Far too many school marketers neglect to follow a strategy for choosing and selecting the best keywords for their blog posts. In the cut-throat world of search engine optimization (SEO), where ranking on the first page of the Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP), it can be a costly mistake. By the same token, understanding how to select the best keywords can have a tremendous difference in the amount of inbound traffic that will find your blog post.
In order to specify the best keywords, you need to understand the keyword research process, take advantage of SEO keyword research tools and, of course, place your keywords in the correct locations.
SEO is a core marketing activity. Having success with keywords requires that you have an in-depth understanding of who your target audiences are and your message. Click here for How to Conduct a Social Media Audience Analysis for Your School…
Every search is an expression of people’s needs, wants, interest and desires. Your keyword strategy will help you analyze search trends and find search terms that are related to your school’s target audience and message.
Here are 6 simple steps to take to ensure you are using the best keywords to attract traffic to your blog.
Step 1. Get Keyword Suggestions
Google has more search data than any other entity, so start by getting keyword suggestions from Google.
Use the Google suggest tool by typing a phrase into the Google search field. Google is guessing what you need based on the popularity of past searches. Obviously, this will only take you so far, but it can be a starting point. You might find a keyword that makes sense and start working with it. For example, if I start typing in “find blog topics” Google suggest brings up:
- find blog topics
- find trending blog topics
- ways to find blog topics
- best way to find blog topics
Google Trends uses historical data to supply a representation of searches over time. You can choose from several different filtering options, such as region, time frame, categories and more. Google Trends is a powerful tool for researching regional or local search insights. Google Trends includes a comparison feature that allows you to compare keywords or phrases over time and in different regions, giving you a visualization of the performance of each term. Google trends is a valuable tool to help you find popular keywords over time and in specific areas.
The Google Adwords Keyword Planner was designed to serve the needs of Google Adwords pay-per-click (PPC) customers. However, anyone can create a Google Adwords account and access the Keyword Planner for free.
The benefit of using Google’s keyword planner is the extensive amount of data accessible. It will help you gather the volume of search data for each keyword you enter as well as discover related keywords. You can enter an idea (or several ideas) and the keyword tool will generate up to 800 suggestions collected from Google’s massive database.
Google Searches Related To
Gather more keyword suggestions from Google by looking at the bottom of your SERP. Google will generate more ideas that will link to a new SERP. Try using these related phrases in a variety of ways:
- Select one as your focus keyword
- Use one or more of the phrases in your post for semantic search purposes
- Use one of these topics and start your search over
KeywordTool.io is Google Suggest on steroids. This tool will help you discover thousands of long-tail keywords so you can begin to build your keyword strategy. Long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that contain three or more words. These are going to be more specific and therefore more likely to attract your target audience.
Step #2. Find Related Questions
The most successful bloggers think of every search as a question in the mind of the searcher. For example, the question I suspect in the back of the minds of the readers of this blog post might be “How can I easily research better keywords for my school’s blog posts?” Understanding the question behind the search will help you choose the best keywords for your post.
There are several research tools that deliver questions people ask search engines.
AnswerThePublic is one of my favorite free tools. Enter a keyword or phrase and the tool returns a visualization or data list of related questions that have been asked of search engines. The results can be sorted, saved, downloaded and shared.
If I enter “blog topics” into the search bar, Answer The Public provides 18 questions, 67 preposition, 15 comparisons, 360 alphabeticals and 20 related questions.
Quora is a forum where people can ask – and answer – almost any question imaginable. Most of the time you can find a wide variety of questions related to your keyword as well as some very good answers that you can use to start researching your blog post.
Answers is very similar to Quora. One very nice feature of Answers is the Advanced Search, where you can add or omit a keyword or phrase. You can also specify if a Question has been answered or not, and whether you want an exact match or not.
Step #3. Conduct More Topic Research
There are other tools you can use to discover popular topics people search for on the internet. Here are some of my favorites:
Enter your keyword into the search field. Buzzsumo will generate the most popular blog titles for that keyword as well as the number of shares on different social media sites. You can also use filters to search by date and type of content, including infographics, articles, guest posts, interviews, videos, etc. Click here to view Moz article on how to dive deeper using Buzzsumo to generate content ideas.
Everyone knows about Wikipedia. Wikipedia can be a powerful library of SEO resource and ideas. Based on the thousands of minds that contribute to Wikipedia, it uses language the way people do. Go to the Contents section on the page you searched and more likely than not, you’ll find great new ideas.
Do a search for an e-book in Amazon, or any book e-tailer, using your keyword. Much of the time a sneak preview is offered, called “Look Inside”. Quite often, a Table of Contents is visible, giving you a plethora of ideas for topics.
Similar to using book Table of Contents for topic ideas, go to Udemy or any other online course resource. Search using your keyword and a list of courses should generate. Open a course listing and a “course content” list appears, giving you lots of topic ideas. Furthermore, a list of additional courses related to the one you are viewing will be viewable, giving you many more options for topic research.
Reviews of books, courses and products are another place to research topic ideas. Often, reviews are loaded with potential keywords, including ones you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
Step #4. Analyze Your Keyword Choices
By this point, you should have a good idea of your keyword strategy. Using the tools and tips listed above, you likely have assembled many ideas for your SEO tactics as well as specific blog post topics you’d like to consider. The next step is to narrow down your keywords and topics according to how well each are likely to perform.
Here’s what to look for:
Make sure your keywords will attract the right audience.
This probably seems like a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised at how many marketers don’t take the time to really think about who is going to be attracted to a particular keyword. For example, if you’re trying to attract a high net worth audience, don’t use words like “free” or “low-cost”.
Consider the competition.
When it comes to ranking for keywords, competition matters. Using Google Keyword Planner you can see whether there is high, medium or low competition for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. The goal is to find keywords that are relevant to your school, aren’t too competitive but still provide enough traffic to be worth the effort.
Look for keywords that are not highly competitive but still have volume.
Obviously, the worst thing you can do is target keywords that don’t have any volume at all.
However, just because there is low volume, doesn’t mean it’s not a good keyword. This is because most pages that rank in Google Keyword Planner probably ranks for hundreds or more variations. If you see 10 searches or more a month on average for an exact match phrase, you can assume that hundreds of people are searching for the general topic. Often keywords that are in your sweet spot are going to be long-tail keywords.
The free version of Keyword Explorer is very helpful in terms of analyzing keywords. Start by entering your keyword in the search bar and then click on the search button. This gives you a overview, keyword suggestions and top-ranking blog posts. From the left-hand column click on Keyword Suggestions and then click on Monthly Volume (either low to high or high to low). You can also rank on Relevancy as well as Search for related keywords. In general, if a domain authority is greater than the keyword difficulty, you have a chance of ranking for the keyword phrase.
Step #5. Pay Attention to Semantics
Semantics is all about the meanings of words. It usually refers to situations where people don’t quite grasp the meaning of a word or message due to the connotation or word selection. Google has gotten really good with semantics, that is understanding the question behind the search that was entered into the Google search bar. The algorithm has evolved to become a semantic search engine. When someone enters a question or keyword, Google knows to search for more than the exact words they typed in, but also what the algorithm knows will be meaningful to the inquirer. Because Google delivers results that are linked semantically, I recommend you target broad topics that make sense to your audience.
Step #6. Write and Optimize Your Blog Headline and Post
Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing your keyword-targeted post.
- I recommend using a SEO plugin/widget to help keep you on track with your on-site SEO. I use Yoast SEO Premium and have found it to be a great tool.
- Don’t forget to use your keyword in the title tag. It’s a key signal for search engines.
- Even if you’re doing a video post, include text on the page. Use your keyword and relevant variations on your keyword in the text.
- Use the keyword in the appropriate meta tags, such as the meta description (this is the text that generates on the SERP when someone searches for your keyword. Also try to include your keyword in the alt text of your images.
- Use internal linking to your advantage. Link to other pages on your website that are relevant to your topic.
- Double-down on your keywords. That is, optimize your posts – especially your title – for overlapping phrases and multiple keywords. So when you have, say, three keyword phrases, try to incorporate all of them into one title.
Let’s say you have these three keywords:
- Blog ideas
- Blog titles
- Blog topics
Your title might become:
Blog Ideas, Titles and Topics to Capture More Inquiries
See what I did there?
In this case, your blog post should rank high for all three keywords, blog topic ideas, titles and topics.
Keyword research is an important part of optimizing your content for search engines. Keyword research becomes a natural part of content creation once you have a little practice. Finding the best keywords for your blog posts enables you to step into your readers’ shoes and figure out what they are searching for to find your school.
What are your favorite search tools for identifying top-ranking topics and keywords for your blog? Please share with the rest of the school marketing community by commenting below.