“Hey Julie, I’m working on this post about blah blah blah, and I’m having trouble coming up with some decent keywords. Could you give me some?”
I get this email several times a day, every day. And my answer is usually “sure I can.” And I can. But so can you. And then you don’t have to wait around for me. The trick is using Google’s keyword tool.
Before I show you how to use the tool, let’s take a moment to review some of the main points about keywords. Actually, we aren’t using keywords. We’re using keyphrases. A keyphrase is a 2-5 word phrase that you think people will actually search for. And when people search for that term (or keyphrase), you want your post to come up.
For example, let’s say that you’re writing a post about surviving child abuse (happy subject matter, no?). So what keyphrase will pop you up to the all-important first three pages of a Google search? To the Google Keyword Tool!
First, let’s be clear of what we aren’t talking about when looking for a keyphrase. We AREN’T just talking about tossing a bunch of random, unrelated words into Yoast. Don’t just pick “kids, abuse, survive, childhood” and toss that into your Yoast keyword box. The days of tags and keywords being interchangeable are over. And remember, Yoast is only there to check your work and make sure your keyphrase is in all the right place. You have to pick a good keyphrase and work it into your title, url, main post, SEO title, etc. All Yoast will do is tell you if you’ve done that.
Now then. Here’s what the keyword tool looks like:
Wow, it looks helpful already!
So let’s say I have no idea what keyphrase I want to use. I’m just going to type “child abuse” into the keyword tool and see what comes up. By the way, the only boxes you have to fill out are the word or phrase and the stupid captcha thing. You can leave the rest of it blank.
When I put those terms in and click “search,” I can scroll down to find something that looks like this:
(For clarity’s sake, you might want to do this on your own computer, as the keyword results are way too wide to fit in a normal post.)
So now Google is giving me a bunch of information. In the far left column, it’s giving me a lot of different combinations of keyphrases. In the second column, it’s telling me if the competition for that keyphrase is high, medium, or low (spoiler alert: Our idea of “low” competition and Google’s idea of “low” competition is not the same). In the third and forth columns, it’s giving me the number of people in the world who have searched for that keyphrase in the last month, and the number of people in the United States that have searched for that term in the last month.
Now. Here’s where you have to work some magic. You don’t want to go after a keyphrase that everyone and their mother has been searching for, because then you generally have to compete with giant media corporations that have 20 people on staff, full-time, to SEO up their posts. On the other hand, you want to choose a keyphrase that a decent amount of people are searching for, because that’s how you help your traffic.
So. Is there a sweet spot to shoot for? Why yes there is. It’s typically between 50,000 and 4,000 global monthly searches. So, given that criteria, I see a number of good options: child abuse statistics, child abuse stories, child abuse and neglect, etc. Any or all of those would make great keyphrases that I could weave throughout my post. But I want to see if there’s a good keyphrase that is a bit more related to surviving child abuse, because I’m weird like that.
So I’m going to try the keyphrase again, this time with “surviving child abuse” as the keyphrase. Here’s what I got:
Wow. Boo on that front. As you can see, “surviving child abuse” doesn’t have nearly as many searches (only 720) as some of the other keyphrases I mentioned do. So I’m not going to use that keyphrase. But before I quit, let me try one more phrase . . .
And BOOM. “Child abuse survivors” has 9,900 global monthly searches, so it’s right in that sweet spot I mentioned before (50k-4k global monthly searches). But I may have found one I like even better. Check out both “abuse survivors” and “child abuse stories.” Both of those keyphrases are still in the sweet spot, but have a much higher search volume than “child abuse survivors.”
So I’ve made the decision that I’m going to use “abuse survivors” as my keyphrase. The beauty of this phrase, of course, is that I can say “child abuse survivors” all throughout my post, and I’m still getting my “abuse survivors” keyphrase in there.
Now I just have to remember to get that keyphrase into the first 4 words of my title, into my url, and sprinkled throughout my post. I’m going to use Abuse Survivors: Childhood Lost as my post title. And I’m going to edit my url slug to “abuse-survivors.” I’ll use the same title for my SEO title.
- Keywords are not tags. Don’t throw out a bunch of random words separated by a comma
- Keyphrases not keywords
- Google’s Keyword Tool will rock your blogging world
- Ignore Google’s competition rankings. Our idea of high, medium, and low competition are very different from theirs
- Shoot for keyphrases that have between 50K and 4k global monthly searches. That’s your “sweet spot.: