Step 1: Identify main keyword based on intent
Google’s Suggest Tool is the best place to start with your research. Go to Google.com and you’ll see Google Suggest at work. As soon as you begin to type, Google will suggest relevant search queries that match your topic.
Those suggestions are based on how often past users have searched for a term (their popularity). Try searching for something like "what is instagram" and you’ll see what I mean.
What you’re looking for is:
- A term that solves a problem a potential reader/customer actually has
- Uses a term or phrase that they’d actually use
Let’s say you’re writing an article about planning Instagram content. Think about what our audience would actually type in search.
- “How to plan content for my Instagram posts”
- “How do I create content for Instagram?”
- “How do I schedule content for Instagram?”
- “Instagram plan”
Type these in and begin to write down the relevant terms Google serves up. I’d start with a list of 10-20. This will vary depending on the scope and specificity of your topic. (how narrow)
- Instagram content ideas
- Instagram content calendar
- schedule Instagram posts business
- Instagram content strategy
- Instagram post strategy
- content ideas for Instagram
Now take those ideas and head over to Quora, Buzzsumo, Reddit, and Ubersuggest to generate even more keyword ideas. UberSuggest is especially awesome in suggesting phrases you might not have thought of otherwise.
Finally, add all of your keyword ideas into SEMrush to determine whether or not they’re worth going after.
Step 2: Identify volume, keyword difficulty, and opportunity
Here we’re going to use SEMrush and a couple other tools to see whether or not these keywords are worth exploring. We’ll look at what the volume, difficulty in ranking, and the opportunity is for a particular keyword.
What we don’t want to do is write one more piece of content in an already saturated niche that we have zero potential to rank for. Especially if the keyword difficulty is high. (more on that below)
First, use Google search operator, “intitle,” to get a sense of what has already been written about, who has written about it, and how many results are showing up. In this case, there are 207 articles with that exact keyword included.
Who’s ranking, what’s the value of the content, and why is it ranking in your opinion? You’re looking for authority sites (Later, Hubspot, Buffer) as opposed to obscure sites that are unknown within the space. This can be a telling sign that the keyword isn’t one you want to go after.
Now go to SEMrush and type in the keywords from the list that you brainstormed above. This is your starting point and a way to see volume, difficulty, and potential. This will more than likely be broad when first starting. (e.g. instagram hashtags) as opposed to instagram hashtag limit. (specific intent)
Write down how many people are searching for that phrase (this is your volume). For example, Instagram hashtags volume is 18,100 while instagram hashtags is 880. This is a starting point, but not always the best indicator as high volume doesn’t always equal high clicks.
Optimally, you’re going to balance search volume with search intent as discussed above. You’re tying what they want to achieve (know, do, go) with what they want to accomplish (know the instagram hashtag limit).
You’re also looking at keyword difficulty. SEMrush automatically generates a rank based on a combination of authority of the domains showing up and how hard it would be to outrank.
- Above 80%: High Difficulty
- From 60%-80%: Medium Difficulty
- Below 40%: Low Difficulty
Keywords below 40% are the easiest to rank for but the hardest to find. Keywords with difficulty below 40% that have a steady search volume can also represent our best opportunities.
You can also use SEMrush to see what specific articles from our competitors are ranking. More ideas! Go to SEMrush—SEO Toolkit and add competitor domain. I used Later as an example. You’ll begin with a high level overview of all keywords.
I suggest you drill down into that through filters. Under “Organic Keywords,” click on view all. Now you’re going to use advanced filters to uncover those low(er) volume, 40% or below difficulty level keywords. Include - Keyword - Word matching = your main keyword.
Look at the average monthly searches (volume) and the keyword difficulty.
- Search volume = demand
- Relevance of keyword topic/phrase
- True intent of our audience
*IMPORTANT* As a part of this step, keep what we discussed above in mind.
- Do we currently rank on Page 1? If so, it might be wise to attack another keyword. One we don’t currently rank for.
Your last step is researching the titles and topics that are already ranking. What words do they use that inspire that traffic or those clicks? How can we answer the intent in the most interesting, innovative or provocative way?
The goal is to write a piece that positions us as the expert while solving one of our audiences (and potential members) biggest problems. What good is content if no one is going to read it?
Before you hit publish on your next blog post, make sure you’ve implemented these SEO techniques to optimize your post and make it visible to search engines, and thus, your readers!
- Use relevant, top-performing keywords that people search for in your blog posts
- Include these keywords in the title of your blog and in the headings
- Use a keyword within the first 100 words of your blog
- Use synonyms and similar keywords that relate to your main keywords within your post
- 93% of people start their web experience using a search engine
- Cross linking to relevant internal pages spreads authority across your site
- Don’t stuff anchor text with too many keywords
- Do link to relevant external web pages
- As you add new blog posts, add links from your old posts to your new posts
- Keep your content unique – don’t copy and paste content from other sites
- Focus on quality – make sure you are writing for humans and not search engines
- Don’t skimp on the length! Posts should be at least 500 words long
- Keep your URLs short
- Use relevant keywords in your URLs, but don’t over-saturate with keywords either
- Use relevant keywords in your image file names
- Add an “alt” tag description for each image
- Keep the file size of your images as small as possible
About Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.