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How to Select Good SEO Keywords

Posted By Guest Blogger 27th of April 2011 Search Engine Optimization 138

This guest post is by Jeremy Myers of TillHeComes.org.

The problem with good keywords is that they are usually not words at all. Good SEO keywords are usually phrases, that is, two or more words strung together in a saying or idea. When you enter keywords into your meta keywords section, don’t use words, use phrases.

Why? I’ll give you two reasons.

1. There are too many single keywords

While you can use single-word keywords, you will be vying for position with the millions of other websites that also use the same keyword.

Let’s say, for example, you are writing a post about how to prepare a manuscript for ebook publishing. While you could use the keyword “ebook,” you will be up against the millions of other blog posts about ebooks, even if they are about ebook readers, ebook sales, or ebook marketing.

By lengthening your keyword into a keyword phrase, such as “ebook publishing,” or maybe even “prepare manuscript for ebook publishing,” you significantly narrow the field of competitive websites, which allows your page to rise higher in Google Search results for that phrase.

Reason 2. Nobody searches for single keywords

When was the last time you searched for something on Google using only one word? That’s right: never.

If you are searching for ebook publishing tips, you don’t search for “ebook” or for “publishing.” Both are too broad. Instead, you search for the complete phrase, “ebook publishing tips.” If that is how you search for relevant sites, then that is also how you should write and prepare your own pages and posts so others can find your sites.

Boost relevance using Google Insights for Search

One helpful site I use to search for relevant keyword phrases to use in my blog posts is Google Insights for Search.

At the top of the page, you enter the single keyword or keyword phrase that you’d like to write a post about. You can choose options including a geographical area of the world you want to focus on, or which timeframe you are interested in, and then hit Search.

Google Insights

Here is a brief video from Google about what Google Insights can do.

Let’s look a little deeper into how you can use Google Insights for Search to write blog posts around a central keyword or phrase. Let us say, for example, you wanted to write a post on the “top blogs.” If you entered “top blogs” as a search term, and did not change anything else, you would discover that since 2004, the interest in searches related to “top blogs” has been steadily increasing.

This is good news! You have hit on a rising trend which might make a good blog post or, better yet, blog series.

Interest over time

But Google Insights also provides you with a list of related keywords and key phrases that people have been searching for on Google, as well as keyword trends:

Top searches

The phrase you originally searched for, “top blogs,” does not appear to be the best choice of keywords. Better and more popular phrases appear on the left, with breakout trends on the right. As indicated, the word “breakout” means that over the timespan chosen, this keyword has trended by 5000% or more.

Choose a few of the phrases or words that are most popular or are trending upward, and write your post focusing on those terms. As the picture below shows, you might be better off focusing on terms like “top blog,” “the top blogs,” “best blogs 2010,” or “best design blogs.”

However—and this is crucial—this search, while helpful, does not show recent trending. Remember, it is using the default search criteria, which go all the way back to 2004. You want more recent trends to understand current searches. So one thing you could do is adjust the timeframe filter, maybe to just the last 12 months, as shown in the picture below:

Reseraching "best blogs"

By adjusting the timeframe filter, you can get a bitter picture of what people are searching for more recently. As the following image shows, not much has changed except the top search phrase on the right. People want to know what the best blogs of 2011 were. Maybe you could write a blog post on that instead of the more generic idea of “best blogs.”

Refining the keyphrase

Let me give one final example.

Let’s say you are launching a blog about men’s health. Naturally, you want lots of visitors as soon as possible. So what sorts of posts would be best to start with? Let Google Insights for Search tell you. You would begin by leaving the keyword search field blank, and then change the filters to reflect a recent timeframe and the “Men’s Health” category.

Google Insights on "Men's health"

By doing this, you discover the most popular and upward trending search phrases on Google.

Google Insights search results

Men's Health top search results

It would appear that if you were launching a blog post on men’s health, you would be wise to do a series on vasectomies, androgen insensitivity, circumcision, and uncircumcision.

Hmm, I wonder why those search terms are popular? I’ll let you research that on your own … but not on your work computer—your boss may not understand!

Using Google Insights for Search to help select better keyword phrases will not automatically rocket your website to the top of Google Search results, but such a practice will help you write more targeted and focused articles, which over time will provide you with more readers.

Have you used Google Insights for Search yet? Share your experience in the comments below.

Jeremy Myers writes at www.tillhecomes.org. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Comments
  1. SEO means sacrificing art.

  2. Good post. Some basic concepts that most don’t think of. Thx for the post.

    • I was about to say the same thing :). So many beginners target short highly searched keyord phrases.

      Example: You target “internet marketing”. You would need about 10,000 backlinks (high quality) to get on the first page of Google. Where as if you would target “free internet marketing tips” you would only need few 100s of backlinks to get ranked #1 for loads of long-tail keywords.
      So you would get a lot more traffic, which will generate clicks in AdSense and Sales in affiliates.

      P.S. Great Post!

      • I couldn’t have said it better myself. Nice job Akos.
        Longtail keywords, although unpopular, can have you rank within days.
        Important to start off with keywords you can compete for and build on that success.
        Also, BUYERS often search with longtail keywords!

        thanks for the post.

    • Thanks.

      I wrote a follow-up post today showing how this practice caused my visits to double last week:

      http://www.tillhecomes.org/guest-post-problogger/

  3. Gem of an article. I was searching for an article related to this. And I am cent percent satisfied..

    thanks :D

  4. Great tips, although there are still some single keywords that people do search. Typically you will get the best results if you optimize for more specific phrases though, and there is much less competition that way as well.

  5. This is a great little tool. Never heard of Insight till now. Actually fun to play with when thinking of the next comics that I make because of my niche market. Great “insight” from the author!

  6. This is still a long tail world when it comes to ranking..my Google stats shows that everyday when people search for my content through Google..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Definitely long tail world. This practice will probably benefit small to medium size blogs better than the monster blogs since the small blogs depend more on the long tail than do the large blogs.

    • @TrafficColeman – Great point about looking at your stats to see which keywords you’re getting traffic from.

      Then using Google Insights to select similar keywords to expand the topic or develop a series as Jeremy mentions.

      @Jeremy – Excellent article! I use Google Insights quite a lot. It is especially helpful when I can’t seem to find the ‘right’ keyword phrase. My favorite part of the tool is the trend graph.

      Question: In the “Search Term” section I sometimes find that the terms in the “Rising Searches” have extremely low trends compared to keywords in the “Search Terms” column. If they are “rising” then would those keywords be trending very well?

      I realize that the issues to the trend difference maybe because the “Search Terms” keywords might have a huge search occurrence, but any other thoughts on this would be appreciated.

      Thank you – Theresa

      • Theresa,
        Great question. I actually do not trust the “rising searches” as much as the “search terms” column. Why? Because the “rising searches” are based on percentages which can be skewed. Let’s say a search phrase is used one time, and the next day, it is used three times. Well, it just “rose” 300%!!! But over the course of two days, four searches is not very much.

        This is just an example, but I take those “rising searches” with a grain of salt. Hope that helps.

  7. This a great and useful lesson, I will try Google Insights.

  8. I’ve never used Google Insights before, however, I see the benefit. I normally use the Google AdWords tool to do my keyword searches for SEO.

    Thank you for the information about this tool!

    WW

  9. Good post, totally agree people look and look again ams tune the search always, is more specific at the end the most important is to make branding and content

  10. This is also my first time to hear about Google Insights for Search. Will definitely try it. Very informative post especially for me who is not yet experienced in blogging and SEO.

  11. New tool for me too, thanks!

    • Hope it helps. The tool takes some getting used to, and doesn’t always work for smaller categories, but I have found it to be helpful.

  12. Great post – some useful tools – thanks for sharing.

    Rob

  13. I would add a bit to this, including searching for both the plural and singular term and also inverting keywords where possible e.g. “Hotel Manchester” and “Manchester Hotel”.

    The majority of my time researching is actually spent away from Google’s core tools — I always check out the latest listings on Flippa (sellers post lots of Analytics data on there) and use SEM Rush (great way to see which terms your main competitors are ranking for).

    Internal Site Search in Analytics is also BRILLIANT for finding relevant terms and also patterns that you can potentially integrate into your copy or even gaps in your copy — well worth setting up if you haven’t done so already, it has so many applications.

    And yeah, I tend to go for longer-tail terms when it comes to setting up a new presence and then aim at more generic two word terms in the long run.

    • I need to use that Internal Site Search in Analytics again. Last time I used it, it wasn’t so helpful for me, but as I have been focusing more on writing with SEO keywords in mind, maybe I will get different results now. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. Thanks for the information.I wasn’t familiar with Google Insights,but after reading through your post I did a quick search for the trending key phrases and found the fired ones and put some on my latest post. I hope it’ll bring more SE traffic to my blog-as you said.

  15. Tks for the article.

    I discovered these points only after 5months into blogging. Infact I was surprised looking at the phrases the visitors used to get to my blog. It’s as though they were asking questions!

    I blogged Phonics English tutorial in my native mother tongue, and came across search queries such as “what are words with different spelling but having same sound”.

    Tks for sharing.
    Cheers

    • This is exactly how I stumbled across this tool also. I saw how people were finding my blog using keyword phrases, and many of them were questions, and then it made me start thinking about how I search in Google and how I have found many of the helpful sites and blogs I read.

  16. I still refuse to write content based around keywords and keyword phrases. I write the content, then add keyword phrases. Maybe this is dumb. Time will, no doubt, tell. LOL.

    • yes, posts should ever sound artificial or keyword “stuffed.” People can tell when you are doing this, and most will not stick around.

      If, however, you have an affiliate marketing blog, there is almost no other way to write posts.

  17. Jeremy, congrats on your guest post here on Problogger! This was an extremely helpful post. I’ll be reviewing my tags on both my blog posts and my online shop listings using your tips. Thanks!

  18. Nicely constructed article however in your first paragraph you mention ‘meta keywords section’.

    If by this you’re referring to the meta keyword ‘tag’, i.e. then it’s not very useful as Google stopped indexing the meta keywords tag several years ago and therefore populating it with all the useful phrases you’ve researched will be a fruitless exercise.

    The optimal placement for your keyword phrases as you’ve described in this article are the tag which is usually the blog post title and the meta description tag () which can be set manually or if you don’t set it manually then it will default to your first 155 characters of your article.

    • You’re right. I wasn’t so clear.

      I focus on putting these keyword phrases in:

      1. In the Post Title
      2. Meta Description
      3. Frequently in the content

  19. Great post, recently started blogging so this is a great way to learn.

  20. New tips for me, I will try it. Thanks for the info.

  21. Google Insights for search looks sick! I’ve never seen that before.

    • Yeah, it’s like finally getting that table saw when you’ve been using a handheld saw for years. It’s a great tool to use.

  22. Fantastic post. Good keyword research should be the first step in any SEO campaign.

    However, as you’ve also probably noticed… many companies are unware of how to find the right keywords and end up paying through the nose for keywords that don’t give a solid return on investment.

    Education is the key here.

    Let’s take an example of local SEO.. for example, targeting a search phrase for your local town, which many businesses are doing, might seem like a good idea – and it is – but only if the keywords are WORTH something.

    If nobody’s searching for the keywords, there’s no return on investment.

    Of course most at Problogger will already be aware of this, and it’s up to us to educate our customers.

  23. Jeremy,

    Really appreciate your reasoning here about why the “long tail” should dominate your keyword research strategy. In addition to Google Insights, I also enjoy using Google’s External Keyword Tool. It’s basic, but still super useful at the beginning of your process.

    Not to be self-promotional but I also recommend SEOmoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Chapter 6, Keyword Research. (I won’t link to it, but it’s easy to find on Google)

    And to Raul, I respectfully disagree about SEO meaning sacrificing art. Indeed, SEO is a great way to get your art showcased – like putting in an art gallery. Just my two cents. :)

  24. Picking key SEO keywords is crucial.

  25. This post is a real game changer for me. I knew about keyword research but trends are a whole new world for me. Thanks for the info. Great post!

    • Yes. Trends are great for SEO. I doubled my blog traffic last week by using upward trending SEO keywords from Google Insights for Search. I made a blog post about this on my own blog today as a follow-up to this post on ProBlogger.

  26. Jeremy, thanks for sharing! This is definitely a must-read (must bookmark for me…) if interested to work with SEO. It is great how you engage in the discussion to your own article. I’d love to see that more often!

    Very well done!

    – Philipp

  27. I had only briefly looked at Google Insights and never really played at the features before. Just playing around with it gives some useful information for future posts.
    I’m diggin it!
    -Sam

    • Playing around with the options definitely helps generate blog post ideas. I use it for that all the time. Thanks for the comment!

  28. Useful article. I knew Google insights existed but never thought it would bring me more than the google keyword search tool could do.From now on I will use it for my coaching blogs.

  29. Every time I find a good Google tool, there ends up being another Google tool that’s even better; I’ve been religiously using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool for the last few weeks. This seems way, way better. Thank you for sharing!

    • Yes, I love Google! They keep coming out with more tools.

    • I know how you feel. It’s so hard to find a suitable SEO tool when every other day a new one with new features and new benefits comes around. And yes Google does have some good “free” software.

  30. Seems like google insights can bring me more visitors from search engines other than what i use Adwords noe… will give a try…
    Thanks for sharing………..

  31. is difficult to find the words “key, the key” in this search for Google Insights for Search, I want to know if you can change the key words or just add to the list of keywords that you already have?

  32. I sometimes search single word on google, but that is true that is not efficiency. Typing more words on the search engine will make our serach more accurate.

  33. Right. And writing your posts with search engine users in mind will help generate more traffic to your blog.

  34. Good info.

  35. Great tips… when I started I didn’t know about the “keyword phrases” thing so I was still using single keywords. Oops.

  36. Great tips for SEO … I love your stuff. Keep up the good work!
    Especially true about NOBODY searching for one keyword!

    – Paul Cline

    http:/www.businessdoneforyou.com

  37. This is a great tool. I have been beating my head looking for more targeted keywords in some tough niches. This tool is not a guarantee but will definitely help out. Thanks for sharing Jeremy.

    Steve

  38. It’s a nice detailed post on picking keywords, but I’m not convinced you need to do any of this when writing a blog post. I don’t know about everyone else but getting tangled in keywords is the last thing I want to do. Writing interesting post is what I want to do, not what Google “tells” me.

    Case in point, ProBlogger. Scanning the post headlines you will not see many “searchable” keywords, instead you will see compelling headlines of interesting posts.

    So while SEO is all nice, I don’t think it is to be used as basis for your blog content.

    • Yes, don’t ruin your content by trying to make it conform to Google Keywords.

      ProBlogger is not really relying on the long tail any more. They’re more like the head.

  39. This actually makes a lot of sense to me. Since I started blogging (not too long ago), I’ve read so much about SEO, but I don’t think I understood until now. This was my “Aha moment,” I guess.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m going to put it to use on my blog right away.

  40. That Google insight page is extremely helpful. This is going to help quite a bit. Thank you.

  41. This will help a lot! I will definitely be using google insights to see what I should be shooting for. I too was going after single word keywords mostly so I will be changing this up. Thanks for the Blog.

  42. Very helpful, and your blog has clearly generated a lot of interest. I guess you could also use it in reverse? That is, use it to not only find out what key words might result in a higher rate of hits on a topic you want to blog about, but also use it to research topics that people are searching for that may provide an idea for a blog.

    • Absolutely. I have hundreds of blog post drafts, but if I need some ideas, and am facing writer’s blog, I turn to Google Insights for Search to help get the creative juices flowing. It has given me several good blog post ideas.

  43. I think Google needs to rearrange their system. The reason I say this is because there are some SEO wizards out there who are able to trick the system somehow and push there junk websites to the front of the pack every single time. I’m convinced they are cheating the system because some of the websites on the first page of Google look like they belong on page 720,000,000. Haha.

    I have a question. If I pay Google a couple thousand to get on page 1, how Important would SEO be then?

    • You can’t be on first page by paying Google. The only way is SEO. If you meant you want to buy ads then you are competing with other advertisers and you might get on the top of the page (above search results).

    • I think Google is constantly looking at this which is why they tweak their search algorithm from time to time. But they will never bash people for buying ads since that is a key component of their business model. So we’re stuck with lousy sites with lots of cash.

  44. Multiple word keywords are better for search engines than single words. Forget that sometimes though.

  45. As far as I understand, you use Google Insights to determine your keywords. I am afraid this is not the right way to generate traffic. So what about local monthly volumes in Google Keyword Tool? What about competitor analysis?
    Also? I can see you are contradicting yourself in two points: you said it is better to focus on long tail keywords, then you use Google Insights to come up with circumcision and uncircumcision. Are these long tail keywords?
    The second point is that you said that one can get more traffic with long tail keywords. Can you prove that? I can prove the contrary. Just a quick look on Google Keyword tool for internet marketing as suggested by a comentator and internet marketing tips/tutorials/services and you will see a huge difference

  46. I’ve found targeting 3-word keyphrases is best to target. Especially for a new site starting out. I think they are quite common among searchers. I don’t think people expect to get as detailed results as they are wanting with just one or two words.

  47. Now here’s a post with immense pep and purpose. I had seen and basically used Google Insights but neveer knew about leaving it blank and selecting a field so that it shows you what the world is surfing and searcghing for. That little bit of kit is worth it’s weight in gold alone. Just goes to show that there’s always something new to learn when you take the time and effort to do so. In short, keep open and keep looking. Top notch post with top info!

  48. I still have a hard time believing that this blog/site is free sometimes, lol. Absolutely INVALUABLE information, here.

  49. Awesome post. I guess I need to learn how to optimize for Google, but, would it also work for other search engines?

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