Keyword Research: It’s Not What You Think

Keyword Research

“Words are powerful,” my teacher said, looking out over my 7th grade English class. “These little blotches of ink have overthrown kings, governed religions, and caused millions of men and women to fall in love.”

Yes, it was a tad dramatic, but my 13-year-old heart started racing. Those were the words that launched my writing career.

For the last 12 years, I’ve been on a continuous quest to master the power of words, to wield them with great eloquence and effect. I’ve written thousands of pages, read hundreds of books, and now I’m making a living with nothing but words.

And I’ve learned one thing: my teacher was wrong. Words aren’t powerful.

The right words are.

What’s the difference between a headline that goes viral on Twitter and Facebook and one that’s ignored? The right words.

What’s the difference between a blog post that receives hundreds of referrals from search engines or none at all? The right words.

What’s the difference between an opening paragraph that grabs the attention of your readers and one that has them looking for the Back button? The right words.

Choose the right words, and you’ll receive traffic, subscribers, revenue, influence… everything you need to be a success. Choose the wrong words, and you’ll be just another nobody that doesn’t get it, forever clamoring for attention but forever ignored.

So where do you find the right words? You guessed it—by understanding what copywriting is really all about.

The Origin of Keyword Research

There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use. ~ Eugene Schwartz

Hang around the web long enough, and you’ll hear Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts raving about keyword research. But they weren’t the first ones to start talking about it. Copywriters were researching their “keywords” long before search engines even existed.

The above quote is from Eugene Schwartz, one of the most influential copywriters in the history of the craft. It’s a piece of the following, much longer quote from the 1960s:

One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. Just read, just read, just read… There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.

He’s referring to studying your audience. Before writing a single word of their sales letter, top copywriters spend weeks or months talking to prospects, reading their favorite magazines, and studying sales letters that have worked (or even failed) with that audience in the past.

Why? To find the right words.

At the deepest level, keyword optimization has nothing to do with SEO. It’s about knowing your audience so well that you learn which words will grab their attention, earn their trust, and persuade them to buy your products or services in the future. You have to “optimize” your writing for maximum effect.

Sound like work? It is… but not nearly as much as it used to be. Where Eugene Schwartz and his colleagues spent months analyzing a niche, you can do your research in a matter of minutes using the latest keyword research tools.

How to Build a Popular Blog with Keyword Research

If you’re thinking about starting your first blog or enhancing your existing one, “keyword research” can sound technical and intimidating to the uninitiated. Really though, it’s pretty straightforward.

Keyword research tools like Wordze, Keyword Discovery, and Wordtracker estimate the number of times people search for different phrases. For instance, according to Wordze, approximately 11,222 people search for the term “blogging” each month.

Estimations from keyword research tools are rarely accurate, so you shouldn’t expect to receive 11,222 visitors per month if you show up first when someone types “blogging” into Google. It might be significantly less or more (ask Darren of Problogger).

You can gauge the popularity of a topic relative to other topics. For instance, the general term “blogging” is more popular than the more specific term “business blogging,” which only has an estimated 3,319 searches per month.

But keyword research is about more than traffic. It’s about understanding your niche from the inside out. You can use it to help you choose:

  • A popular (or profitable) niche for your blog
  • Post topics that people want to read about
  • Related markets to tap into
  • Products and services to promote (for a fee) on your blog
  • Ads that will bring you the highest cost per click (CPC)

Let’s go through each part, step-by-step.

Next: How to Choose a Popular Niche for Your Blog Using Keyword Research.

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