Ever wondered how on earth Google ranks sites in search results? Besides a bunch of complex factors and algorithms to determine the quality of a site, they also determine relevance – how useful will a post be to that users search? Every time we search for something we’re asking a question and Google’s aim is to provide the best answer. Knowing exactly what your audience is looking for means you can give them content they’re really after and turn casual readers into long-term advocates.
SEO can be broken down into an endless number of subtopics, schools of thought and tasks but it always cycles back to one thing – creating a great user experience. Whether that experience is directly on your site or through Google’s own search results, it’s important to always consider the end user – what are they really looking for, and how can you better meet their needs? Two questions with one simple answer: keywords.
What? .. and how!?
Keywords are the actual words and phrases users type into the Google search bar. While there are literally endless search possibilities, only a small portion is applicable to your blog. An even smaller portion is going to highly beneficial to your own needs, and the user’s search query.
When someone searches for a phrase, they’re looking for an answer. While there are many many ways to search in any niche, each user’s search is accompanied by a different intent. Understanding what your users really mean by their search habits will help refine your content, improve user experience, get you appearing in search when you want to, and bring more visitors to your blog.
While your audience uses keywords to find your content without realising it, you can utilise keywords on your blog to help Google understand what your content is really about, and what search terms it should appear for. It’s important to remember that Google is merely a robot, and is searching for clear indicators to understand your content.
Including keywords in your content is simple, and is not too hard to perfect – just remember one simple rule: write for the reader, not Google. While that may sound counterintuitive since Google is the one who shows your content to your audience, Google relies on MANY different signals to determine rankings, not just the words contained in your post. Their algorithm can, in fact, identify keyword stuffing, where words are unnecessarily repeated over and over in a post in an attempt to rank better for that keyword.
Keyword stuffing has a negative effect on your user and in turn your rankings. If you read the same word or phrase constantly in a post, chances are you’ll get a little bored and leave – increasing that page’s bounce rate (the percentage of times a user leaves your blog after only viewing a single page).
Understanding your readers
To get started with your own keyword research, you first need to consider what words or phrases are most important to you – are you a travel photographer, or the expert on Thermomix recipes? Consider if there is an overall phrase or collection of phrases that could be used to summarise your blog.
Then, break down your main theme into smaller branches – these may be sub-sections you have in your menu, that further refine down into individual blog topics. Our travel photographer may offer photography classes, photo prints for sale, and tips for beginners.
Use our worksheet at the bottom of this post to start brainstorming your topics before refining your keywords and measuring their performance. Consider how YOU would find your content – what would you search for? It’s also useful to ask family & friends for their input – you might be surprised at what they reveal.
Breaking your blog down from a broad topic into clear concepts, and then into refined phrases & posts will work for any niche or blog size – even if you cover multiple topics, or run a ‘general’ blog, like parenting advice that touches on many facets of life.
Free tools like Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Planner will help you understand how these keywords relate to your audience and their search habits, and which phrase or alternative will perform better.
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