SEO Keyword Research: How To Build a Blog Keyword List

Online Business, Start Your Blog

What are your blog's keywords?

What? You haven't chosen them yet?seo-keyword-research

Choosing your keywords are critical to helping establish your search engine ranking from day one. In this post, you'll learn how to sift through thousands of options and choose the best keywords for your blog. You'll also learn about the SEO tools that will help you in your search.

But first, what is a keyword?

What is a Keyword?

A keyword is a specific word or phrase that describes the contents of a page or even a complete site.

Basically, think about what a reader would search for to find your specific page.

Here are 15 free sources of targeted blog traffic.

3 Types of Keywords

Although it sounds like a single word, it is often a phrase of 2 or more words. The longer phrases are known as long tail keywords.

Here are two examples of broad, specific, and long tail keywords.

What does all this mean? Well, it's almost impossible to rank on a broad keyword. Words like “Ecuador” and “GoPro” are both high traffic and high competition. You'll need a solid authority site, with thousands of quality inbound links to be able to rank for these keywords. Broad keywords could be described as “vanity” keywords. A term like “Ecuador” is not profitable because it doesn't identify what the reader is looking for – or even the language they are searching in (Ecuador is spelled the same in English and Spanish).

Specific keywords are easier to rank for – and can be very profitable. These can range from 2-4 words and narrow the topic down considerably.

Generally speaking, long tail keywords are the easiest to rank for.  This can take some research, but isn't that hard. These can be very long, I've seen phrases from 10-14 words. For example:

  • canon powershot sx6210 hs review
  • how to change the oil in 1994 trooper
  • best blog platform for making money

These long tail keywords generally aren't that competitive because the search traffic isn't that high. As you write granular posts you will just automatically rank for them.

Which type of keyword should you target?

4 Steps to SEO Keyword Research

While long tail keywords are useful in some cases, you should target specific keywords – expressions of 2-4 words. Taking the time to carry out SEO keyword research will have long term benefits on the success of your site.

Here's how to get started:

  1. First of all, you should sit down and write a list of the main topics on your site. These can serve as your categories. Be sure to include phrases and expressions that your readers and customers would use to describe your offering.
  2. Now, you'll want to select more specific terms. I like to use Market Samurai to get related keywords. You can also use Long Tail Pro or Keyword Planner. These tools help you to see phrases related to your topic. Don't skip this step. If you only use words that you can think of – you'll likely miss the most profitable expressions.
  3. Now this list needs to be reduced and/or organized. Which ones will make up your primary 5-10 keywords? Remember to choose specific keywords (generally 2-4 words in length). These terms should best describe what your site is about.
  4. Now organize the remaining keywords. Some of them might make a good blog post. Others might be good for a whole post series. Keep the list and continue to update it in the coming months.

It's a good idea to create the list of keywords as you establish your blog niche. It will give you a good idea of the number and type of posts you can create and if they can be monetized in some way.


3 SEO Keyword Research Tools We Use

While you can just brainstorm your keywords, it's best to use a tool to identify them. We've had good success with these three:

  • Keyword Planner by Google Adwords: This free tool is great for initial searching. Once you log in, choose “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”.
  • Market Samurai: This is a powerful piece of software that will accelerate your sifting.
  • Long Tail Pro: Similar to Market Samurai, this tool has a different, more user friendly interface but isn't quite as powerful.

Final Tip: There is value in repetition. Using varied or repeated keywords will improve your search ranking. Using the GoPro example, you might use the varied and repeated keywords of: GoPro camera, GoPro tutorials, GoPro mounts, GoPro action shots. These are focused around one large topic but break it down into granular pieces.

Thinking about moving your site to a new domain? Here's how to move a site without SEO penalties.

Your Turn

How do you determine the best keywords for your site? What are you struggling with in keyword research?

Please share you tips and questions below!


Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is co-founder of Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Bryan also runs two authority blogs with his wife, Dena: ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorials) and GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel).

14 comments… add one
  • Ugyen Dorji Dec 22, 2016, 5:06 am

    “What are your blog’s keywords?
    What? You haven’t chosen them yet?”
    This was the best ever thing I have seen. Yeah, I haven’t listed out the keywords for my blogs and did not have the idea of doing it. This post has helped me as a new beginner on doing basic things of keyword research… Thanks….

  • sanjay joshi May 10, 2016, 4:55 pm


    i use keyword planner . its great

  • Santanu May 8, 2016, 10:42 am

    Great article. Keyword research is everything in blogging. These days LSI keywords play an important role and I think one need a pro tool like SEMRUSH or Long Tail pro to get such ideas, besides using Google keyword tool. Thanks for sharing this article.

  • Johnk2 Apr 29, 2016, 4:35 am

    Very informative blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  • Jason Aug 2, 2015, 1:44 am

    I hope this article ranks. It’s exactly what non-seo folks like me are wondering all the time! Thanks Bryan

  • Sunil K Chaira Jul 15, 2015, 1:22 pm

    Just bookmark this page. Thanks for sharing with us. Feeling really satisfied.

  • Ana May 15, 2015, 11:09 am

    Hey Bryan– good bird’s eye view on SEO keyword research. It does a solid job of demystifying the SEO process for people who are just starting to learn about it.

    Just a quick note that while there is value in repetition, we have to remember that in the end, we’re writing for *human* readers. I can rant all night about the many websites I visited but closed out just as quickly simply because its content was nothing but gibberish to non-spider readers such as myself. Be natural in spacing out the repeated words–make sure that it makes sense and does not come out all awkward and forced!

  • Tabby May 6, 2015, 9:55 pm

    Keyword planning is like the blueprint to constructing buildings. There is no way that you’ll get a sturdy and reliable building if you don’t have a blueprint to refer to. In SEO, without properly-planned keywords, you can’t expect to have a successful optimization campaign. Not possible.

  • Saurabh Tiwari Apr 9, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Hi BRYAN,

    This article contain great resource! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I hope the keyword framework you explained will help me convert more of my traffic.

    Now time to research!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Brent Jones Apr 5, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Nice guide! Will share this out this week. Thanks!

  • Sarah Tylor Mar 23, 2015, 2:49 am

    Hey Bryan,

    Awesome quality content!!! I appreciate your guide on “How To Build a Blog Keyword List”. Keyword planning should be done very carefully because it is important task related blog or website. Love to share this blog on social media with my friends, buddies and followers.

    Thanks for the nice post!

  • Celine Mar 20, 2015, 6:59 am

    Great article, but you didn’t touch on free keyword research tools out there besides Google Keyword Planner. My old time favourite was Ubersuggest, up until it was replaced with more modern – sleek free tool that grabs Google autocomplete suggestions.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 20, 2015, 7:40 am

      Thanks for sharing this free tool. It is new to me.

      The difference between free tools and the ones I mentioned above is that the free ones don’t give supporting data. While a list of keywords is great – what use are they if the keywords are seldom searched – or are extremely high competition? While a good keyword needs to be popular, it also must be possible to rank for. What I love about Market Samurai is that it gives daily search traffic, competition, and value. The “SEO Competition” tab allows users to analyze the top ten search results for any keyword and analyze them based on 16 factors (12 off-page and 4 on-page). This is critical to see what the actual competition is for the keyword.

      I think free tools have their place, but the premium tools will ensure that time spent researching keywords will payoff.

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