If you’ve ever used Yoast or RankMath to help you with SEO for your content marketing, then you may have found yourself slightly addicted to chasing that green light buzz.
But is it helping your Google rankings? Or is it damaging your content?
I’ll start by saying I think these are great SEO tools. They are a super-easy way to make sure you’re ticking the basic SEO checklist.
BUT! They are not a substitute for keyword research.
You’ve been given the wondrous green light. Hurrah! And then, oh no! You’re still not seeing any organic traffic funnelling through. Why not?
If you’ve been experiencing a bit of green light frustration, then it might be worth doing a bit of digging around your chosen keywords.
Keyword research for beginners
Yoast will be judging your content’s SEO smashingness based on your chosen ‘focus keyword.’
What your SEO plugin is not doing is checking how competitive that keyword is.
Some keywords are easier to rank for than others. This is typically because they’re less competitive; this could be because there are fewer searches for them or because there isn’t as much high-quality content out there for them.
For example, you might choose ‘pet shop’ as a keyword. You’ve put it in all the right places, and Yoast has given you the big ol’ green light.
But it doesn’t matter because the competition is stonking. Competing with huge players with mega domain authority is going to trump that green light every time!
Organic search traffic was defined by marketers as the key metric for defining content success in 2020 (76%).SEMrush Content Marketing Survey
So, how do you find good keywords that will bring you organic traffic?
There are a host of keyword research tools out there, ranging from free to pricey. To begin with, I’d recommend using Keywords Everywhere, an SEO keyword tool that doesn’t break the bank.
For approx £9, you can buy ample credits to help you create a keyword glossary that you can fill with keywords and longtail keywords that are less competitive. So that when you get that green light, it actually might result in some traffic.
I have had conversations with two clients recently who had opposing problems that were causing the same issues limiting their success with organic traffic to their websites.
The first had chosen a keyword that wasn’t remotely competitive. She could definitely rank for it, probably on the top spot. But, nobody is searching for it!
There is no point in being at the top of Google for something nobody is searching for.
The second was targeting a keyword that was way too competitive for her to hit the first page.
For both, we did a bit of research using Keywords Everywhere to find alternative keywords taking into account how many people were searching for them and what the competition was like.
How to choose keywords for SEO
I like to start with a spreadsheet where I can plop all my potential keywords and phrases. I make a list starting with obvious keywords, and then I use Google suggests and the Keywords Everywhere plugin to come up with more.
Once I have them all, I then upload them into Keywords Everywhere to determine the volume of searches and the competition around them.
Don’t substitute the quality of your content to satisfy SEO
The second pitfall of obsessing about keyword research or an SEO plugin is that you become so obsessed with the ranking that you forget about the human you’re writing for.
Suddenly you have turned your lovely copy into spammy keyword hell just to get the green light buzz.
Remember this mantra ‘Write for people first, Google second.’
And if that gives you the odd amber light here and there, don’t sweat it. The quality of your content is more important.
User intent reigns
We all want ample organic traffic to our website, but if we get so caught up in SEO practises that we forget the people we are driving to our content, we need to take a breather and realign.
You want to create content that is useful for the people landing on your site. And you want those people to be your target client. So have this in mind above all else, and use your keyword research to inform you on what they are interested in.
Then do more of that and give your content a keyword sprinkle.
You can read more about how to nail giving your clients the content they want here.
In summary, SEO plugins are a great tool, and keyword research is valuable. But they won’t do it all for you. Don’t get lost in a sea of green lights that aren’t delivering results or keyword fixation that blinds you.
Let the light guide you, but try not to be blinded by it.
I’d love to know if these keyword research tips have helped you. Do you feel a little clearer about how to choose your keywords, or does it all still feel like gobbledygook?
Get your free SEO basics checklist plus tutorial here. You like free stuff, don’t you?!