57% of Fortune 500 companies have public blogs, and they continue to invest in their content marketing strategies.1
Companies who have blogs generate 67% more leads than companies that don’t.1
56% marketers who leverage blogging say it’s effective and 10% of them say it helps them generate the highest ROI.2
Numbers are great. They demonstrate the power of blogs to drive organic traffic, and to acquire new customers without hard selling or spending money on paid ads.
But as impressive as these numbers seem, attracting the right crowd through a blog isn’t as easy as it may appear. Approximately 4 million blogs are published every day across all platforms. Yes! There is too much content on the internet on almost every topic.
So how does your blog compete and take a place at the top of the table?
Enter….. ((drumroll, please))… S.E.O!!!
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO, as it is popularly known, is the process of helping your website rank higher on search engines, thus improving the traffic to your website.
SEO is your secret weapon to ensure a top position for your blog.
It allows your blog to rank high on search engines e.g. Google. It shines a spotlight on you, allowing you to become visible.
This blog is aimed at beginners. It will tell you everything you need to know about SEO blogging.
Specifically, it includes:
- A step by step process that you can use to begin SEO blogging immediately
- Core concepts of SEO — simplified to make learning easier
- Screenshots, demos and examples to make every step clearer
- Free resources including tools and valuable websites to collate hidden data
- Tried and tested techniques used by SEO experts.
Step 1: Find a list of topics
If you’ve decided to start a blog on your website, it’s time to find topics that your audience wants to read about. If you’re new to the industry, start by finding broad topics about your business or industry. Think of search terms your target audience would look for.
For instance, if you own a travel website e.g. one similar to MakeMyTrip, and you want to start blogging, here are two ways you can find content topics:
a) Explore Wikipedia:
www.wikipedia.com is a goldmine of keywords your target audience is searching for.
- Go to Wikipedia.
- Type ‘travel’ in the search bar and scroll down.
- You’ll get a list of interesting keywords related to the travel domain.
For reference, see the screenshot below:
Now pick the relevant keywords for your business and make a note of them. You can use these keywords as inspiration for blog topics.
You can even click on one of the keywords (in blue text, above) to discover more relevant keywords.
b) Use Google Keyword Planner (GKP):
If you’re interested in a data-driven approach to find keywords GKP is the best tool for you. It allows you to find keywords for FREE.
- Create an account on GKP.
- Sign in and click ‘Go to keyword planner’
- Then, click ‘discover new keywords.
- Enter the location of your target audience.
- Type in broad terms related to your products, services and overall business. You’ll get a list of keyword ideas.
This list includes the keywords that users are searching for. You could even use keywords from your Wikipedia research and analyse their metrics.
I will explain how you can analyse metrics and choose the right keywords later in this blog.
First, you need to understand types of keywords.
Step 2: Types of Keywords
Keywords are broadly divided into three types:
- Short tail keywords: Generic keywords which are usually one or two words, e.g., ‘shoes’. These are broad keywords where the user’s search intent is not clear. We don’t know what the person wants to know about shoes. Are they looking for specific types of shoes? Do they want to buy shoes? Do they need general information about shoes? Not clear!
- Mid tail keywords: Specific keywords; the query usually has 2+ words. E.g., ‘best running shoes’. Here, the search intent is slightly better defined but still not 100% clear.
- Long-tail keywords: More specific keywords; the query usually has 4+ words. E.g., ‘women running shoes for bad knees’. Now, the user intent is clear. Also, the user has moved into what is called the ‘marketing funnel’. This means there is a higher chance of converting this user into a buyer. Creating content for these keywords is profitable.
You’ve now learnt that long-tail keywords are the best to work with. They are specific and can strongly signify the users’ intent.
Let’s now move on to:
How to find long-tail keywords
There are many ways to find long-tail keywords. I’m going to tell you the few easiest ways to do this.
Use the Google search bar:
Head to www.google.com type a search query. E.g., ‘Women running shoes’ and check the auto-suggested results. The screenshot below illustrates some of the results that show up.
In this list are some, good long-tail keywords that you can use either as the main topic for a blog or as subtopics.
Type your main keyword, for example, ‘running shoes + forum’ in the Google search bar. Clicking on the first few forums will give you a list of topics that you can use as long-tail keywords for your blogs. See screenshot below, for examples.
This is a great way to access some genuine queries that even paid tools don’t help with. Make a note of these trending topics and discussions for use in your blogs, LinkedIn posts, Instagram reels and tweets.
Step 3: Pick the most Profitable Keywords
You may want to write on a topic that no one is actively searching for, or one that is too difficult to compete with. Yes, it’s great to write blogs on such topics! But when you’re launching a new website, it’s smarter to pick and start with evergreen topics.
These topics don’t have an expiry date. They continue to drive traffic to your site long after it’s published.
E.g., Let’s say you own a café that serves speciality, gourmet coffee.
Yes, you can write great articles about the coffee you serve, the different variants, the customisations you offer etc. But you have to consider whether people are searching for information like this…
In contrast, let’s ask Google about what some evergreen keywords related to coffee would be. The screenshot below gives you some idea of these.
Topics such as:
- types of coffee
- coffee benefits
- coffee powder
- side effects of coffee
- benefits of coffee etc.
will never go out of date. You may need to update the information from time to time, but once ranked, this post will continue to send organic traffic to your site. Traffic that you can convert into leads.
Although you can benefit a great deal from using evergreen keywords, there is still competition!
Here are 3 important factors to consider while choosing the right keywords for your business. These show up in the table when you’re using Google Keyword Planner.
Search volume (average monthly searches)
This metric shows the number of users searching for a particular query. A higher search volume indicates a good search term. But a higher search volume also indicates more competition.
If you’re looking for keywords for a new website, you would benefit more by using keywords with a moderate search volume. It would be easier to rank higher for these keywords.
Let’s continue with the café and coffee example and analyse some related keywords. The screenshot below shows you various coffee-related keywords and the associated average monthly searches.
Keyword Difficulty or Competition
This metric reveals how easy or hard it is to rank for a particular keyword.
The lower this number is, the easier it is to rank. Unfortunately, there’s no standard ‘good keyword difficulty’ to guide you in every situation. Keyword difficulty varies from industry to industry. But a good rule-of-thumb is to choose a keyword that has a lower keyword difficulty.
Imagine ranking on the first page of Google for a particular keyword and discovering that very few people actually click the link to your site. Doesn’t that sound terrible?
That’s why it’s important to check the Cost per Click (CPC). This metric indicates how many people click for a query. The higher the CPC score, the better the keyword is. If you’re using Google Keywords Planner, ‘top of page bid’ is CPC by another name.
Now that you’ve understood what these terms mean, look for keywords with a moderate search volume, high CPC and low competition!
Note these keywords, separate from the first list you made and head on to the last step.
Step 4: Competitor Analysis
Like it or not, you’re always going to have competitors. In fact, the more successful you are, the more competitors you’re likely to have.
So before you start writing, know your competition. If you ignore this step, you won’t be able to rate your content against your competitors.
Who are your competitors? How do you find them?
Here’s a simple way.
Type in the keyword you want to rank for in the Google search bar. The top 10 results on the first page of the search engine are your competitors.
Your content will need to compete against these pages. The weakest among them has the highest chance of getting replaced. So at this step, identify the weaker pages.
Here’s how you can do it:
Install Ubersuggest chrome extensions.
- Give permission and install the extension
This extension gives you two important metrics to analyse your competitors:
– Domain Authority (DA)
These are the first two parameters to check when you begin with competitor analysis.
Continue reading to understand what these terms mean and how they can help you.
Domain Authority (DA)
It’s a website score given by the search engine. There are various factors that go into calculating the DA of a site. For example, website age, credibility, relevance, trust, user experience and others.
The search engine assigns a DA score from 0 to 100.
Once you’ve installed Ubersuggest you can see DA, social shares and backlinks of a page.
See screenshots below, for details (underlined in red, for your easy reference).
The higher the DA, the tougher it is to replace the site. So check the list for websites with a lower DA.
They are another crucial factor search engines consider while ranking websites. In the screenshot below, the backlinks for each of the websites in the list have been underlined in red.
The higher the number of high quality backlinks, the more trustworthy a site is. Hence these websites are the most difficult to displace. Your immediate competition thus becomes sites with lower DAs and backlinks. Look for these!
At this stage, many keywords that you thought of as opportunity keywords will probably be deleted from your list because of the high number of backlinks.
You’ll finally be left with a list of keywords with a decent number of searches and a higher chance of ranking.
Use these keywords to answer your users’ queries with high-quality content.
Search Intent of the Keyword:
User intent is an extremely crucial step. You need to understand it before you start writing on any topic. Google places a great deal of emphasis on search intent, and so should you.
What is Search Intent?
Search Intent uncovers the reason why the user is searching for a particular query. The best way to find search intent behind keywords is by analysing the top 10 results on the first page of a search engine. The top 10 sites ranking on the first page have passed the search intent test. Else, they would be buried in the later pages.
Consider 4 things while analysing search intent:
Type of search intent: Search intent is usually divided into 4 categories:
- Informational: Usually question-based and includes what, when, how, why etc. E.g., ‘How to prepare for the UPSC exam’
- Navigational: Keywords that are centred around a specific brand or page. E.g., ‘Free unacademy courses’
- Commercial: Includes words like ‘best’, ‘reviews’, ‘compare’ etc. E.g., ‘Unacademy subscription reviews’ or ‘Is unacademy good for UPSC exam preparation’
- Transactional: Keywords that have buying intent. E.g., ‘Buy unacademy subscription’
Determine the search intent:
Imagine users searching for ‘best coffee machine’, and you’re a café owner that sells awesome coffee. You know which machines can make the perfect cup of coffee. But the keyword is not a right fit for your business. Users searching that keyword are not interested in ordering the best coffee from a café. They’re looking to replicate the café experience at home. They are not the right fit for your business.
This step takes a bit of time and effort. But determining the search intent behind keywords appropriate for you / your business will ensure that you always attract the right audience.
Check the content format:
Another important step in competitor analysis is the content format.
What kinds of pages rank on the first page of a search engine for a particular query? Is it blogs, landing pages, resources, FAQs? If, for example, Google ranks landing pages on the first page, it’s not worth your time to create a blog post on the keyword.
What kind of content format ranks on the first page for a particular keyword? Is it a listicle, guide, table, or a ‘how to’ article? This will help you finalise the appropriate format for your blog post. If most results are guides, it means Google ranks guides for this keyword query.
Look for loopholes:
Doing this step successfully will give you a competitive edge. Analyse existing blog posts on the first page of the search engine and identify gaps or weak points.
- Can you write a better post on the same topic? If yes, how?
- Do the existing posts lack data, images, demos? Use these in your blog post.
- Create a post that addresses all the shortcomings of the previous posts already listed.
Through this blog you should’ve learnt most of what you need to get started with SEO ready blogs on your website.
You should know how to look for relevant keywords, which of those keywords will work best for you, how to do a thorough competitor analysis and tips to beat the competition.
You should now be able to put together a list of keywords that can drive organic traffic and leads to your website. Good luck with writing your compelling blog for the selected keywords!
The next step will be to optimise your blog post.
I’ve got your back on this one too! Blog post optimisation is Part 2 of this series.
In the meantime, reach out if you have any questions about SEO. Leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you!