Keyword Research for Blogging

This is a guest post by Benjamin Sappey, editor at and A2X Consulting, a website which help small business growth.

Finding relevant keywords for your website/blog and having the ability to analyze your competitors is a major key to success. The first step is to determine your subject matter. This will help you to understand and analyze your competitors as well as establish the direction of your content. These factors are essential in helping you improve your Google Rank!

Before starting your research, it is important to note that there is no “magical” process which assures you the top position in a search engine. Some factors in determining your rank can be strange and remember that companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo guard their secret algorithms in a secure place.

Step 1: The Idea

The idea is the first thing to consider. If you want to create a website or improve the rank of an existing one you should already have a subject matter in mind for your site.

Dogs? Football? Soccer? Olympics games? Fashion? Blogging? You know these words, but there is one problem with them – they are too common. The competition from many other websites are too well known and will beat out your Google rank. You will have to find some other, more targeted keywords related to your subject that has a lower level of competition.

Step 2: A List of Keywords

To find relevant keywords, start by writing every idea you have, every word or phrase you find about your subject. Search the web, seek ideas on Google, on social media sites, etc. Cast a wide net and aim for at least 25 ideas – there should be no limits. You may just need blogging inspiration. When you have determined your idea, you will need tools to generate thousands of keywords related to your subject.

How to Generate Keywords

Using Google Adwords Keywords Tool, enter one of your words (example: “blogging tips”).

Google Keywords Adwords Tool
Google Keywords Adwords Tool Search

Google will generate a long list of keywords related to your idea.

Google Keywords Adwords Tool Search Results
Google Keywords Adwords Tool Search Results

Do not waste time checking the results one by one as another software will filter the results for you later. Export your results into an excel spreadsheet and repeat the process with other keywords on your list. At the end you will probably have an extensive list of words and expressions. In your final list, some keywords won’t match your idea and others will generate a low number of daily searches. As these are not valuable, eliminate them.

Step 3: Analyze Your Keywords

To analyze our keywords, we will use Market Samurai, a powerful software which will help you determine what keywords are the most relevant in terms of traffic and competition.

Editor’s Note:

The link above is not an affiliate link, and the following examples are done with the free trial version of the software which gives you 15 days worth of access.

This post will not describe every detail of the software. It is covering just one strategy to decide your keywords, and there are so many ways to determine keywords. I suggest you watch the Market Samurai video tutorials, especially the ones for “Keyword research” and “SEO Competition” which have transcripts and screenshots right below the videos. These tutorials are really interesting and they will give you a global vision of SEO.

In Market Samurai, click on the section “Keyword Research.” Add every keyword you have (you can add thousands if you want). Click on “Add Keywords,” and then “Analyze Keywords.”

Market Samurai Keyword Research
Market Samurai Keyword Research

Market Samurai will open a new window and give you the following information about your keywords, based on the options you selected.

Market Samurai Keyword Research Results
Market Samurai Keyword Research Results

The two most important columns are SEOT (Traffic) and SEOC (Competition) (see the glossary for more details). SEOT gives you the maximum traffic generated for a related keyword if your website is at the top position in Google.

Use the checkbox at the top of the screen to select factors you want to apply. As an example, (SEOT: 80 and SEOC: 30000 or 50000). There is no perfect rule about how these numbers work. In order to understand how they work, try checking off different filters to get a sense of how the results vary. If this process is confusing, try asking for help on forums. Based on your personal experience, you will be able to determine what the best options are.

When you apply all filters, you should have a very low number of results. From one of them, select your keywords. To do that, click on the “key picture” on the left, it will open a new window in which you can generate new keywords.

If you decide to focus your analysis on the first results, now is the time to analyze your competition. To do that, click on the “key picture” – it will open a new window, then click “SEO Competition” and “Generate Results.”

Market Samurai will analyze the top 10 results on Google and show you a lot of indicators such as the Page Rank (PR), the number of Page BackLinks (BLP), etc. For a complete analysis, it is important to understand every indicator and you can find a description of each one on Market Samurai’s website.

Market Samurai SEO Competition
Market Samurai SEO Competition

To resume, and if you want just a superficial or quick overview of your potential competition, focus on PR and BLP. The lower is the PR, the easier it will be for you to compete to a top position.

Additional Tools for Keyword Research

If you don’t succeed in finding valuable keywords, you can try to determine what your competitor’s keywords are by visiting websites such as Keyword Spy or Google Keyword Tool.

When you think you have a good keyword, you can use other tools to confirm your opinion, such as SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty (paid tool by SEOMoz). This will give you the following information about your chosen keywords.

SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool Results
SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool Results

You can spend a lot of hours searching for a relevant keyword and you may discover the best one by accident. Do not focus only on the current tools you are using. Keep looking for the latest news and information about your subject. Is there a new concept? New trends? The latest model? While all of these technical tools will give you some valuable results based on existing researches, unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) it can’t give you what people will search for tomorrow.

Your Keyword Research Process

How do you do keyword research when it comes to your main blog, blog posts, or article marketing? What tools do you use – do you like the ones mentioned above or prefer something else? What other ways can you think of to make your keyword research more valuable when it comes to getting better rankings in search engines?

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  1. says

    Excellent tutorial Benjamin. I’ve used both Market Samurai and Micro Niche Finder before and they both work great. Combined with SeoMoz’s massive toolset, you can come up with pretty great ideas. Really an awesome post and one of the best step by step guides I have seen in a long time.
    Aaron just posted Free Blogs

  2. says

    This is an excellent tutorial. I have been looking for just such a thing. I have one client who isn’t really getting it and I think this will help explain what I am trying to get him to understand. Thanks!

  3. says

    I have to agree with Aaron. This is a great tutorial for anyone looking at ways to generate a list of keyword ideas. I think the great thing about Market Samurai is that it gives you a really good idea about the amount of traffic you might expect from any given keyword, and the amount of work you will have to do to rank for this keyword based on your competition.

    • says

      Exactly – you have to think about the balance between the work you will have to put into a keyword vs. the reward of the results.

  4. says

    First of all, Benjamin works for me at – so I am biased! Great post Benjamin.

    Just wanted to mention that we are simply consumers of the tools listed above. We wrote about them because we use them and not because we get paid for endorsing them. This is just the system that has worked for us and for our clients.

    Thanks to everyone for the nice comments. Let Benjamin or I know if you have any questions and thanks for the opportunity to participate on!

    Eric Cohen

  5. says

    I have grown to love this part of the process. The excitement, the anticipation… then checking for relevant domains… its like gambling to some of us now. :)

    Then to take if further i highly recommend everyone do some keyword research on interesting phrases like; who is, free, love, what is, water, how to, find….and many others because they can give you massive insight into industries, demographic groups and society as a whole.
    Marc just posted Marc-Beharry- Suburban Snapshots- Why Having a Toddler is Like Being at a Frat Party http-ur1ca-0ems0

    • says

      Betting on keywords for things such as Adwords or PPC is like gambling – you don’t know which words will cost you the most and result in the least conversions. That’s why keyword research can be so important!

    • says

      That’s my favorite, although the Market Samurai is starting to look good now that I played with the trial for a bit!

    • says

      Very true! Looking for specific keyword phrases and long tail definitely helps give you an idea on what to write individual blog posts about.

    • says

      Keyword stuffing is definitely a no-no. You can put a lot of keywords on a page strategically without over-doing it!

  6. says

    I think using such keyword tool is good way but firstly we should bang our head and get out some ideas. Keywords are not easy to target but better targetting keyphrases is better!

    I have used Google adwords external tool before but the results were not promising.

    I am currently using MarketSamurai and its really good. It not only shows search amount but shows many other things.

    Oh! I have not used wordtracker before so can;t say much about it! Still i would love to know if you people do use any other such tool and what are the feedbacks of them…

    • says

      Phrases are much easier to work with than just single and popular keywords, unless you have a SEO mastermind working on them for you!

  7. says

    For every blog, it is really a necessity to do a detailed keyword research before becoming a popular and attractive blog.
    However, it is also a fact that most of them are not good at SEO indeed, so many of them are facing such a bad situation – want to gain a better ranking is search engines but don’t how to start such a “BIG” campaign!
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    • says

      Sometimes it is best to get a little professional advice before embarking on an area you’re not sure of, keyword research being one of those areas!

  8. says

    Benjamin, I do something very similar although I do not have the paid SEOMOZ tool you mention.

    I also have Market Samurai but it is so damn slow! I use it only for finding the search figures for long keyword lists, because Google KW Tool only returns 200 results. Whereas Market Samurai can return thousands and I can export to CSV and open in Excel.

    I also don’t use MS for competition analysis. Instead, I use the free SEOQuake plugin. After a while, you don’t even need plugins or tools to analyse the competition – you get a good “feel” for whether you can conquer page one simply by looking at it!
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    • says

      That’s a good point… after a while do get a feel for what is easy to target vs. what will take a LOT of work. SEOQuake is a great free plugin too – I have found a lot of great information out about competitors using that on Firefox.

    • says

      Yeah, having the additional terms generated may help in getting you to focus on something less competitive to start with, then work your way up to the harder to rank for terms.

  9. says

    I hate keyword research….

    I generally just use google’s keyword tools. I start with a notebook sheet full possible search terms that I might use to look up a subject. I try short tail and long tail keywords. Then I take one was that get traffic but are not impossible to beat. In most cases this works well. On some of the more popular terms I can get to second or third page for those keywords. On the main keywords I concentrate on those and get them to the first and second page.
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    • says

      Sounds like a good plan… I’m starting to get the feeling that keyword research is one of the most despised parts of SEO and website building. :)

    • says

      Sometimes it is best. In the end, I’m just the type that enjoys learning to do things, even if it takes much longer and is probably less efficient than outsourcing. But I figure I can use the knowledge for the future, so it makes it worthwhile.

  10. says

    I really really really hate keyword researching. It is the only thing about making money online that I hate to do. Maybe it is because I struggle at it but I normally get someone else to do it for me.
    Dean Saliba just posted SkyCPM Dead -amp Buried

    • says

      It can be a bit boring and tedious… sometimes a bit overwhelming, especially with having to review all the stats and competitors. If you can get someone else to do it, then that’s good, but otherwise, you have to go for it as it can be highly lucrative in the long run.

  11. says

    Really its one of the best tutorials I have read. Keywords research is the main task for making a new blog. Almost all campaigns depend upon it. I use free Wordtracker and Google Adword tool for it, Keyword Spy is great tool for it too. I am pretty much pleased with your good work. You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.

    • says

      Thanks! I agree, it is a very important when you’re getting started to make sure you are focusing on the right keywords. WordTracker I hear is a great tool as well.

  12. says

    Excellent post on keyword research – quite illustrative too.

    I have my reservations on the AdWords tool though. Most of the time, it’s oriented towards attracting Google’s SEM customers and hence potential traffic/monthly traffic is most of the time bloated. If you compare AdWords tool data with other tools you will see the difference.

    Another important thing is to get ideas from the ‘auto fill’ box of Google search home page.
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    • says

      I agree with you about AdWords. That’s why I use this tool only to generate some idea, I don’t really take into account the potential traffic and other data, just the list of keywords. I prefer use some other tools mentioned to analyze everything at the same time.

  13. says

    This is among my favorite posts here at Kikolani! A brilliant composition by Benjamin.. The step by step procedure for Keyword research is hard to find and also people don’t disclose their methods publicly. I have got some different tips from which I use regularly. I personally don’t find “Market Samurai” easy to use. Anyways, I concentrate more on finding keywords for my Blog posts and Domain names, rather than for article marketing..
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  14. says

    I for a change do not agree with the above comment by Ajith. No dsrespect but with regards to your quote ‘it’s oriented towards attracting Google’s SEM customers and hence potential traffic/monthly traffic is most of the time bloated’, I would suggest that Google do not need to hype about anything whatsoever. Even if they sit quite throughout the working year, customers will come to them just because of the massive reputation they have. As for me I completely trust the Adword too for my Keyword research and I know very well that they are very much accurate and above all they are free. It gives you stats which even a 100$ Keyword Research tool will not provide you.

  15. says

    Market Samurai is a particularly powerful tool, I recently got the free trial and decided not to go for the full version as there’s plenty you can do in 15 days, but long term I’m definitely going to think about it. Like you say, google adwords is free and the most useful tool for any keyword ideas you’ll ever find!

    Crafting content based around popular keywords is the tricky part – some people go over board and copy becomes almost unreadable, but done right this is a strategy that can potentially reap real rewards.

    Anyay good read, shared on twitter!

  16. says

    So you use market samurai? I’m more of a micro niche finder kinda gal myself but, whatever you use, in my experience it’s just so hard to find keywords for a niche that you can rank highly for. It seems like all the best keywords have been taken! :(

  17. says

    Internet if daily changing and best keywords today are not tomorrow’s one! I agree with to say that it is difficult to find some keywords where there is no competition but I can tell you that sometimes I can find some really interesting niche of course there is some competition but these one is really weak or not dedicated to keywords you want to target. A good things to find some keywords (related to Internet business as example) is to check evolution and trends in different countries to determine what will be visitor’s request tomorrow!!
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