In our ongoing Live Case Study with Vera, she has set up her niche affiliate blog and is at the point of creating content and building a readership.
Now it's time for the fun part: Keyword Targeting. I realize not everyone gets as excited about this as I do (lol) but it's fun once you get the hang of it.
In today's post you'll learn my "secrets" as we walk through it live with Vera. We'll look at keyword research (simplified!), how to select keyword phrases to target, the importance of examining the intention of those searches, and how to create blog post titles and content that get clicks and make sales...
What IS Keyword Targeting?
It simply means you're targeting specific keyword phrases that people are searching for online, by creating content that is optimized for those phrases. The goal is to make it easy for your target market to find exactly what they're looking for - ideally on YOUR blog or website.
Otherwise known as SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, but I take a more simplified approach that is both easier and gets great results.
Keyword Research - Simplified
Most people completely over-complicate the process of keyword research. Much of the data you get from various tools is completely useless in the current organic search results anyway. Particularly the "competition" data.
All you really need to know is what your market is searching for, and how they're searching for it - meaning, which words they use to ask specific questions. That's exactly what a specific search query is: a question. And your job, as a blogger or marketer, is to respond to that question or query with the solution. Period.
There are no magic numbers when it comes to search volume for keyword phrases. Your job (over time, of course) is to target them all, even those with very low search volume IF they are relevant or if they're commercial keyword phrases.
I don't use fancy software for keyword research. I simply use WordTracker's Free Tool at http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com. The free tool is limited to 20 searches per day, but you can view up to 100 results per search. And you can always register with a second email address if you need more than 20 searches/day. That said, I tend to do my research "as I go" and rarely use up the daily limit.
* Note: There has been a major update and the free tool is now unlimited.
Choosing Keyword Phrases To Target
So how do you choose which keyword phrases to target if the competition data is pretty much useless and search volume doesn't really matter? Good question!
In the beginning, when you first start your blog or website, you want to target all of the "base" keyword phrases in your niche that will be important to your target market - particularly new visitors. To give you a live example, on my low carb blog I targeted things like: starting a low carb diet, how to figure out net carbs, low carb food list, etc. These posts are constantly being referenced - even two years later!
So the first step is to make sure you cover the core content, or the core topics, of your niche by creating "pillar" posts or pages that your readers most want/need. *If you didn't do this in the beginning, it's never too late.
From there you simply continue writing content that "answers" your market's searches - which is exactly what Keyword Targeting is: turning their "keyword question" (or search) into a "keyword response" (content).
This will all start with your WordPress Categories, which should be general keyword phrases. (See that link for a detailed explanation on setting up Categories and choosing Category Titles.) Let's say I have a Category on my low carb blog for "Low Carb Recipes". I just type in "low carb recipe" into WordTracker, and see what kind of recipes my market is searching for:
Not only do "long tail keyword phrases" convert better, they're also easier to rank for in the major search results. The reason they convert better is simple: they're more specific, which means you can target a very specific need with a very specific solution. And "specific" ALWAYS converts better than "general" .
Using the example keyword phrases to the right, I see "low carb alcoholic drink recipes". This is a very specific search query. We know exactly what they're looking for.
Going back a bit, I find that "low carb drinks" is a keyword phrase, and would make for a great new Category on my blog. Why? Because there are tons of searches for different kinds of drinks! This would give me an opportunity to target ALL of those queries such as: low carb starbucks drinks, low carb energy drinks, etc - as well as the alcoholic drinks.
My next step is to outline a blog post for "low carb alcoholic drink recipes". It's easy enough to find a handful of great recipes to share from around the web, giving (link) credit to the sources of those recipes. Or maybe I have a few of my own to share.
What about the all-important Call-To-Action?
This is obviously an "informational" search. They are looking for recipes online. So 1) you can invite them to sign up for your mailing list for even more great recipes, and/or 2) I went to Amazon.com and typed in "low carb alcoholic" and found a whole slew of products and cookbooks specifically on this topic. BINGO! I could simply add a carousel widget with a variety of options to display in the post.
Intent - (The Key To Conversions)
You want a good mix of informational posts, engaging/discussion posts, and of course reviews/commercial posts on your blog. Making each of these posts work for you lies in the intent behind the keyword phrase you're targeting.
You'll have multiple goals with your content marketing: getting links/shares, getting comments & engagement, getting email subscribers, and making sales. You won't achieve all of these goals on each post, so it's important to use a Call To Action that matches the keyword phrase you're targeting.
I often use Keyword Modifiers when doing keyword research to specifically find commercial keyword phrases. By typing in "buy" when searching phrases about "almond meal" I find that people are searching "where to buy almond meal" - BINGO! I know where to buy it, so I create a post and tell them, using my affiliate link of course.
Informational keyword phrases are great too, particularly for how-to content that gets links & shares, or as inspiration for info-products and/or freebies & opt-in incentives.
The bottom line is: people DO buy online, so target those keyword phrases they are using when they have their credit card in hand. People also search for information online, which is a great way to build a readership and your mailing list.
Knowing which to do when lies in the "intent of the search" - so get in the mind of the person searching that phrase. What do they really want? Deliver exactly that when you target that phrase, and follow up with a strong call-to-action!
Writing Blog Post Titles Around Keyword Phrases
Your blog post titles are extremely important. Not only do you want to include the keyword phrase you're targeting, with the words in the exact same order, you also want the title to be engaging or compelling enough to get people to CLICK on it.
If you struggle writing Post Titles (ie headlines), try this free tool from Advanced Marketing Institute:
This free tool will help you come up with more engaging titles, which will improve your Click-Through Rate - not only in the search engines but on Social Media sites and other places around the web where people see your link.
Let's do some live examples for Vera's blog. In my last post, I said:
"Choose five keyword phrases you want to target, and let's examine the intention of each phrase. I'll help you come up with Blog Post Titles that include those phrases..."
Vera replied with these keyword phrases she chose, that relate to her new blog at FaithAdventurist.com:
- walk by faith
- leap of faith
- hope and faith
- have a little faith
- picture verse faith hope and love
- faith hope and love gifts
- wall art with faith hope and love
At first glance you might just start writing a blog post around each of these keyword phrases. But again, "intent of the search" is the most important factor. You can get a good idea of the "intent" by looking at the related keyword phrases in your keyword search results.
When you search "walk by faith" you find that some people are looking for tattoos, others are looking for lyrics to a song by that title, and some are looking for the meaning of the bible verse. By this you can determine who (or which intent) you want to target specifically, and it may give you ideas for related blog posts as well.
Looking at the keyword results, I would target the longer phrase "walk by faith not by sight" which includes the shorter phrase but also broadens your reach by targeting both the shorter and longer phrases together in your title.
For Vera's blog, I recommend a post titled:
"How to Walk By Faith, Not By Sight - 3 Fun Ways To Practice"
A title like that would get my attention and make me curious about the three ways I can practice this age-old advice! As for a call-to-action, given this is an information search, it's a great opportunity to invite readers to subscribe by email for more fun "faith adventures" with her.
The keyword phrase "faith hope and love gifts" that Vera chose is obviously a commercial keyword phrase - which means a buyer is searching for a product to buy!
This immediately makes me want to go research "Christian Gifts" - which is a good keyword phrase, and would be a great new Category for Vera's blog. There are a lot of more specific keyword phrases in that list that would make for great blog posts, such as: Christian baby gifts, Christian graduation gifts, personalized Christian gifts, etc.
Vera's post for "faith hope and love gifts" can go in this Category of course.
Good title options include:
- Where to Buy Faith Hope and Love Gifts Online
- My Favorite Faith Hope and Love Gifts
- Faith Hope and Love Gifts with Free Shipping
- Personalized Faith Hope and Love Gifts
- Best Deals on Faith Hope and Love Gifts
Actually, Vera could write all five blog posts, featuring different sources/merchants and products in each post, as it relates to the title!
Another keyword phrase Vera chose was "hope and faith". This is an informational search, but Vera could easily recommend her "gift" posts above in this post since it's highly related. Example titles targeting this keyword phrase could be:
* Eye-Opening "Hope and Faith" Bible Study To Share
* Hope and Faith In Practice - Try This Today
We've covered a lot of ground already in this lengthy tutorial, but there's SO much more I could share with you in regards to keyword research, combining keyword phrases, content marketing, and of course increasing traffic & conversions using smart keyword targeting...
Hopefully this post has given you some insight into the process, and some practical tips you can go ahead and start applying immediately, though.
I would love to hear your thoughts...
Have questions? Leave a comment below.
Enjoy this post? Be sure to share it with your friends!
p.s. I'll be teaching a very detailed "Keyword Targeting" class soon if you'd like to tune in and learn the finer details of this strategy so you can boost your traffic and sales dramatically. Make sure you're subscribed by email (below) to get notification on the upcoming interactive class full of live examples.