Researching keywords for those of us who don’t research keywords

SEO has always been something I’ve, well, kind of ignored.

(If you’ve ignored it so much you don’t know what it means: Search Engine Optimisation. In other words: how to publish blog posts that Google will send lots of search traffic to!)

Deciding to think more about SEO and researching keywords

Over the years, I’ve heard that the way to rank well in searches is more and more linked to quality content and less and less linked to gaming the system, so I’ve told myself I can afford to more-or-less ignore SEO and researching keywords. In the past, it has struck me as kind of boring.

BUT of course, there are sensible times when it pays to give it a bit more attention. I saw Sharon Gourlay’s talk on SEO at the recent TBEX conference in Bangkok (Sharon blogs about this kind of stuff at Digital Nomad Wannabe) and decided that I really should have a look at it for some of my posts.

Researching keywords to get traffic to make money!

Sharon’s talk was very much focused on using good SEO for posts that were trying to drive traffic to affiliate links (links to stuff people might buy, and the blogger can get a commission from).  I have a few posts on my travel blog which (while providing great information and a good service to my community) are also focused on getting affiliate income, so I sat up and listened.

Because we are (trying to) raise our son bilingually, I have a series of posts on German books for babies, German books for toddlers, German books for preschoolers … you can see how this series can continue! These posts have a lot of affiliate links through to Amazon and over the past few months the income they generate, although small, has begun to steadily increase. Sharon’s talk made me think about how much more this could increase if I was just a bit more deliberate about getting targeted traffic to these posts.

So I’m going to experiment a little and let you watch. If it works well, then you can try it too!

Tweaking keyword use on existing posts

So, this is the first part of my SEO-fiddling! The reason I wrote these posts on German books for kids in the first place is that I had trouble finding good information online for non-native speakers like me, and had some real hit and miss experiences with buying books from the German Amazon site. I guess because they are filling a need (I’m definitely not the only non-German married to a German who wants to buy German books for their kids to read), then the posts have already been getting me a lot of search traffic for the main search terms I had in mind (which is basically the titles from above – “German books for babies” etc – as this is exactly what I searched for to find the information.)

I already knew this from looking at Google Analytics and see which search terms people used to find my site, including:

  • German baby books
  • baby books in German
  • German baby stories
  • German books for very young children
  • German toddler books

But after this SEO talk I had a look at where my posts where actually ranking in Google. The easy way to start this, of course, is just to go to Google:

German books for preschoolers Google result - keyword research
Results for “German books for preschoolers” on Google search

So even this simple search taught me a lot. My “German books for babies” post ranked number one for that term, and it also ranked in the top ten for “German books for preschoolers”. But my German books for preschoolers post (or my toddlers one, for that matter) didn’t rank at all, yet. When I cross-referenced that nugget of info against what was actually being bought at Amazon, I realised that it was all the baby books, too.

All this made me quite optimistic, because (1) if my German books for babies post could rank so highly, the others probably could too with a bit of help and time and (2) if they did, and I could get triple or more the traffic, then perhaps I could triple the income coming in too. It’s not heaps, but triple of a bit is a bit more, and it all adds up over time.

Off to work: tweaking my SEO

One thing Sharon had said which made a lot of sense was that using more than just one keyword – in fact more like twenty – would help you get more search traffic. I guess that’s especially true these days when more people are using longer (more natural) search terms.

German books for kids keywordsI soon got to work. I used LongTail Pro to generate more keywords but I think you could use Google’s Keyword Planner just as effectively. After disregarding any search terms it generated which weren’t grammatical or couldn’t be worked naturally into the text, I edited my old posts to include more of these keywords. I don’t want the posts to sound unnatural in any way, but since they are largely informational (lots of lists of books) with just short anecdotes (about my son and his books) joining it all together, I found it relatively easy to use quite a few more keyword phrases.

I also plan to follow the advice I often give my students and create a “hub” post around German books for kids (and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier), as the obvious “first” page to land on so that parents looking for German books for their children can easily see all the information at once before getting specific.

Testing out my keyword changes

And once all this is done, I need to wait a bit. (The patience part is not my favourite bit, but I’m told this is necessary – Google won’t notice what I do instantly!)

The image below is the current ranking (in the United States, since the majority of my traffic comes from there and it’s a bigger market) for my site for various search terms. I’ll come back to this in a few months and compare it again – let’s see if these SEO tweaks have helped out!

Rank check - researching keywords

Gobbledygook? Or making sense?

What do you know about SEO?

In my blogging courses, I usually teach students to do at least a bit of reverse-engineering – thinking about what search terms readers might type into Google if what they are looking for is answered by your blog post. It’s sometimes hard to think this way, but it is definitely worth it – you want people to find your posts, right?

Got SEO questions? I absolutely do not promise I can answer them … but I can try! Leave them in the comments or email me.

4 Replies to “Researching keywords for those of us who don’t research keywords”

  1. I just came across this – thanks for the mention!

    How did it go? Did you increase your traffic/earnings? Just wanted to also mention that using google itself can be misleading for rankings as it personalises your search results somewhat – so you are likely to see your own site closer to the top than what others do since they know you visit it a lot. This can be mitigated somewhat by using an incognito window but I find it more reliable to use LTP (which I see you did 🙂 ) or webmaster tools.

  2. You’re welcome, Sharon!
    And yes – it worked! I must check back and compare the rankings but the Amazon affiliate income on these pages has definitely increased. You’re the first person who could explain this in a way that made sense so thank you SO much!

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