Are you a new blogger and can't figure out how to get organic traffic to your site? Chances are you aren't using the right SEO keywords. SEO – short for Search Engine Optimization – involves choosing the right word or phrase that people are typing into search engines to find your content. It also involves using that word or word phrase in specific places on your blog to help you get ranked by Google and other search engines. In this post, I will show you exactly how to choose keywords for SEO so you can increase your organic traffic!
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Side note: If you happen to have landed on this post and haven't quite yet started your blog or just getting started and could use some helpful tips, you definitely want to read this post on How to Start a Blog which includes video tutorials and a comprehensive course to walk you thru the steps!
What is SEO and Why is SEO Important
As I mentioned before, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is how you get found by search engines. While we would love for our family and friends to read and follow our blogs, the truth is that most will not because they are not our target audience. There are some very specific and intentional things that you must do to ensure your content found in search results. Choosing the right keyword is the first step. The right keyword is the most searched keyword in Google searches. You have to know how to choose keywords for SEO and not just pick words off the top of your head!
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How to Choose Keywords for SEO
SEO research involves finding the most searched keywords on the internet for a given topic. There are many different ways to say the same thing, which means what people type into the Google search box will vary. Keyword optimization means that you need to choose the word or phrase that other people are typing into that search box (and with a decent amount of search volume). Understanding how to choose keywords for SEO will ensure you pick the right one!
How to Research Keywords
When you are getting ready to write a new post, you must do some research on keywords for the topic you plan to write about. Choosing the wrong SEO keywords will result in little to no organic traffic and that totally defeats the whole point of blogging! You must research keywords and know how to choose keywords for SEO to find the most search keywords so you post will rank for that particular keyword.
1. Write down your planned post topic.
First, write down your planned content topic. This can be as simple as “eating healthy” or can be more complex such as “eating healthy on vacation.”
2. Use a keyword research tool.
The quickest and easiest way to get started with finding the best keywords is to use a keyword research tool. There are several free keyword search tools you can use (I actually use them all for every search).
- Keywords Everywhere – This is a browser extension that you can use for free. Once you install it on your browser, you'll see keyword search volume and competition for every word or phrase that you type into the Google search box. It also provides you with a list of related searches that you can use to narrow down the best keyword for SEO. That list also provides additional related keywords that you'll want to use throughout your post.
- Google Search – When you do a search in Google, you'll often find “related searches” at the very bottom of the page. These phrases might further narrow ideas for the best keyword to use in your post.
- Google Keyword Planner – This is another free keyword research tool that provides a lot of information for you to make a decision on the best keyword to use.
Competitor Keyword Analysis – The best keywords will have a higher search volume and low competition.
3. Choose the Best Keyword
Knowing how to choose keywords for SEO means choosing a long-tail keyword. A long-tail keyword is a longer phrase containing your main keyword. For example, a basic keyword might be “healthy snacks.” A long-tail keyword would be “healthy snacks for kids to take to school.” You will have the best chance at ranking on Page One of Google if you choose a long-tail keyword because it is a very specific search query.
Always try to avoid using a keyword that only has 1-3 words in the phrase. Instead, strive for keywords that are a minimum of 5 words. There will be times, depending on your niche or topic, that you might not find any search volume on phrases longer than 3 words and that is ok. If there is a longer phrase with search volume, however, you will have a much better chance at ranking on Page One of Google if you go with a long-tail keyword.
For more blogging tips, be sure to read:
How to Choose Keywords for SEO and Where to Place Them
Ok, now you know how to choose keywords for SEO, you must also know how to use keywords for SEO (where to put them in the post)! When Google crawls a page, it looks at several different areas to determine the content and rank it. Fortunately, the Yoast SEO Plugin helps you figure that out and lets you know if you missed any areas!
Keyword Optimization – Install Yoast SEO Plugin
While trying to learn how to choose keywords for SEO (and where to put them), the Yoast SEO Plugin is a great tool to have because it helps you put the SEO keywords in the right places and lets you know if you've missed any important areas! When you first install and set up the plugin, you can also add additional metadata for your site such as the image that displays when you share your blog URL on Facebook and what information displays in the text preview. Below is a snapshot of the Yoast SEO section from one of my blog posts. You should fill out these areas BEFORE you begin writing your post. This way you can see if you've missed any of the important areas once you finish writing the post (and edit them).
One common misconception regarding Yoast SEO is that getting the “green light” means your SEO is good to go. That is both right and wrong. The plugin only tells you WHERE to put your SEO Keywords, so even if you choose a keyword that no one is searching for, you will still get the green light if you put that word in all the right places. Knowing how to choose keywords for SEO will ensure you choose the best keywords to produce the traffic results you are hoping to see.
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Keyword Optimization – Post Title
Your SEO keywords must be in your post title! You should also add additional words for context and to resonate with your audience. In my example above, my keyword phrase is “how to increase blog traffic” but my post title is “How to Increase Blog Traffic – Three Mistakes New Bloggers Make.” Leaving it as just the keyword phrase is kind of boring but by adding the second part, it is more eye-catching! This is especially true if your keyword is only one or two words.
Keyword Optimization – Meta Description
The meta description is the snippet of text (short paragraph) that displays in search results. It gives a brief but concise description of what the post is about. Ensure you have your keyword here once or twice. Don't keyword stuff it!! (Keyword stuffing means using your keyword over an over where it doesn't look natural.)
Keyword Optimization – Slug
The slug is what is added to your main URL to form the URL for the post (post permalink). It is important that you have your permalink set to “post name” so each post URL will be in the “blog/post title” format (see image below). If you currently have a different one selected, be sure to also install a redirect plugin after you change it to “post name” to ensure traffic is directed to the correct URL.
Keyword Optimization – Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc)
Just like formatting a term paper or outline, headings are used to separate ideas within the text. They are also used to break up the monotony of reading the smaller text/font of the post content. One mistake new bloggers make is to use the “headings” setting to simply make text larger. Your “headings” should only be used as paragraph headings and should be used in order. Use your H1 only once for your post title or the beginning of your content. After that, use H2 for the remainder of paragraph headings, followed by H3 (or 4, etc) if you have indentations of a subheading of content under a topic. If you want to make certain text within the post larger, do that from your editor dashboard. Depending on your theme, you may need to install a plugin such as TinyMCE Advanced which will add additional options such as font, color, and text size to your editor dashboard.
Keyword Optimization – Post Content
You may find varying answers to the question of how many times should your keyword show up in your post. The Yoast SEO Plugin will give you an indication (red or green light) if whether you are hitting the mark. The worst thing you can do is just paste that keyword all over the post! That is called keyword stuffing and Google will penalize you for it! Simply use the keyword NATURALLY withing the content – meaning do not try to force it into a sentence. It should fit smoothly into a sentence and/or paragraph and not look like it was just thrown in there. This is why it is important to choose your SEO keywords carefully. There may be a version of what you are looking for (a particular phrase) that has high search volume and low competition, but that exact phrase might be difficult to naturally insert into a sentence. Always think about this when researching your keywords!
One more thing regarding your post content – make sure you do a check for grammar and spelling errors! While this may not affect your SEO as a whole, if you accidentally misspell a word in your SEO keyword phrase, that will definitely have an impact. The easiest tool I've found for ensuring my posts are error-free is Grammarly. It is completely free and will give your highly visible red marks where you have mistakes. It is almost like a second set of eyes looking over your work! Install Grammarly now for free!
Keyword Optimization – Images
The final place that requires SEO attention is your images and uploadable files. When you save an image to your computer (to later upload into the post), save it with a file name that includes your SEO keywords. Most images are automatically saved with a file name that has random characters or numbers. Be sure to “save as” and give it the keyword as a name. If you are uploading more than one image, you can save them as “keyword” “keyword 1” “keyword 2” etc. Whatever you name the file, when you upload it to your post, the file name will automatically populate the “title” box. (If you are uploading an image that can be shared on Pinterest, be sure to edit it to have proper capitalization.)
Choosing the Best Keywords for SEO
Now that you understand how to choose keywords for SEO (and where to put them), you can begin drafting blog posts that are keyword optimized. This will tremendously increase your chances of ranking on Page One of Google and getting more organic traffic to your site. If you'd like a little more help with doing SEO research for your blog posts, enroll in my free course – SEO Content Planning Challenge.
If you are a brand new woman blogger, be sure to join my Girl Bosses Rock Blogging Bootcamp Facebook group! We do a ton of training on everything related to getting your blog up and going, setting up your email, how to monetize, and more! This group was created specifically for women who are completely lost on this blogging stuff so you can learn and start making money with your blog. You can also check out my beginner's blogging course Get Your Blog On, which literally walks you through the steps of setting it up, navigating your dashboard, connecting and setting up your email and optin forms, social media, and ways to monetize a new blog. Almost every lesson includes a video tutorial to walk you through the steps!
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