SEO For Paw Bloggers Part 2: The Importance of Keyword Research

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Emily-boredby guest blogger Matt Beswick

For any blogger, keyword research is essential. For pretty much everyone, it's also the dullest and most annoying part of creating content. I'm hoping to change that. As an SEO based in Milton Keynes, keyword analysis has become one of the most important parts of my day job. By the end of the post I want you to be excited about including some research into your monthly content writing workflow.

Sound impossible? Well, maybe, but it's worth a try!

As a committed pet blogger you'll most likely be writing in your spare time. Whether you're a vet that likes to post about their work, or a dedicated dog owner who loves nothing better than to show off their experiences caring for man's best friend. Slowly but surely your blog grows, picking up new readers through the wonders of social networking and promoting your content through communities like BlogPaws. But how do you reach new faces? How do you increase the chances of finding a new audience through the search engines?

Choosing a topic.

Figure 1: Google's Keyword Tool
Google-keyword-tool
On the days where you're not sure what to write about, keyword research is a great way to find inspiration. So, fire up Google's Keyword Tool and do a brain dump of things that you're interested in writing about – enter one phrase per line (ideally two words or more) in the box at the top. If you want to, use the location options to choose the geographical area you'd like to target and then hit the search button.

At a technical level you're now seeing 'broad match' terms and the amount of searches / competition that word or phrase has on Google. This is useful if you want to get an idea of generic searches, but as bloggers we will probably want to be more specific. So, to get some more accurate data, check the tick box on the left hand side for 'phrase match' and wait for the new details to appear.

Google-keyword-tool-phraseThis now includes information on the amount of people searching for the phrase, not just the individual words, that you've entered as part of their search. For example, if you'd included 'dog products' you might see terms like "best dog products 2011", "dog products online", "dog products", and "dog products reviews".

Each of these will have a 'Competition' value (Low, Medium or High) and a monthly search count. What you're looking for here are terms with low competition and a search count that's as high as possible. You'll generally find that terms associated with buying things have lots of competition while those that are more editorial have less people challenging for them. This is because the numbers actually come from Google's paid search stats, not organic rankings, but the correlation between the two is usually very high.

Knowledge is Power

Now you're able to think of as many topics as you like and find out whether people are actually looking for that information. From 'cute pictures of puppies' to 'dog health advice', 'dog walks in Seattle', and 'how to pick a dog name'. You'll generally find that a longer phrase will have fewer searches, but that's no bad thing – chances are that there'll be less people writing about your topic of choice.

A great way to use this is to tweak your post titles based on this research. It might be that 'Walking your dog in Seattle' was the title you were originally going to use but 'Dog walking Seattle' is actually the phrase that most people are using. You really will be surprised as to the kind of search terms that people use – they're not always logical and differ hugely depending on location.

This really is something that you can use as a brain dump. All of the ideas you've had that you're just sure will get you some new readers can easily be checked to find out if it's the kind of things people are searching for. In doing this you'll have a far better idea as to whether your post will be found. It shouldn't be the only thing you take into account – after all, you're looking to cater to your readers, but mixing a well researched post in here and there certainly won't do you any harm.

So, have fun, and if you've got any questions feel free to ask below. I'm also on Twitter and Google+ – don't forget to add me!

  • http://social-savvy-pets.com/ Lorie Huston, DVM

    Great post, Matt. You’re right, keyword research is really important and can make or break your SEO efforts.
    One thing I would add is that the competition bar in Adwords is really meant for Adwords advertisers and, though it can be helpful for our purposes, I like to click through to the actual Google search engine results for the phrase and see how many websites are competing there. (You’ll see the actual number of websites showing results for that search term right under the search bar after you’ve performed the search. The lower the number, the lower the number of competing websites.)
    Also, look at the competition on the first page of those results. Are the results all for big, well-known websites or are some of them smaller more targeted websites? That can make a difference in the likelihood of getting listed on page one of the search results too. It’s hard to compete against really popular sites like Nike or Bank of America (for instance) but not so hard to rank against Mom and Pops Pet Store (yeah, I just made that name up…LOL).
    Thanks for posting this and great job. I think SEO is something that is really a big mystery for a lot of bloggers.

  • http://www.mattbeswick.co.uk/ Matt Beswick

    Lorie – thanks for a really insightful comment. I’ve been toying with how advanced to go with my next SEO post and one option is to go into more depth about keyword research and analysing the competition is more than likely the way I’ll end up going.
    There are a few really easy ways that you can look at which sites you’re up against and instantly tell whether you have any hope of ranking… in fact, you’ve inspired me – will make a start on that right now! :)

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    Thanks a lot, I recognize you making this posting available, the rest of the site is also well done. Have a great day

  • http://www.thetinydogsite.com Bernie

    My goodness, this is probably one of the most informative posts I have found on my pet blogging journey so far.
    Many thanks!
    PS: Your blog is REALLY impressive! Hope to be like you one day :)

  • http://pedinailtrimmerreview.com Jaycee Knorr

    Jaycee Knorr

    A big thank you for your blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  • http://eyeflow.com Pittsburgh SEO

    Yes, Knowledge IS Power, unfortunately Yahoo Site Explorer terminated their service last December, making Majestic SEO and aHrefs the primary players in the link research market. The Google keyword research tool is not reliable when it comes to search volume and SEMRush is a guesstimation tool – so, what does that leave us with when it comes to SEO research? Hard and lo0ng manual research. It appears human work still plays an important part in the keyword/link/seo research game and probably will continue to play its part for at least two more years.

  • http://www.mindboxseo.com/austin-search-engine-optimization austin seo

    I actually love keyword researching! I think it’s the most important part in SEO and pretty much the base for any further optimization work.
    In order to be more specific I usually pick from the match types list [exact].

  • http://www.socialbullets.com/ Social Bullets

    What are your customers searching for? Answering this question should should be the first step of any effective web marketing effort including SEO and keyword advertising.