Although many content marketers and SEO experts advise you not to obsess about keywords when writing content, keywords matter. Ignore your keywords for a few weeks, publish content, and just see the results.
Why is keyword research important for SEO content writing?
I have written a complete blog post on the importance of keyword research before writing content.
It’s important to prepare a list of keywords because then you know what language to use when writing content for your website. The list of keywords also helps you stay focused and stick to the topic.
Take for example the current topic of this blog post. It is not about the importance of keywords, but how to do keyword research.
So, although, I have slightly touched upon the point of how important it is to research your keywords for SEO content writing, I know that my main topic is about “how to do keyword research before writing content”. This helps me decide where to focus more and where to focus less. If nothing else, this should be one of the most important reasons for you to prepare a list of keywords before beginning to write content.
Knowing the keywords also helps you use the right language – the language used by your prospective customers and clients. If you don’t speak their language, they don’t understand you, and frankly, neither do you understand them. Knowing the keywords will enable you to know how they talk about your product or service and what they are actually looking for.
How to do keyword research for effective SEO content writing
It’s been more than a decade since SEO became mainstream and people began to recognize the connection between content writing and SEO but still, when it comes to researching keywords, they go on gut feeling and what they think the keywords should be.
Although you know the main keywords, unless you use proper tools, it is very difficult to know exactly what keywords and search terms your target customers and clients are using.
The Google search engine is the most convenient and easiest keyword research tool. There are two ways you can find out what people are looking for pertaining to a subject.
Suppose you want to write something on improving life. You go to google.com and type “improving life” and don’t press enter. I get the following search hints from Google:
improving life through knowledge of science
improving life quality
improving life quotes
improving life expectancy
Then you press enter and you come across lots of links talking about improving life. At the bottom of the search results, Google also shows you searches related to “improving life”
how to improve your life quality
how to improve your lifestyle
how to improve your life in 7 days
100 ways to improve your life
how to improve yourself everyday
daily habits to improve life
… and so on.
If you want to delve further, try “improving lifestyle” and go through the same cycle of suggestions given by Google.
These suggestions are not just random suggestions. These are the search terms being used by people who are looking for information related to “improving life”.
Similarly, you can choose one of your major keywords and start typing in Google and observe what suggestions the search engine comes up with.
Remember that it is very difficult to improve your search engine rankings for single-word keywords or highly competitive keywords. But, it is easier to improve your rankings for longer keywords, less competitive keywords.
Talking about longtail keywords, you may like to read How to incorporate longtail keywords into content writing.
Google Keyword Planner
By now many people are aware of this free tool. It is basically an AdWords ad-on and personally I feel it acts more to encourage you to include maximum number of keywords while creating your AdWords campaign than to give you the most objective picture of the keywords you must be targeting. Use your own discretion. You don’t have to blindly follow all the suggestions made by the Google keyword planner.
To generate keyword suggestions, you can either supply the keyword planner with a list of initial keywords or you can simply type in your website URL and the keyword tool will tell you which keywords you should use to optimize your content.
In the above screenshot image, in the Google Keyword planner, I have used the keyword “content writing services” and the keyword planner has given me some suggestions.
I have omitted the monetary value (how much people are bidding for these keywords) of individual keywords because it doesn’t concern here, what you need to focus on is the keyword and the “competition” it has. If possible, focus on the “Low” and “Medium” competition keywords.
Again, you can also use a combination of the Google keyword planner and the simple Google search engine technique that I have mentioned above.
Although Google analytics doesn’t tell you the keywords you should target before starting to write your content, it can give you a glimpse of the keywords that bring traffic to your website. This means, if you are getting traffic for all the wrong reasons, you may like to change your content orientation to target the right keywords.
Niche websites and blogs
Does your profession have niche websites and blogs publishing plenty of content on subjects related to your profession?
Prepare a list of niche websites and blogs that publish lots of content around your profession and observe what topics they are covering. Even a list of 20-30 topics will give you a fair idea of the keywords they are covering. You don’t need to cover exactly those keywords, but you can create various combinations before you start writing your own content.
Suppose you want to write workout related content and you choose the website health.com.
In your browser, in the URL bar, type “site:health.com workout” (you don’t need to use inverted commas and make sure there is no space between site: and the name of the website), and press enter.
This will give you all the search results pertaining to “workout” on the website health.com. You can get scores of keyword ideas from the content they have published.
Premium keyword analysis tools
Frankly, for doing keyword research before writing content, my all-time favourite tool remains google.com. It is no-nonsense. It doesn’t push keywords in front of you. It exactly tells you what search terms people are using to find similar content or related content. Whatever is your choice, little bit of keyword research before starting to write your content will give you a solid direction and keep you focused. It will also help you publish content your target audience really needs.