Welcome to this series on keyword research! We’re starting our keyword research series with this post, beginning right at the beginning. Why does keyword research even matter? Well, here’s the thing: if you don’t buy into this post, you’re not gonna buy into this series. So before we jump into all tips for the things you should and maybe shouldn’t implement on your blog, let’s first talk about why we’re even talking about this. Bottom line: yes, you need to care about keyword research for search engines. And, yes, you need to employ actionable strategies on your blog, like an SEO specialist would. Why? Keep on reading to learn more!
Why Bother with Search Engine Optimization? Why Be Your Blog’s SEO Specialist?
Before we jump into keywords, let’s talk about SEO more generally. Why do you need to optimize your site for search engines? To be honest, you don’t. You could blog and blog and blog and never give a thought to search engines.
In fact, I’ve done this. Lemme tell you what happens when you ignore keyword research:
Nothing. Nothing happens.
Why? Because your content — your wonderful, inspired, and beautiful content — can’t be found.
Think of how often you visit Google each week or, if you’re like me, each day. Probably a lot! Optimizing your site through SEO and keyword research allows search engines not only to find you but also to show your content on relevant searches. And when people find you in search results and visit your site? That organic traffic costs you nothing other than the time it takes to structure your content well.
Free traffic? Heck yes.
Sure, social media and Pinterest can drive traffic to your website. (And we’ll talk about that soon.). But if you’re not thinking like an SEO specialist, you’re missing out on all the traffic that Google (and Yahoo and Bing) might drive to your site.
And just so we’re totally clear, we’re NOT talking about optimizing your content for Pinterest here. (That’s something different, y’all. We can talk about why it’s different at some point soon!) We’re talking about Google and Yahoo and Bing (but mostly just Google, since that’s where most people start their searches.)
Keywords Define Our Content
I’m gonna be straight up honest with you. I didn’t get the whole keyword thang for a long, long time. Sure, I heard others talk about it. But I didn’t get it, and I certainly wasn’t thinking like an SEO specialist.
Whenever I wrote a post, I just, well, wrote it. If the post was about buying a couch, I used the word “couch” a lot. I wasn’t even really thinking about the word “couch” as a keyword. In fact, in the past, if I wrote a second post about couches, sometimes the URL would look something like this:
(If you learn only one thing from this article, learn this: never ever use “couch-2” as a keyword. Ever.)
I just assumed that because I was writing about what people wanted to read (namely, buying a couch), readers would find it.
It turns out it doesn’t quite work that way.
What I’ve come to understand is this: as bloggers, we often forget that between our readers and us is a whole lotta technology. And for my information to get to my reader, it must first pass through those computers via the internet and search engines.
I’ve spent some time in other countries where I didn’t know the language. As much as I wanted to express myself, because I didn’t have the right words or enough words, the other person didn’t get my message. Without a big enough vocabulary, the meaning gets lost, and the message can’t be found.
Keywords are like that. Keywords the vocabulary we use to tell the search engines what our stuff’s all about. And when we feed the search engines the right keywords, badda-bing, the reader can find our content.
[bctt tweet=”Keywords the vocabulary we use to tell the search engines what our stuff’s all about. Learn more http://bit.ly/2DOYZaT at ” username=”homebeautifully”]
Keywords Specify Our Content
We’ll talk more about how to choose “the right” keyword in an upcoming article. But for now, it’s important to know that not only do keywords define our content, they also specify it.
Remember earlier when I mentioned I wrote a few posts about buying a couch? Well sure, the keyword “couch” defined my content, but it didn’t do it with any specifics.
Even though there are over 360,000 people searching the word “couch” every month, those searchers will probably never find my content with the keyword “couch.” Why? Because that keyword doesn’t specify why my post is the right post for search engines to show. And it turns out, there’s a whole lot of content on the internet about couches. Using a poor keyword (or no keyword at all) doesn’t encourage the search engines to pick YOUR CONTENT from the sea of voices online.
Now, if I were to write a post about “L shaped couches,” I’d have a fighting chance. The search engines might show my content because I’ve used a more specific keyword that fewer people used. Another great keyword? “Convertible sofa.”
And the thing is, I care about L-shaped couches and convertible sofas. I could help people make purchasing decisions about them. By understanding how to be more specific with the right keywords, search engines are more likely to show my content. (And yours, too!)
Keywords Nourish the Dry Times
If you’re a blogger (and you probably are if you’ve read this far down the post!), chances are you spend a good deal of time marketing your content. (If you’ve been on my blog for a hot minute, you know I’m crazy passionate about Pinterest, for example. It’s the number one source of traffic for this site.)
It’s true, social media and Pinterest are the lifeblood for many bloggers. From Facebook to Instagram, Twitter to Pinterest, marketing on these platforms helps drive traffic back to our sites. And, I’ll be honest, some bloggers have grown their readership incredibly large through savvy social media and Pinterest marketing.
Here’s the problem: those bloggers don’t control Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. And now and then, there’s a massive uproar in the blogging community when algorithms change and traffic dwindles. Just this year, in fact, in early 2018, Facebook changed how they show business pages in readers’ feeds. For business highly reliant on Facebook for traffic? Ugh. Not good.
[bctt tweet=”Optimizing your site for search engines helps ride the tides of social media and Pinterest changes. Learn more at http://bit.ly/2DOYZaT” username=”homebeautifully”]
Similarly, the Pinterest algorithm has changed significantly in the past few years. With the advent of Pinterest’s “smart feed,” many bloggers who leveraged Pinterest’s group boards found themselves with a smaller reach across the platform. As a result? The traffic from Pinterest to their blogs dropped drastically.
And bloggers who relied on Pinterest traffic for ad revenue? Not only did they see a drop in traffic, they also saw a drop in income. I don’t know about you, but if something’s impacting my bottom line, I take action.
Optimizing your site for search engines through smart keyword research helps ride the tides of social media and Pinterest changes. Sure, search engines go through their updates. But those updates don’t tend to penalize bloggers doing good work, writing good content. (They tend to penalize internet marketers with shady tactics. And no one reading this is shady, I’m sure.)
Learning keyword research and search engine skills will always benefit your site and those benefits will carry far into the future.
What You’ll Learn so You Can Use Keywords Like an SEO Specialist Would
Hopefully, you buy into keyword research a little bit more. And I promise: the sooner you jump on the train, the less running behind it to catch up you’ll have to do down the road. It’ll be so so much easier for you to start optimizing content with the right keywords now than it will be a year from now when you have dozens if not hundreds of poorly worded articles to sludge through.
[bctt tweet=”You need to become your blog’s SEO specialist, particularly when it comes to keywords! Learn more at http://bit.ly/2DOYZaT” via=”no”]
And sure, you don’t need any special degrees or certifications. But you do need to become your blog’s SEO specialist, particularly when it comes to keywords. Sound good?
So up next, we’re going to keep moving forward. In the next few articles, we’ll cover:
– How to conduct keyword research for your blog
– Where to look for keywords and (where not to look for keywords)
– How to optimize your posts and HTML for keywords
Let’s do this!