How to Use an SEO Keyword Tool to Boost Your Blog Traffic

How many of you go from draft to published post without ever thinking about keywords? C’mon, don’t be shy. I know you’re out there because I used to be one of you.

But then I learned I was leaving traffic on the table thanks to myopic thinking…

Keyword research isn’t something dirty. It doesn’t cheapen your writing by making it “targeted towards robots.”

Instead, it’s a necessary part of ensuring that your writing gets seen by as many people as possible.

And in this post, I’m gonna show you the why and the how of using an SEO keyword tool to get more traffic to your blog posts.

Why You Need an SEO Keyword Tool

When I first got the idea for this post, I was going to target something like “keyword research for blog posts”. That seems like a good idea, right?

The keyword intent of people searching for that phrase likely matches the topic of my post. The keyword is descriptive. It definitely seems like something a human would type. All good so far…

But there’s one problem, which I discovered because I actually decided to validate whether or not my assumptions were correct.

To perform that validation, I turned to my favorite keyword research tool, KWFinder. And much to my dismay, KWFinder dropped this unfortunate truth bomb on me:

SEO keyword tool

20 searches a month?!??? You’ve gotta be kidding me!

With an average CTR of about 30% for the first position in Google, that means I can expect…~6 visits per month for my exact match keyword. And that’s if I can rank in the top position…which I probably can’t because of that scary looking difficulty score.

That’s why, after wondering why more people weren’t searching for such an important topic, I made the decision to target “SEO Keyword Tool”.

And while I’m definitely not expecting to rank in the top position, at least 1,600 searches per month is a much bigger potential pie.

You Have to Care About the Robots a Little

Look, I know that you probably want to just write for humans. And I’m with you. I think it’s a horrible idea to cram your posts with keywords just to please the search bots.

But you still need to toss the robots some scraps. And doing basic keyword research for your blog posts is the best way to do that.

All I’m saying is to plug in your main keyword to something like KWFinder and try to find the best phrase possible to use in your titles and headings. It’s not going to turn your blog posts into keyword-stuffed garbage, and it’s not going to take up a lot of time.

What it will do is give you a chance to get more traffic to your blog posts.

How to Conduct Keyword Research for a Blog Post

Keyword research for a blog post is easy, at least how I recommend it. Sure, great keyword definitely takes more time. But you can’t do great keyword research for every single blog post you write. What you do need to do is make sure you always grab the low hanging fruit.

Here’s my exact process:

Step 1: Brainstorm Potential Keywords

Don’t worry about validating your data yet. In this stage, just brainstorm some of the potential phrases that you think real people would search for to find your post. Jot down the top 3 or 4.

For this post, that list could look something like this:

  • Keyword research blogging
  • Keyword research blog posts
  • Keyword research for bloggers

Step 2: Plug Those Assumptions into Your SEO Keyword Tool

Now’s where you get to marvel in awe at how other people think. You’re going to plug your keyword list into an SEO keyword tool to see if the phrases you brainstormed are actually what the world at large is searching for.

Previously, I used the AdWords Keyword Planner to do this. But then they made their results look like this:

seo-keyword-tool-2

10,000 to 100,000 searches? Really? Thanks Google, that’s helpful!

So now, I use my new love, KWFinder. It gives you the real search volume, not a range. The free version even lets you conduct up to three searches per day (after that, you’ll need to pay for a premium plan).

Just plug in your keywords and click the Analyze button:

seo-keyword-tool-3

Step 3: Pick an Alternative Keyword If Necessary

When you’re looking at KWFinder’s analysis, you need to check two things.

First, you want to make sure your phrase gets a decent volume. That’s this first column:

seo-keyword-tool-4

I generally like to shoot for keywords that get at least 750+ searches per month.

Next, you want to consider the difficulty of the keyword. That’s this other column:

seo-keyword-tool-5

If you’re using KWFinder, you normally want to find keywords with a green difficulty rating so you’re not smashing yourself against a brick SEO wall.

As you can see, the SEO keyword tool area is pretty competitive, so there weren’t any green terms to choose from.

Step 4: Use That Target Keyword in Your Blog Post Title

Once you’ve picked a keyword that both has a decent search volume and isn’t too difficult, you’re set to jet. Just make sure to use the keyword in your blog post title and ideally a subheading or two.

You’re still writing for humans, but now you’re maximizing your returns from Google, too!

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How Blog Posts Are Made (or, one man’s writing process)

Well dear reader…when one blog loves another blog very much, they sometimes…

Ok, I’ll spare you the goriest of details, but I do want to talk about how blog posts come to publication.

As much I’d like to sit down, type for an hour, and hit publish; reality is not so kind. Creating a quality blog post takes some time and planning.

This ain’t sausage, though, so let’s dig in and learn exactly how blog posts are made.

1. Conception

Ideas come from a variety of places. I’m not sure anyone wants to know where one of my most productive locations is, but, suffice it to say, ideas abound.

Kristi Hines has done a far better job than I could at rounding up places to go for inspiration, so I’ll just direct you there if you need help with this stage.

Some of my favorites are my Feedly feed, popurls, and good old fashioned Googling.

Every time you solve a problem for yourself? That’s a potential blog post. If you had the problem, chances are someone else does too.

Once inspiration hits, it goes straight into an Evernote notebook.

Evernote

Evernote allows you to work from both your desktop and phone. The mobile app is essential, as rarely do I get my best ideas when sitting in front of a computer screen.

In Evernote, I jot down a few of my initial ideas. If I thought of a killer intro that I don’t want to forget, that gets added too.

The screenshot shows I was pretty proud of my baby and sausage references.

After the initial ideas are categorized and saved, I let them percolate for a little bit.

2. Brainstorming & Mapping

Next, it’s time to brainstorm the content and map it out. My favorite mapping software is Mindmeister, but I know some other options exist.

Mindmeist

For a listicle, this is pretty easy. Each bullet point is its own “branch”. Evidence and ideas get further branched off.

For other article types (those exist?), you can use whatever structure fits best.

Mapping is essential so you don’t get lost in the middle of a blog post. You don’t want to be this guy, do you?

lost-at-sea

I’m sure there are some superheroes who can spit out text in perfect logical order, but for the rest of us, mapping lays the groundwork for a successful post.

3. Writing

Well, it took a bit, but we’ve finally reached the point where we put pen to paper. Sorry–fingers to keys.

I like to write in Google Docs because it’s available everywhere. I own multiple computers, so being able to access all my files from wherever I am is great. It also allows for some mobile editing if I’m stuck waiting in line at the grocery store (side note–you always wait in line at the grocery store in Vietnam).

If you did your mapping well, the writing should flow. If not, well, we’ve all been there. Watch some TV, give your mind a break, and get back to work.

Once I’m done, it’s time to publish…

SIC! No! I never publish right away. Who do I look like–Leroy Jenkins?!

4. Editing

Rather than publishing right away, I put the piece aside until the next morning. When I wake up, I give it another read over, cringe at some phrases, and make the necessary edits.

After that, it gets a good run through Grammarly. Grammarly is a nifty little web app that corrects most of your grammatical mistakes. If you’re like me and enjoy comma splicing like a boss, this is pretty essential.

Grammarly

Once captain Grammarly has had his say, I give it one more read over before plugging it into WordPress. Some quick formatting and we’re almost ready. Just one more thing…

5. Pictures

On average, articles with relevant pictures get 94% more views than those without.

It’s worth it to take some time to add pictures, unless you hate people reading your writing. I like people reading my writing, so I always try to add pictures.

You can find free and legally sourced pictures on Pixabay, and then edit them with Canva. Web apps have made design semi-possible for even the most design illiterate among us (i.e. me). If I can edit a picture with Canva, you be can damn sure that you can too.

If you want to go the .gif route (see below), then Giphy is a great option. It lets you search by hashtag so you can quickly and easily find that perfect .gif.

6. TIME TO POST!

time-to-post

Once I add the pictures, it’s time to post. I hit the “Publish” button on WordPress, sit back, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment.

The sense of accomplishment lasts until a week later when I find a horrible typo in my post and wonder how many people noticed. Ah well…such is life.

Does my process mimic yours? Do you have any suggestions where I could improve? Let me know in the comments!

WordPress Starter Kit: 5 Essential Plugins

At this very moment, more than 20% of the world’s most popular websites are powered by WordPress. That’s a lot of sites.

They aren’t all blogs. That may have been the case ten years ago, but now WordPress powers blogs, landing pages, content sites, and more. Flexibility and massive theme/plugin databases are what make WordPress so popular.

With great power comes great responsibility. It’s easy to get plugin happy, install somewhere between ten and ten thousand plugins, and bog down your site in unnecessary code.

If only there were a way to cut through the jungle and find your El Dorado of WordPress plugin gold. Enter the WordPress Starter Kit…

The WordPress Starter Kit is five essential plugins that every WordPress site needs. It doesn’t matter if your site is a blog, a portfolio, or a store selling full-sized replica Ewoks. You should install these 5 plugins:

1. All-in-one-SEO (or Yoast) – Download

I know, I’m supposed to just say “Yoast”. You’re certainly not going to go wrong if you install Yoast, but I always preferred All-in-one-SEO.

It has all the features you need and none that you don’t, whereas Yoast’s UI feels bloated and inefficient at times. While All-in-one-SEO might not be as immediately comprehensive, its simple interface is easier to work with.

Bottom line–you need an SEO plugin. Pick Yoast or All-in-one-SEO, install it and go through the configuration. You need to get your SEO on-point.

2. W3 Total CacheDownload

Page speed is incredibly important. Google now uses page speed as a ranking signal and page speed also affects how your visitors interact with your website. You wouldn’t drag race with a Smart Car, so why put your website at a disadvantage in the page speed race?

You can’t afford to ignore page speed.

W3 Total Cache utilizes caching best practices to speed up your website. It’s easy to set up and meets all of Google’s PageSpeed recommendations.

Don’t worry if terms like “browser caching” give you a headache–W3 Total Cache will do everything for you.

Bonus–caching will also reduce the load on your web server in cases of unexpected traffic.

3. UpdraftPlusDownload

Imagine spending hundreds of hours building your WordPress site and content only to have it all destroyed in an instant.

That. Would. Suck.

UpdraftPlus gives you peace of mind by automatically backing up your site. I set mine to automatically back up my site to my Google Drive account every day. They offer a variety of other integrations like Dropbox, email and more.

Now a catastrophic failure will never wipe out your hard work.

UpdraftPlus also allows you to easily restore your site from a backup in case any issues occur.

4. WP-OptimizeDownload

WordPress still has some frustrating inefficiencies. For instance, every time you revise a post, WordPress creates a new entry in your database.

WP-Optimize removes these inefficiencies so you never have to think about database entries again.

If you think database tables are the kind with four legs, this plugin is for you.

5. WP-SmushDownload

Unless you’re optimizing your images before uploading them, they’re probably not as efficient as they could be. WP-Smush strips extraneous information from your images to decrease file size without losing quality.

This means faster page loads and less server load. All with the same quality images.

WP-Smush doesn’t require any work from you–every time you upload a new image WP-Smush will automatically reduce the size for you.

Conclusion

These five plugins aren’t the end of your journey, but they will give your WordPress site the right foundation.

Feel free to customize with additional plugins, but always remember to weigh the benefits of each plugin with the clutter and site inefficiencies some plugins add.

Did I miss an essential plugin? Have a recommendation for a great security plugin I should add to the list? Nobody’s perfect! Let me know in the comments.

1

Facebook Segmentation for Happier, More Engaged Friends

We all know the importance of email segmentation (hopefully). I want to discuss another use of segmentation.

A much more important use of segmentation. The kind of segmentation that will make you and everyone around you happier, more fulfilled, and less stressed.

That’s a value proposition that’s hard to refuse.

So what is it?

Facebook segmentation.

No, not Facebook ads. Just target all 1.5 billion users. It doesn’t matter (sic).

I’m talking about segmenting your friends. Segmenting your work colleagues. Segmenting your family.

Does your boss need to see those pictures of you drunk at the bar? Does your Luddite friend want to see all your tech startup postings? (better question–why is your Luddite friend a Facebook user?)

I took some time to create an illustration demonstrating this phenomenon:
facebook-2

With such conclusive proof as a half-baked Venn diagram, it should be clear why this is such a necessary tactic. But if you need more convincing, check out this study from Mailchimp: Continue reading

1

How Grammar and Spelling Affect Website Credibility (and Sales)

Lets bee honest, their are some things that just don’t promote confidence in your company. Little things, like to many spelling and grammar mistakes, can kill you’re credibility.

Would you want to pay money too a site wear they can’t get the little things write? Maybe if the product is that good, but if your on the fence, little mistakes can make the difference between closing the sail, and coming up empty handed.

If the preceding paragraphs didn’t create a dull ache at your temples, this post might not be for you. If they did, grab some ibuprofen and let’s continue.

We’ll start by ignoring one man’s grammatical rants and delving into what little “hard” data exist.

Unfortunately, not many people set out to A/B test poor spelling, but let’s see what we can find:

1. Despite some, well, “lackluster” societal standards for grammar on social media, Disruptive Communications surveyed 1,003 UK consumers about the factors that would be most likely to damage a consumer’s view of a brand. The number one response (by far), from 42.5% of respondents, was “poor spelling or grammar.”

2. Global Lingo surveyed 1,029 people and found that 59% “would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing material”. 74% answered yes when asked “whether or not they tended to notice the quality of spelling or grammar on a company’s website.” Unless that 15% is your target demographic, you might want to start editing.

3. Websites with well-written product reviews have higher sales than websites with reviews containing poor grammar and spelling. Panos Ipeirotis, a professor at NYU, found that the demand for a hotel on Tripadvisor increased if the hotel had reviews free of spelling and grammar mistakes.

He observed a similar effect with sales at Amazon. Further, future Amazon acquiree Zappos found out as early as April 2009 that hiring MTurk workers to fix spelling errors in their customer reviews led to a “substantial” increase in revenue.

4. A UK tights retailer claims that fixing a single, prominent spelling mistake on their main product page increased conversions by 80% (though I’m certainly not going to sit here and tell you that editing your website will increase your conversion rate by 80%).

5. Clemson University studied the relationship between perceived author credibility and spelling and grammar mistakes. Though not specific to websites, they found that “the results of this study suggest that a text of better quality will elicit greater degrees of perceived author credibility from the readers of the text.”

6. Finally, with regards to SEO, Matt Cutts noted in 2011 that good spelling and grammar correlated with higher ranking websites. This is not to say it’s a direct ranking factor, but it’s not hard to believe that better written content is more likely to be shared and linked. Though blog posts can have laxer standards, content marketing without editing still seems like a huge leak.

I know–surveying 1,000 people isn’t irrefutable proof. But here’s the thing–it doesn’t need to be 50% of your visitors who are affected by poor grammar and spelling. It doesn’t even need to be 20%. If 10%, 5%, even 2% of your potential customers are negatively affected–that’s a huge hole that needs fixed.

Here’s why I think spelling and grammar are important:

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes negatively influence your credibility. This might not matter if your product is so mind-blowingly amazing that I just have to have it. But if I’m on the edge, those niggling mistakes are going to make me wonder: “if they can’t even proofread their product pages, why should I trust them with my data?
  • It’s easy to fix. Editing, or hiring an editor, is one of the easiest things you can do. On a budget? Then just try harder. Read it out loud. Read it backwards. Ask your friend to read it. Ask your mom to read it. Don’t make your customers read it.

In the end, it comes down to three little questions:

Do spelling mistakes and poor grammar increase conversions? NO

Will eliminating spelling mistakes and poor grammar increase conversions? Somewhere between “MAYBE” and “PROBABLY”

Is it expensive or time-consuming to use proper spelling and grammar? NO

Unless you have the rare customer who desires, nay NEEDS, mistake-ridden content, this seems like a no-brainer to me…but who knows, maybe mistakes make people want to by your products.

P.S. 5 public floggings for Colin for each spelling or grammar mistake you point out*.

*excluding the first two paragraphs