While you should be using tools like Twitter and Google Alerts to keep your pulse on the latest trends in your industry and creating up-to-date content around these trends, there’s also something to be said for creating “evergreen” content that people will always need.

What’s the best way to generate blog content that will stand the test of time and consistently bring you a stream of traffic month after month, year after year?  One effective method is to identify relevant keywords and topics that are frequently searched in Google.  The best way to get started is with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, also simply known as the Google Keyword Tool.â

 Google Keyword Tool (GKT):

Although the Google Keyword Tool is designed for Google’s Pay Per Click customers, it’s extremely useful for analyzing the organic search volume of a given keyword.  If you type in any word or phrase, it will return a list of up to 800 keyword ideas, along with their Global/Local monthly search volume, the average PPC cost per click, and the advertiser volume.

The GKT can be confusing at first, but if you start playing around with the tool, things will start to make sense and you’ll have the opportunity to unlock some valuable data.  Some important items to note when using the Google Keyword Tool:

Use “Exact Match”

There are 3 modes you can use when looking up keyword volume:

  • Broad Match – The broad match searches will give you a significantly inflated result.  Broad match takes into account all the traffic from keywords related to the keyword you entered.  While this can be useful for evaluating the size of niche, it’s nowhere near an accurate reflection of potential search engine traffic.
  • Phrase Match – This number is based on the searches where your keyword was mentioned as part of a larger search query.  For example, a phrase match search for “dog training” would be counted, but so would “dog training tricks”, “dog training tips” etc.  Like the broad match mode, this often gives a significantly inflated number over the type of search engine exposure you can expect to realistically generate.
  • Exact Match – This number is based on the searchers who typed in your exact keyword into Google over the past months.  Select this mode when estimating the search volume of your keyword term.

You’ll Likely Get Less Traffic Than Shown

Although the exact match search mode in the GKT can give you an idea of the search volume of any given keyword, that doesn’t mean that everyone who searches for the keyword will visit your site.  That will depend on a huge variety of factors – your search engine ranking, the number of PPC ads running etc.  Generally, the site listed in the #1 organic position will get approximately 36% of the clicks, the #2 position 12%, and the #3 position 9.5% of the clicks.

It’ll also depend on where you rank locally.  With Google’s push for localization, don’t be surprised if a high rank in one country doesn’t mean a high rank in another country.  If you want to know where you’re ranked for a keyword in multiple locations, you can use a tool like the one here at keywordsearchrankings.com.

On the other hand, as your blog starts to gather authority through backlinks and social media sharing, your blog posts will start to rank and gain traffic for long tail search terms that you weren’t even targeting.  This cumulative effect can take awhile to get going if you’re a new blogger, but established blogs will benefit tremendously.

Identifying Profitable Blog Post Ideas

Once you log into the Google Keyword Tool, go to the left menu and select “exact”, under Match Types. In the main box, under “Find keywords based on one or more of the following:”, and next to “Word or phrase”, type the word “dog training”. Click search.

So now that you have some background information, here’s an example of how you can use the Google Keyword Tool to locate profitable blog post ideas in your niche.

You’ll get a list of keyword ideas related to dog training, some which you’ll be able to use as the basis of your next blog post.  As you can see, the keyword “dog training” itself gets approximately 60,500 exact match searches every single month (at time of writing on Dec 3, 2012), and 33,100 local searches in the United States.  It has an approximate CPC of $1.98, and a high level of advertiser competition.  Even if you don’t have much experience doing keyword research, it should be obvious that this is a very popular keyword, and fairly profitable as well, with a decent number of advertisers in the niche.

A Quick Intro To Basic Competition Analysis

But wait right there; common sense should tell you that this keyword is also extremely competitive to rank for.  You can confirm this by looking at the sites in the top 10 positions in Google.  While in-depth keyword competition analysis is beyond the scope of this article, generally, you can get a rough idea of the level of competition by looking at a few key factors:

  • What’s the average PageRank for sites on the front page? What about the PageRank of the individual pages?  A top 10 search result with lots of PR0 and Pr1 pages usually indicates lower competition, while search results filled with PR4 usually indicates stiff competition.
  • Do they have the keyword in the title?  Search results where the top sites have high PR and the keyword in the title usually indicate a very competitive SERP.
  • How old are the domains on the front page?  Older domains usually have more authority and trust.  If you see multiple sites that are only 1-2 years old in the SERPs, this usually indicates weaker competition.
  • Do a search to see how many webpages have the keyword in the title using the search operator allintitle:.  E.g. allintitle: dog training.  As of Dec 3, 2012 there are 2,580,000 webpages with the keyword Dog Training in the title.  That’s a lot of pages targeting this particular keyword.

A good, free way to analyze competition for a keyword is to use a plugin like SEOquake.  This plugin works with both FireFox and Chrome, and lets you quickly retrieve the PageRank, number of pages indexed, the number of backlinks, and the age of a site when you’re looking through the search engine results.

If you’re looking for more in-depth analysis, there are other paid tools that can let you quickly analyze multiple search results or dig deeper into a site’s backlink profile, but a free plugin like SEOquake will give you a quick estimate of the level of difficulty you’ll face in ranking for a keyword.

Finding Longtail Keywords

But the point of this brief exercise wasn’t to show you that dog training is a competitive keyword.  You’ll notice that by typing in “dog training” into the GKT, you also get a list of 800 terms related to dog training.  By going through this list (you can use the available filters to make things easier), you’ll be able to identify both short tail terms and long tail keywords that can be the basis of profitable, evergreen blog posts.

Here’s a quick summary of how you can generate evergreen, high ROI blog post ideas using the Google Keyword Tool and basic competition analysis:

  • Search for keywords related to your niche in GKT
  • Go through the list of related key terms, noting the search volume, CPC and Competition
  • Use common sense: just because a keyword shows up in the GKT, doesn’t mean it should the basis of a blog post.  Know your audience.
  • Do a quick competition analysis
  • End up with a list of low-competition search terms with strong advertiser demand.

Don’t Forget: Search Engines Aren’t Your Only Source Of Traffic

While search engine rankings are an important component of building successful, profitable blog, don’t forget that its only one component.  If you have a new blog, it may take awhile to build the authority and trust required to rank in the top 3 search engine spots – even for less competitive keywords.

This doesn’t mean that the GKT and the strategies discussed above can’t be useful.  Remember, if people are searching for the keywords in Google and there are advertisers, this means that the topic is relevant to people in the niche and potentially profitable, whether they find your site through Google or otherwise.  Even if your competition analysis shows that you might have difficulty ranking for a keyword, don’t let that stop you from crafting compelling content around the keyword and using blogger outreach, guest posting, social media etc. to generate traffic to your blog post.


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