have a 6 month old website and 30 blog posts + 10 pages, averaging 500-1000 words (or more). You write a great post that is probably the best example of content on that particular topic. However, you still aren’t on page 1 of Google!
Again, give it some time. Link back to the post often (within your own website) and you will be surprised how it it climbs the ranks. As more people stumble on your post and read it, if they take actions on the page that gives Google indications that your content is legit, you will gain even more rank.
If they don’t take actions Google likes to see (leave your site), maybe your content isn’t as good as you thought, or people simply like the what other writers are doing better. Look at what your competition is doing, and see if they have some good ideas on how to improve your own site.
What if you have a 2 year old website with 500+ blog posts averaging 1000 words or more (this is my website at the moment). Honestly, I have no idea. Sometimes Google just doesn’t rank me for stuff. I don’t dwell on it. I just move on and write other content.
If my entire business was hinging on the ranking of one of my blog posts then I don’t think that’s a great business plan and I would have to re-think the direction I’m taking my website.
Continuing With Keywords
The two main things you need to do from here on out is figure out how to actually do the research. I use Jaaxy, and that link will take you to a post about the features of Jaaxy, how to use them, and what they are used for.
The other thing you need to know is how to actually write a keyword targeted blog post. If you are an OK writer and know how to write a five-paragraph essay (remember back to high school for Americans), all you need to remember is, “Keyword in the title and keyword in the first paragraph” and you’ll be fine.
If you are struggling with writing, there’s no easy way about it; you need to practice. Do not fear writing bad content. Fear not practicing to get better!
I will eventually create another guide on how to write a keyword targeted post, but I feel that this it’s more of a writing lesson than a keyword lesson. Perhaps that will be BNMG Vol. 10. I’m planning on doing some more specific SEO stuff for Vol. 9, so you can look forward to that!
How do you deal with keywords? Have you ever got ranked on page 1 spot 1 for a phrase you targeted? Have you ever ranked for anything accidentally? I’d love to hear your stories!
Free Live Training Tutorials
Recently I did some live training sessions dedicated to learning about how to pick good keywords and use them in your blog. If you are struggling with keyword research, please watch these videos and see if they can help clarify how I use keywords for my websites.
Keyword Research Session Pt. 1
Other Posts In This Series
- Vol. 1: How to Choose a Good Domain Name
- Vol. 2: Best Hosting For Newbies
- Vol. 3: How to Build a Website for Cheap
- Vol. 4: Choosing a Profitable Niche
- Vol. 5: Get Free, Targeted Traffic
- Vol. 6: Finding Profitable Products
- Vol. 7: What To Write About Next