A 5-minute guide to Keyword Research: know your audience’s searches
You have a fabulous new idea for a blog post (or podcast or video) that you think your audience would loooooove.
And in addition to sharing it with your existing audience on social media and by email, you also want this content to help you get found by a new people, ideally people who are already searching for this topic on Google.
But how do you know what your audience is searching for?
Simple: Keyword research. You need to learn the phrases that they’re searching, so that you can be found for those words.
You’ll notice I said “simple,” not “easy.”
Because the concept is simple: Discover what people are already looking for, then write about that topic. (And include the phrase they’re looking for, so that Google understands that you’re answering their questions.)
But the process isn’t always easy, because you have to not only find a topic that people are curious about; you also have to figure out a phrase that is:
Relevant to what you want to sell
Popular enough that you’ll have an audience
Specific enough that you won’t have loads of competition
Here are 3 steps to get started with keyword research:
See what people are asking about your topic
The best way to answer people’s questions … is to go to the places where they’re asking them, and look for trends.
Recently I was working with my friend Lanie to help her figure out how people are talking about the productivity tool Airtable, to help her promote her new course Airtable Like a Boss.
(FYI that’s an affiliate link, because I freaking LOVE this course — it helped me to replace all my project management software and organize all my plans, and feel like I’m creating strategic plans, not just another endless to-do list.)
And while I was poking around the internet, here’s a question asked recently in one of my favorite private online communities, CoCommercial:
Not only is this an awesome question from the original poster, but the comments are also full of other people saying, “Yeah, I’ve heard about it but don’t know how to use it! Where do I start?”
If 1 or 2 people are asking a specific question, that means that at least 100x as many people are turning to Google with that same question … so Lanie can capture some of that energy by taking the answer she’d give those people and turn it into a blog post for everyone to read!
“But Meg,” I hear you wondering (because I’ve gotten so good at keyword research that it’s turned into mild telepathy), “how do I know what phrases people are actually searching for once they get to Google?”
Easy: use a keyword research tool.
Find the right keyword phrases
When it comes to finding the words that people are using to search Google, my favorite free keyword research tool is Ubersuggest. It gives a ton of keyword research data to you — for free! — in a user-friendly way.
When Lanie launched Airtable Like a Boss, she saw that a few of her students were using it to track everything they need to do to run their podcast efficiently (like organizing episode titles, tracking stages of production, saving guest headshots & bios, planning social content and promotion, ensuring sponsorship requirements, etc.).
So I started with some keyword research about “how to podcast”:
Whoa, 6,600 people every month are looking for “how to make podcast,” and another “4,400 searching for “how to create podcast”! That means we’re tapping into a topic that lots of people are consistently interested in.
And check out that column called “SD” — that’s SEO Difficulty, or how competitive that search term is — the lower the number, the easier it is to rank for that search term. There are some relatively “easy” search queries here, which means that this topic isn’t super-saturated and Lanie has a chance to be found amidst the noise of the internet for this topic.
However, these searches are mostly people looking for how to start and set-up a podcast, not about how to plan and organize the admin of podcasting. So I switched up my search term to search for “podcast plan”:
As I expected, there’s a huge drop-off in interest … because it’s way sexier to talk about starting a podcast than to plan for all the nitty-gritty admin work.
BUT! It’s still important for Lanie to write her article about using Airtable to organize podcast admin … because those 50-150 people who are searching for this topic every month? Those people are using a search term that shows that they’re much clearer about what they’re looking for. This means they’re waaaaaay more likely to click-through to a post that specifically answers their needs … and they’re also way more likely to buy a solution that solves their problem.
So what should Lanie do next?
Choose one primary keyword and 2-3 secondary keywords
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to choose ONE of those keywords as the exclusive point of entry to your blog post. If she writes a really fantastic post about “how to organize, track & plan your podcast admin,” she should also show up in searches for “podcast plan” and “podcast admin” and “podcast tracking.”
But in order to be super clear with Google about exactly what she’s talking about, she should choose ONE KEYWORD that is most important to your end goal — like “podcast plan template” — so that her writing has something to focus on … then she can sprinkle a few other keywords throughout your writing to make sure Google knows that they’re related. (“If you’re looking for a way to consistently plan your podcast without reinventing the wheel every time, you can use this free Airtable base as a podcast plan template.”)
Now that she knows what people are searching for and she’s got those keywords selected and prioritized, it’s time to get writing. Check out her final post (Tracking #Allthethings to Broadcast your Podcast Using Airtable), and if it sounds interesting to you, I highly, highly recommend her incredible Airtable Like a Boss course.
And if you want more keyword research advice, check out my free SEO Starter Kit: