This past weekend I was re-watching one of my favorite shows, The IT Crowd, and I couldn’t help but laugh at how Jen learned what the Internet is:
Behold! This tiny black box is… THE INTERNET! You don’t need to be a geek to know that’s not actually true and get the joke, right? But I always find reality quite amusing, and in this case RealLife™ is as surprising as IT Crowd’s joke—tons of users believe that the Internet is this:
A lot of people believe that Google is the Internet. It’s where it starts and it’s where it ends. Or are you telling me you’ve never seen a user typing a URL in Google‘s search box? Because I’ve seen it thousands of times:
So let’s face it: Google is not the Internet, but Google‘s the interface a lot of users use to connect to it so… it pretty much is. That’s why it’s so important we invest some time and resources in improving our SEO. Today, I’d like to discuss one of the first steps in any SEO strategy: keyword research. Shall we get started?
Relevant Terms and Proof Terms
When preparing this post, I came across this interesting article by Jayson DeMers in which he introduces the concepts of relevant terms and proof terms:
- Relevant terms are those concepts related to the topic you’re covering. Google uses them to make sure you’re providing comprehensive coverage of your topic. For instance, if you’re writing about iPhones, related terms might be “technology”, “apps”, or “iOS”. If, on the other hand, you’re talking about WordPress, these terms might be “plugin“, theme”, or “CMS”.
- Proof terms are words or phrases that must be used when discussing a particular topic. In Jayson’s example, these could be “phone”, “Apple”, or even “mobile”. In ours, “web” or “blog” might be the terms we’re looking for.
A basic prerequisite for positioning our content well is to use these keywords in our articles. If you follow our advice to be the first result on Google, these keywords come out almost naturally, but it doesn’t hurt to devote a little effort, as I was saying, to studying and researching which keywords are relevant to our content.
How to Find the Right Keywords
Let’s take a look at 4 techniques to discover the relevant keywords your blog needs to address.
1. Use Keyword Research Tools
Where there’s a problem, there’s an opportunity for anyone willing to fix it. And keyword research is no exception. In this post by Phil Lloyd we have 7 different tools to find the relevant keywords of our website. I would like to highlight Google’s Keyword Planner among all the proposals he proposes.
Google‘s Keyword Planner was created as a complement to AdWords, Google‘s ad service, and is used to determine which keywords are relevant to our business and, therefore, deserve our investing in them to implement our SEM strategy. Although the original idea was and is to help you create better advertising campaigns, the results it offers are also extremely useful in identifying those keywords that you should include in your content and that will help you grow organically.
To use the Keyword Planner, simply search for your primary keyword (for example, “WordPress”) and let Google return all the related keywords:
If you look for very generic concepts, the results you’ll get will also be very generic. Just look at the example above, where the related keywords we’ve found include vague concepts like “themes”, “blog“, “cms“…. Sure, it’s nice to know them, but they’re not enough. Keep researching and look for more specific combinations.
Tip: There’s plenty of tools that’ll help you find relevant keywords. Use them wisely, as they’ll give you invaluable ideas and will help you with your long-term SEO strategy.
2. Play With Google’s Suggestions
Another fun way to search for relevant keywords is to do what any other user does: Google it! When you look for something in Google, the search engine provides some suggestions on what you might be interested in:
And that’s all you need to do: look for those things you’re visitors might be interested in and take a look at Google‘s predictions. For instance, in Nelio we develop plugins for WordPress, so “WordPress” is clearly a topic I’m interested in. If I look for it, I can see other relevant keywords, such as “blog”, “plugins” or even “español” (Spanish). Can I use those keywords in my blog posts some how? Do I need to look for more specific terms? Use this information and keep digging!
Tip: Play with Google, try different searches, investigate, put yourself in the shoes of a potential user who might want to find you…. the more information you get, the better.
3. Take a Look at Your Competitors
Blogs that cover the same topic as yours are also a very good source of inspiration. In a recent post on our blog, Antonio stressed the importance of reading other people’s content before writing your own:
To be a great writer you must first be a great reader. And the same thing happens in the digital world. You should monitor other blogs out there that deal with topics similar to yours. Seeing what they write about can be very inspiring for you.
Antonio’s advice does not only apply to ideas on what to blog about, but also on the identification of relevant keywords. Look at blogs, websites, and forums from your niche market and see which concepts are most commonly discussed and used. Identify those that are also relevant to your site and incorporate them.
Tip: To be a great writer you have to be a great reader. Take a look at what others do, especially those who are well positioned, and adapt their strategy to yours.
4. Write Your Own Content
I didn’t want to end this post without mentioning the importance of writing for our readers. One of the common tips you’ll find everywhere is to focus on search engines primarily—add all your metas, focus on SEO, do keyword research, be careful with your links, and so on and so forth. Even though this is obviously an important aspect to consider, I think there are other things that are way more important.
The Internet is created for and by people like you and me, so why shouldn’t you put these people first? If you write content that is relevant and useful to your users, the keywords will emerge naturally and your website will end up well positioned. It is not immediate and requires time and patience, but in the end it is worth it. Don’t get obsessed with SEO strategies. Now you know you have tools that will help you, but none will give you the solution today for tomorrow. Work constantly and the results will come.
Tip: The Internet was designed to help people. Write with your human readers in mind and everything else will magically fit together.
Search engines play a very important role in giving visibility to our website. That’s why it’s important to understand how they work and play by their rules. The more attractive and relevant our content is, the more likely it is that it will appear among Google’s first results.
Although it is true that keywords are no longer as important today as they were a few years ago, they are still very important when it comes to positioning our website well and are an enormous source of inspiration and ideas. We have a lot of online resources to identify those keywords that best match our website; take advantage of them and write the best possible content with them.