Not long ago, I was a novice content writer struggling with the concept of keyword research.
Specifically, I was stressing over what I believed was a crucial ingredient to blogging success — identifying a specific, targeted keyword phrase.
I was both on the right track and completely adrift at the same time.
I misguidedly believed (based on outdated information on SEO best practices) that there was some right keyword choice out there I had to identify or else, which was an idea that created a lot of pressure.
I was frantically panning for gold in a river of information, terrified that I was failing to find the precious nugget more experienced writers were surely identifying with ease.
Keyword Research: Where I Was Wrong
In fact, I was focusing on all the wrong aspects of keyword research, worrying over minute details like keyword density and positioning in an effort to manufacture higher search rankings.
That approach was already antiquated, stressful, and ultimately ineffective — a waste of time and effort.
If choosing the best keyword for your blog post is causing you any amount of stress, it’s a good sign that you’re doing keyword research wrong, too.
I’d like to share with you a valuable gift that I found — a new approach that allows you to stop worrying over keywords.
Instead of chasing mythical advantages and fearing consequences, I’d like to show you the modern benefits that today’s keyword research actually offers you.
Jettison Keyword Density: Times Have Changed
SEO just ain’t what it used to be — you can find more information on changes in the SEO landscape here.
Many of the old best practices, tips, and tricks are no longer effective, and may even be working against you.
Whether based on keyword research or not, overuse of a particular keyword will penalize your rankings rather than boosting them.
With that in mind, throw the idea of keyword density right out the window.
First things first.
Stop worrying about any specific number of keyword usages — just let that whole idea go.
I Still Need to Choose a Keyword, Right?
Yes, but the basic purpose for selecting keywords has changed.
There’s a better rationale and actual benefits you can gain by doing keyword research unrelated to inflating a post’s search rankings.
Where we tried to make a pinpoint decision in the old days about a specific keyword, we now look for a more-encompassing topic umbrella.
We’re now looking for a key concept, not a specific keyword phrase.
Why You Don’t Need to Worry So Much: An Example
A recent project I was working on provides some clarity on this issue of selecting keywords.
Plugging a potential keyword, “call center trends,” into KWFinder, I came up with 3 similar results:
- Call center trends
- Call center technology trends
- Contact center trends
In the past, I would have agonized over this decision, trying to wrap my head around how the numerical subtleties associated with each keyword would affect my rankings.
Today, those tiny distinctions don’t matter as much.
Modern search engines are sophisticated. They recognize that these phrases have the same meaning.
Instead of considering each of these separately and trying to choose between them, I can now look at these similar keywords as a more complete, encompassing concept.
In effect, we get to choose them all.
I can actually choose one while receiving the benefit of all three.
By adopting these phrases as my key concept, I can use these words freely, interchangeably, and naturally throughout my post.
I’m making a decision about my topic, not which phrase I have to use verbatim.
Operating on that basis, very little stress is required.
What You DO Need to Worry About: User Intent
Instead of a particular phrase, I need to take into account the “user intent.”
What are people looking for when they type this keyword phrase (a similar phrase) into their browser?
What information or service does the audience running a search for this key concept need?
Any keyword is useless unless people searching for this topic actually find useful information within the content that satisfies a need or desire.
If they don’t find what they were looking for, they will “bounce,” clicking away quickly and never getting to know you and your brand.
Utilizing the SERPs — Where You Go When You Don’t Know
That’s where keyword research really comes in handy — gaining some useful insight about user intent (your audience’s needs) that will guide and direct your message.
How can I help them meet their needs?
What valuable assistance can I offer them?
That’s why I believe the information on the left hand side of the KWFinder window is now far less important to someone creating content than the information on the right, the SERP (search engine results page) rankings.
If a particular post is ranking high in the SERP window, located on the right-hand side of KWFinder, it’s getting significant traffic. This ranking indicates that people are finding value and authority in that content.
By doing some research on the posts listed in the SERPS, we can find out what ideas or opinions are already being tossed around.
That insight shows us where we can add value to the overall discussion by:
- Expanding on an existing idea opinion
- Agreeing with an existing idea or opinion
- Adding a “consider this argument” to a previously expressed idea or opinion
- Disagree or counter a current industry opinion
- Summarize current industry trends (which the SERP can help me identify)
- Speak from an angle that hasn’t been tried yet
- Present an original idea that hasn’t been presented yet
In short, we identify gaps in the discussion, then offer the audience new or increased value that fill those gaps.
Keyword Research Leads to Valuable Links
By doing the research I’ve just described and contributing something helpful and different for your audience, you also contribute to the industry discussion at large.
You link to other helpful items, and people will likely start linking to your content, too — a backlink.
A backlink is where another writer links to your content, possibly as source material or as a “for more information” option. It helps search engines like Google recognize that your content has value and authority.
This is one of the few concrete elements you can add to your content that will actually help your organic search rankings!
I just created a backlink to that writer’s content, which signals the search engines that it’s valuable.
I’ve given it a stamp of approval and aided its organic search results — just like that.
Boiling Down Keyword Research to Its Real Value
So, here’s a snapshot of how to get true value out of keyword research without stressing over it:
- Look for a key concept, not a verbatim keyword phrase
- Figure out what people are really looking for regarding that topic
- Think critically about how you can add value to the discussion at large
- Identify valuable content to link to, helping out other people writing on the topic in the process
The whole purpose of keyword research is getting your information in the hands of your actual target audience, the people who need what you’re offering, the people with whom you hope to form an ongoing relationship — your potential customers.
You now have permission to stop wasting time worrying about what doesn’t matter and start spending your valuable time on producing awesome content that does.
If you’d like to learn more about writing content that effectively generates the traffic you’re looking for, develops leads, establishes relationships, and drives conversions, you can find some great advice here.