How to find the right long tail keywords for your blog

Sam By Sam - Updated: September 06th, 2018
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How to find the right long tail keywords for your blog

Writing a blog with the correct long tail keywords is very important to the performance of your blog. Many bloggers will right what they are only passionate about, but this is only half of the story. No one will read the story in fact, if they cannot find it. To find it, your blog or any other content, should be formatted to synchronize with search engine user habits. You should take the time and pains to invest in research. In this case, an ounce of research is most definitely, worth more than a pound of yield. Before you continue to, or begin writing blogs, use this guide to seed your content with the right keywords. Half of the story is content, the other half is SEO.

I’ve been writing blogs for a little over a year but have built websites, been involved with marketing for years, creating my first website in 2005 with an affiliate network that grew the site to break the top 5000 websites globally. So the first rule of thumb is content. Without content you have nothing to optimize. You can write about what you’re passionate about but make sure to overlap that with what others are passionate about, aka what they’re passionate about searching for.

Social media traffic will change over time and building those communities takes a ton of work. So you can’t just rely on one channel. What is almost evergreen in a sense, is search engine traffic, people are searching for your content and expertise. The key is to format it correctly so that your passion meets the maximum audience size. Content is king, seo is queen, and they own 50% of the king/queen dom each. Take time to research your keywords or you’ll fail to encode your content to all it to reach people.

There are many blogs that are smaller in footprint, those aren’t designed for monetary gains unless they get lucky and resonate with a niche community which then supercharges itto grow purely organically without optimization. This is not the best strategy for building a business or a strong following to eventually monetize.

I have seen blogs go from zero organic search hits per day to upwards of 700 with social sharing, but then you need to check session times and bounce rates, which needs another article to fully explain, to fully vet. I would shoot for 5-10 hits a day for long tail keywords at a max for initial results. It’s a very hard nut to crack and the competition is fierce. Relayo’s traffic has doubled year over year, thanks in part to organic search hits. Our site is all about sharing expertise, so it naturally lends itself to blogging.
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Once i studied seo from lynda.com, industry experts with whom I sat down with and fellow bloggers in the community, I started realizing that there is a blogging code, and it starts with the right keywords.

The technical reasoning behind keywords

Keywords are a heavily prioritized heuristic element for Google. You’ve heard of pagerank and domain authority, and even some other search engine marketing or optimization related jargon. What google is trying to do is simply index, map and present the most relevantly valuable content for searchers. This means that the pages and content that are more dense with patterns, or alphanumerics aka language aka code, that people are searching for, the better your chances of being seen.

If you’re trying to increase your monthly page views, or get people to read your content, and want your monthly traffic to increase (which you can track for free using google analytics), then you have to optimize continually. Keywords aren’t only part of the weighting system, but they are the most important in google’s eyes.

The holy grail and most sought after position on the first page are the top three search results (below the promoted content - ads). You will garner a lot more traffic if you are not only optimized for content but for the eyes of the user. You can check out the heatmap here. The first three lines are the premium territory, the first page is where 99% of all click activity is generated.

More traffic, organic is ideal, the more sustainable and the more growth you can garner for your site or blog. This can then be further optimized via marketing drips like newsletters, click to actions, and other user journey pathways peppers with actions and marketing attributions. More on that here ().
So with this increase traffic, you can make more money from your blog it can engage with a larger audience and you can start permanently imprinting your contents footprint on google. This all feeds into the domain authority mentioned above and will also boost your chances of backlinking with associated sites who also rank highly with their own domain authority.

So why go long tail for your keywords?

It’s all about the competition. But what does this all mean? Keywords are descriptive elements of your blog post. If you wrote a blog post about seafood in San Francisco, a keyword like Seafood would be considered a 1 word phrase. I know, it sounds stupidly simple. But there is more, Google uses latent semantic mapping to also score the holistic value of words as they are related to each other and their proximity to each other.

If you uses a keyword string like ‘what seafood to eat in San Francisco’, this would be considered a long tail phrase. Three words or more in the phase is the threshold. The more descriptive your phrasing is, the better. The only downside is the audience size. The longer the phrase, the smaller the pool of people there are searching for something that specific. The upside is that there is less competition so there is a better chance that your content will be on the first page of the search results. This is the optimal or ‘goldilocks’ zone. When you take into account your domain rank, and it’s potential muscle to bring content to the first page, and the competition and the potential audience searching for it, there is a cross section where you can capture the audience's attention without other sites with the same content scooping them up if those other sites have a higher domain authority (phew, long run on sentence I know) (use www.alexa.com or www.similarweb.com to check your country and global domain rank).

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The conversion potential is higher near the longer tail keywords, and much lower at the left side where the phrases are shorter but there are many sites competing for these general wide arching searches.

Now that Google has been around for a while, along with SEO, SEM experts, even the long tail phrases can be met with lots of competition. That’s why it’s important to have a holistic seo, sem strategy that involves backlinks, social, and other tactics. But at least you can start to research where your passion and the potential clicks overlap. As your site ranking improves, so will the flexibility of your keywords.

How do you perform a keyword research campaign?

There are tools like Moz.com, sermrush.com, ahrefs.com, but the thing is you can easily spend 300+ dollar on a subscription stack like this. They are tremendously useful but for the high volume blogger. It’s another learning curve altogether to learn how to leverage these tools to their full potential.

There are free tools out there, but check it out, everyone’s out to make money right? So what happens is you get hooked, and then you outgrow and then you end up paying anyway… so it may be better to just pay from the start and burst on the scene. The freer, the more manual and arduous your life will be, but start this way first, that way you can learn the nitty gritty before you move into the mansion.

Google’s keyword planner is a tool within their adwords.com platform, it’s great, and along with google trends, can really provide a view into what the audiences are searching, and what the competition is going for. Use google itself to search and then check the domain ranking for sites that have the same content for you, if they are much higher, than select a different batch of keywords as a variation on your writing theme.

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Here you’ll see where you enter a phrase, then you’ll see the monthly searches, longer tails having smaller search volume, but then you’ll notice lower competition as well… find a bunch of these and then start dripping out the content to support these keyword campaigns.

Keysearch.com is a tool that i’ve heard great things about so it is my recommendation. It has some of the most useful, simple to use interfaces out there. You enter a keyword phrase and it will give you the vitals like and draw a competition score. You’ll also get related keywords as well, so that the brainstorming session will be alleviated.
For content creators, keysearch is really popular. It’s a good deal to, and no I don’t have any affiliation to them. 11-17 dollars per month. That’s more than half the price of competitors.

So how do you select the keywords for you? The right keywords?

It’s a cross section of competitors (other sites), the volume of search and competition score. The search volume is the number of times in a month that the term was searched for within a month. The competition score is kind of like all the fish going after the same bait. These two elements will give you an idea as to how difficult a phrase will be to rank on the first page for.

It is brutal out there, as Moz.com has found through tons of research, you have to be in the first 3 results to garner 90% of the traffic. Spot 3 only gets 10% of the clicks and below 10 spots the clicks cut ro 2%.

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When you start out, your domain authority is low. You need to work to build this up as your ranking will be the launching point for your hosted content. If your competition score above 30, you’re on the right track… keep at it.

Go to moz.com to find your domain score. The moz bar can display the domain authorities for sites you visit, so when you’re on a research sprint, you can quickly scan relevant stats like ranking, domain authority, etc…

Don’t forget about that latent semantic stuff I was talking about. Keywords like associated keywords. If you’re talking about cars, then you may mention engines, wheels, brands, etc… this is Google’s way of knowing that your content has depth as you’re proving the full picture on a subject, and Googski’s likies!

You DO NOT want to stuff or force unnatural keyword content. This will destroy your ranking. Pepper those keywords, and make it sound human. In fact, read your blog out loud, the more human it sounds, the better it will be as it will be natural. Don’t overuse a single keywords, or over saturate, read more about latent semantics (link coming).

For sure, long tail keywords are the right strategy for boosting your web traffic. Mess up, get better and don’t give up. You will see an increase in your traffic and once you master it, you become very valuable. So get frustrated and break through. I’m still trying to figure it out!