The one thing that inexperienced bloggers tend to forget is how people are going to find their blog. If they are just doing a blog for family to watch, then it may not matter, but if you want to attract readers to your blog, then you have to follow the same basic rules of marketing as anyone who is running a high pressure sales site. Both require following certain rules. The name of the game is traffic, something that both will need, whether selling something or not.
Some of the most important rules are created by the search engines, like Google, Bing, Ask, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and many, many others. No matter how good your site looks to readers, if you don’t make the search engines happy, they won’t match your site to the keywords that people type into the search forms on those sites.
How do you know what people are going to look for? The answer lies in certain software that marketers all know about, but few others do… especially if they have never blogged or had a web site before. This software can tell you how many times a month certain words are searched for, and that is the main thing you need to know. Some software can also tell you many other things, including related words and how many times they are searched. In general, the better the software (cost-wise) the more information you can find out.
There are many professional-grade pieces of software, most created by professional marketers, as they are the only ones who know what a marketer needs. Still each one may have their own idea about what they need. But even a beginner can learn how to find out what words people use to perform searches, and do the research for free.
Google, being the largest and most popular search engine on the planet, had created a free research tool available to the public. Originally it was created for their Adwords paid search listing program, but anyone could use it. That is no longer available without signing up for an Adwords account, but social bloggers probably won’t have a need for that if they don’t plan to do any advertising or selling. Still, you have to know what keywords people search for.
I did a simple Google search for “free keyword tool” and found several sources listed below. Some of these may overlap, but look through them and try out each one.
Keep in mind, any effort on the web is rewarded by the amount of time you put into it, and even blogging requires a certain amount of research before you even start. If you fail to learn your job, you will always appear to be an amateur at it, and will never get the results you wish for.
To help you decide which of these free online tools to use, always check reviews by Googling the name of the tool with the word “review”, and find out what others say about it. To find out more about each one, always watch any tutorials associated with it, and also search for the name of the tool on YouTube and look for tutorial videos on how to use it.
Pamorama has a list of five free and five paid keyword tools.
If you look on down through the search results, you will see many other free keyword tools. We use another professional-grade tool, MicroNicheFinder, that costs around $100, but as always, you get what you pay for. Beginner’s or casual bloggers won’t need as much detail as a professional tool provides.
Knowing how the search engines match sites to searches is the first thing to learn. They have a very common sense way of doing that, starting at “the top” and working down.
The first thing they look at is the URL of the site. Does it contain the same exact words that people are searching for? Being able to use the exact words people would search for in your topic is helpful, but if you can’t figure out a way to use the keywords in the URL, there are ways to compensate.
The title of the site is the second thing the search engines look at. Your site title can be different than your URL. If you aren’t able to find a URL with your ideal search terms in it, then you should definitely try to work words that relate to your topic into the title of the site.
Your tag line, or sub-title, is the next thing the search engines will look at. Some people also refer to it is the “slogan”, although I have seen sites with a sub-title AND a slogan. However you use it, you should definitely work your search terms (keywords) into the highest points of your site as you can, especially if you couldn’t work them into the URL.
Post and page titles are the next item the search engines will look in, to see if it can find matching keywords there. Blogs will automatically attribute certain “H tags” to certain areas of your post or page, but you can use the dashboard to over-ride their decisions. For beginner’s, an H-1 tag is always a header…larger font in bold type, to really stand out. Next is the H-2 tag, normally used for sub-headers, slightly smaller font than the main header, but still bold. The H-3 tag is normally used as a paragraph header… one more step down in size, but still bold. They continue down in size and importance to H-4, and in some cases down to H-6, but the search engines only look as far as H-4 tags.
The next step in their search are the words in bold print, normally reserved for words that are very important. You should never have to choose a bold font for normal paragraphs, as it can cause the search engines to ignore the entire text, or cause it to think that “everything” is a keyword, in which case it can think it is being “spammed” with keywords (an illegal practice) and will actually demote your search listing! If the theme that you are using has too small or too light of a font for the paragraphs, then choose another theme. (We’ll talk more about readability in a later post.)
Once you learn how keyword tools work, the information might amaze you. Just the difference between using a plural word as opposed to a singular word can make a difference of tens of thousands of searches per month. Knowing a simple difference like that can “make or break” the success of getting readers to your site!
Now that you understand how and why keywords are important to your site getting found by the search engines, we also have to discuss two more things before you ever write your first post… and that is keyword density and relevance… both of which are also important to how the search engines will rank your site in the listings. These will be discussed in Part Two of our series, so stick around.