In the last article, we talked about why you absolutely need to care about keyword research like an SEO specialist would. Not only do keywords help search engines find our content, but also a strong keyword research strategy helps drive traffic even when social media and Pinterest algorithms change. Free organic traffic? Yes, please. Not freaking out about Pinterest and Facebook changes? Sounds great. Now that you understand why you should care, let’s talk about how to do affordable SEO keyword research for a blog.
SEO Keyword Research The Wrong Way
If the article you’re reading right now were to have another name, I’d call it “What the Heck to Put In the Yoast Box.”
Most bloggers are familiar with the Yoast plugin to some degree, and we’ll talk more about it in due time. Those using Yoast know that the plugin asks you to put a “focus keyword” in a box as shown in the image below:
(And, by the by, if all of this is Yoast stuff is mumbo-jumbo, don’t worry. We’ll talk about Yoast a whole lot in a bit.)
For a long time, I didn’t know what to put in this box. I’d put in any word that came to mind related to the topic of my post or article. The word that I chose tended to be descriptive, like “couch.” Or, “couch-2” if I’d already used “couch.”
(Hint: if you learn anything from this article, please remember to never, ever use “couch-2” as a keyword. UGH.)
The Basics of Behind How to Do Affordable SEO Keyword Research
So why is “couch” a bad keyword for me to use? Even though there are over 360,000 searches per month for the word “couch,” any articles I write using the keyword “couch” won’t be successful in a Google search.
Why? Turns out that there’s a whole lotta content about couches on the internet. Like, a whole lot. Not only that but the folks writing about couches have a lot of authority in their industry. Let’s take a peek:
If you search for “couch,” do you know who pops up on the first page of Google? Ashley Furniture, Overstock.com, Target, Ikea, Wayfair, Amazon… you know, the big guys. And as amazing as my content may be, it’s gonna be awfully hard to grab a spot from Amazon or Target so that my lil’ old content sits on the first page of the search results.
And you want to be on the first page of the search results.
That, right there, is the BIG GOAL.
Why? When people do internet searches, they very very rarely click to the second page. In fact, 90% of all search traffic comes from people clicking on a link they found on the first page. So our job as bloggers is to get to the first page of Google (or Yahoo or Bing. But honestly, most people just use Google.)
But if someone like me needs to compete against the Targets and Amazons of the world, how would I ever rank on the first page?
The Goldilocks Rule of Keyword Research
In order for my site to compete, I need to take a Goldilocks approach to keyword research. Remember her? The queen of breaking and entering, she waltzed right into the bears’ home and judged pretty much everything they owned.
That bed? Too hard. That one? Too soft? But the one in the middle? Juuuuuust right. Same with their porridge. Not too hot, not too cold, but the one in the middle was juuuuuust right.
Pretty much, I’m telling you to be like Goldilocks, except for the breaking and entering part.
Why? Because “juuuuust right” is the approach we’ll use for keywords. We’re looking for popular keywords, but not too popular. We need to find keywords lots of people are searching on Google, but not keywords everyone’s searching on Google.
Sure, you may never rank for a super popular keyword like “couch.” But let’s say you find 20 Goldilocks keywords similar to couch and rank for those. Odds are, you’ll end up getting lots and lots of traffic coming your way.
[bctt tweet=”The Goldilocks Rule of Keyword Research: “Juuuuust Right” Keywords = High Search Volume * Low Competition” username=”homebeautifully”]
How to Find the Right Keywords with KWFinder
To identify keywords that are “juuuuuuust right,” we’re going to use KWFinder. Just to be totally transparent, yes, it’s a paid platform. (And yes, I am using affiliate links because I truly love and recommend it. Lemme tell you why.)
There’s a free version I want you to check out, even if you don’t use the paid version. KWFinder allows you do to five free keyword searches per day, and I used that free service extensively (read: every. single. day) til I upgraded.
“But wait, Google Keyword planner is free. Spend money on keyword research?! This Cynthia girl is full of it.” Sure you might be thinking that. (Hopefully not!) In the next article, we’re going to talk about why I ditched Google keyword planner and why I think you should too. Yes, Google keyword planner is free, but no, it won’t help you very much. I’ll explain why soon.
A Keyword Research Example for You Visual Learners
So let’s work through an example, in case your like me and learn best from exemplars and visuals. Head to KWFinder and put your search term in the box.
Let’s continue to use “couch” as an example so that I can explain why it was a bad choice for my blog. When I search for couch in the search box, I find these results:
You’re gonna get a lot of information on the screen. On the upper left by the search box, you can filter the information further to show data for your specific geographic location and language. Underneath, you’ll see the data KWFinder’s providing so you can make decisions about which keyword to use.
There are four columns in this table that are important: suggestions, trend, search, and DIFF. Let’s quickly define each of them.
Using Keyword Research Data like an SEO Pro
Instead of just scrolling up and down the page, use the information provided to your best advantage. How?
Step 1: In the upper left-hand corner, put a blue check in the grey checkbox to select all suggested key terms.
Step 2: On the blue export button, click the down arrow, then click “export with metrics.csv”
The .csv means “comma separated values.” You can open this file in Excel or Google Spreadsheets. Youll then want to sort and filter this data to identify how to pick the right keywords. If you need a step-by-step guide, check out Simplified Keyword Research for Bloggers, which walks through lots and lots of examples!
How to Use Your Keyword Research Data from KWFinder
Let’s go back to our Goldilocks Rule for keywords. Keywords that are “juuuuuuust right” have low SEO Difficulty scores and high search volume data. Here’s a little reminder:
That’s why we sorted and filtered our data. We removed keywords that weren’t going to be helpful for us. By doing this, we’re not even considering keywords that are going to be difficult for us to rank in Google. Nor are we even going to consider keywords that aren’t searched at least 1000 times per month.
By cleaning up our data, we’re left with 229 keywords! That’s A LOT!
So here’s the thing: even though “couch” was a terrible keyword for me to use (albeit much better than “couch-2”), there are 229 similar keywords that I could use instead.
How do you use this table of 229 Goldilocks keywords?
You want to scan your table for keywords that have LOW SEO scores (in column E), but HIGH search volume (in column B). The lower the SEO scores and higher the search volume, the better. Let’s take a look at some good ones:
These are all AWESOME keywords. Not only are their SEO scores low, low, low, but look at how many searches these words get EACH MONTH? The keyword “chaise sofa” gets over 18,000 searches each month! That could be 18,000 more unique visitors to my site every single month.
So, remember how I wanted to write a post about couches? How about these posts instead:
- 5 Secrets to Picking Out the Best Farmhouse Style Chaise Sofa
- How to Clean Your Microfiber Chaise Sofa … Easily!
- 6 Stores for Purchasing an Affordable (and Beautiful!) Chaise Sofa
- 57 Mind-Blowing Ways Having a Chaise Sofa Made Me A Happier Person
(Man, that last article sounds like a winner. But you get my point.)
[bctt tweet=”Bottom line: There are lots (and lots and lots!) of great keywords to drive massive traffic to your site. You just have to find them.” username=”homebeautifully”]
Picking Juuuuuust Right Keywords Based on SEO Difficulty Scores
Before you dive headfirst into using every single one of those 229 keywords, I want to give you a word of caution. Although we included keywords up to an SEO difficulty of 45, I wouldn’t encourage you to use keywords with difficulty scores between 40 and 45. Remember how KWFinder colors their keywords in red, green, and yellow? In order to be green (green is good!), a keyword needs to have a score of 39 or less.
But why, oh why, then would I want you to keep keywords with scores of 40 to 45?
A few reasons.
First, there are some niches and topics where it’s SO SO difficult to find a green Goldilocks word. Finding great keywords for these SEO posts, for example? REALLY HARD. (Unsurprisingly, really, since the people who write SEO posts would know to use good keywords and make it tough to find easy ones.)
But other niches are tough, too. Anything general DIY is tough. “Easy DIY Projects” and similar ideas? Ugh. Almost no Goldilocks keywords.
So sometimes I let myself use keywords with SEO Difficulty scores up to 45 just to have a relatively okay keyword in my post.
Second, I find it helpful to have a sense of the field of keywords. It’s helpful for me to know which keywords are more competitive and which are less. So I keep more competitive keywords on hand to educate myself about hot topics in the niche, even if I don’t end up using those words.
Technically I suppose, I could keep all the keywords, including those with SEO Difficulty scores of up to 100 (and you could too!). But, for me, I work best with a narrower scope and a smaller table of data.
In an upcoming article, we’ll talk about exactly how you use your Goldilocks keywords in your content. But first, in case you’re wondering why you can’t just use a free keyword planning tool, like Google Keyword Planner, I want to chat about that and clear up any open questions. See you in the next article!