Get People to Read Your Blog with Keyword Research
Making content relevant to your audience’s always-changing needs is a necessity in the digital space. Grasping and maintaining your reader’s attention span on the web is a tough gamble. It’s not always clear which content will stick and which content will get tossed aside. The only sure bet in the world of content marketing is to provide value to a reader and make them feel that the time they spent on your blog was beneficial.
There are several ways to drive traffic to your blog such as email marketing, social media, or paid advertising. But the strongest and cheapest long term solution is organic marketing. Follow along to understand how keyword research is the answer to getting more people to read your blog.
What Drives Traffic to a Blog
There are four types of search intent when someone opens up Google and begins to type: informational, navigational, commercial investigation, and transactional. Regardless of which type of intent the user is looking to fulfill, the user ultimately is looking for value out of whatever site they choose to click on.
If their value needs aren’t met in the first ranked listing on Google, there’s no hesitation for them to leave and click on the very next website. If your content addresses the need of your reader early on, is optimized for the right keywords, and provides an answer to your searcher’s intent, you’re more likely to keep a reader on your blog for longer.
Why You Need Organic Traffic
Email marketing, social media, and paid advertising are excellent resources at your disposal. In the short term, you will see a spike in readers visiting your blog if you employ these tools; however, organic optimization is the cheapest and easiest solution that can offer a long term readership base and a steady increase in growth.
What is organic traffic and what does it mean to grow organically? Organic traffic is when a reader naturally finds your blog post through a search engine like Google or Bing. Google has nuanced and complex algorithms in place that work behind the scenes to pull up results whenever you search for something. If you’ve done your SEO work, Google will reward you by pulling up your page before others. You get a reader to click on your link, and they spend more time on your site. You’ve just won a new organic reader.
How should you do your SEO homework? Your first and most profitable step in optimizing your blog posts for Google’s algorithms is keyword research.
How Keywords Will Change Your Blog Strategy
Keywords or key phrases are what people are searching for in search engines. It can be as simple as a word like “cow” or a string of words like “how does blockchain work.” For bloggers, these keywords are essential because you will want your blog post to come up in search engines when someone searches a keyword or phrase relevant to what you’ve written about.
By optimizing your blog posts with proper keyword research, you can help increase its organic ranking on Google. Once your blog posts rank, readers are organically driven to it.
How to Create Content that Will Get People to Read your Blog
We’ve already established how essential it is to drive traffic through organic means and how keyword research is an essential ingredient to get you that success. Keyword research is a straightforward process that can also help spark creativity when you’re looking for ideas for fresh content. You’ll want to place your keyword in your blog’s title, in a few headers, and throughout your post if it naturally fits.
Here’s a breakdown of the necessary steps.
1. Identify Content Themes and Topic Buckets
Before you begin the content creation process, you need to identify the themes you’d like your content to explore. This is true regardless of whether you’re making content for your own website or for the website of a higher education client.
Themes can include anything from faculty personas and the career outcomes of certain educational programs to current news and events. You could look at themes that are a fusion of two categories, for example technology and nursing.
2. Use Keyword Research Tools to Build a Keyword List
Once you’ve identified a handful of topic themes you’d like to explore with your content, your next step is to identify a list of keywords that fit within your themes. There are several free and paid keyword research tools that you can use such as Ahrefs, Soovle, and SemRush.
Start by looking up topics and ideas that fit your theme. For example, if you’re planning to write an article about nursing careers, think of a few popular nursing careers you could write about like pediatric nurses or gerontology nurses.
Not all of the keywords you find will be gold. In fact, many will be unusable or too difficult to rank for. This is why building a list with a variety of choices is important. Create an Excel or Google Spreadsheet to help you organize your list, and include helpful columns for metrics such as keyword difficulty and search volume. This will be useful later when you want to filter and narrow down your top 2-3 keywords.
3. Pick a Keyword that You Can Optimize Your Content For
Your goal should be to choose keywords that are high volume but low difficulty. This means that there is a high volume of folk searching that word, but it’s not too difficult to get your page to rank for it. Variations on those keywords can also go a long way towards helping you craft a list of keywords to target with your content.
Start with one target keyword and 1-2 secondary keywords. Make sure your keyword is something frequently searched, related to the scope of your blog, and relevant to a searcher’s query.
For example, there are thousands of blog posts on generic topics like “how to start a business.” Find topics that are nestled within niches and that can answer a specific question like “how to open up a coffee shop.” With the world and technology constantly changing, there are always new topics that you can write about. It’s just about finding good keywords and being creative.
4. Identify Content Themes and Topic Buckets
Now that you’ve got your keyword, find a creative way to use it in your title. It’s generally best practice to include your keyword near the front of your title, but also consider making the title fun and engaging for your reader. The title is often the first thing a searcher looks at, so it’s important for you to make it something they would want to click on.
The Steps in Practice
If you’ve tried the steps above for your own space and are still having trouble, don’t worry. Here are two examples to demonstrate how coming up with content topics from a keyword list looks in practice.
For our HEMJ blog, we focus on a wide variety of topics related to marketing and digital marketing. As a result, we wanted to do a piece centered on digital marketing predictions or upcoming trends in digital marketing. That topic functions as our content theme.
After doing keyword research and coming up with a list of words related to that them, we were able to determine which ones had good search volume and an attainable keyword difficulty. One example was “future of digital marketing”, which had a search volume of 200 and a keyword difficulty of 18.
Next came the final step in coming up with and implementing our creative content idea. We crafted a title based on that keyword and added our engaging content elements – Future of Digital Marketing: 8 Experts Share Their Predictions.
We then fleshed out the piece by including expert commentary on digital marketing trends. This commentary functions as the creative element to the piece.
It’s now been a year since this post was created, and it’s still ranking number one for the following keywords:
- Future of digital marketing
- The future of digital marketing
- Digital marketing future
As we mentioned earlier, this process can also be used for your clients, not just your own website. To demonstrate that, let’s look at how it worked for one of our academic partner’s.
For the first step, we came up with topic ideas relevant to the program. One of these involved the unique career paths available to graduates of the engineering program.
From there, our keyword research showed there was decent search volume surrounding “theme park engineering” and a ranking difficulty of 1. This led us to craft an infographic titled Amusement Park and Roller Coaster Engineering. This piece is both useful and creative. It addresses a pain point readers may have questions about – career paths available to graduates with a MEM – and presents the information in a unique way.
This was essentially the jackpot. So much so that the piece now ranks number one for the following keywords:
- Theme park engineering
- Amusement park engineers
- Theme park engineering degree
It is always important to get creative. Regardless of what content theme you choose, though, make sure you focus on uniqueness, relevance, and value. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.
Maria Akhter is a content strategist at Circa Interactive. She’s passionate about creating the most valuable and optimized content for her clients and improving page rankings through strategic link building. A graduate of UC Davis, Maria worked as a publicist for North Atlantic Books before joining Circa. She has a certificate in data analytics using Excel and a certificate in digital marketing, social media, and e-commerce from The Wharton School. She also recently completed a search engine optimization course through UCSD’s professional advancement extension program.