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    keyword phrase selection for blogsI should say right from the start that you should always write first and foremost for your readers – that’s Rule #1 when it comes to creating a successful blog.

    Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that a blog is also an important tool in helping our positioning and Search Engine ranking for keyword phrases which are important to us and our business. These may be ones which cover central themes in our blog and our business activities, or they could be targeting areas that we would like to benefit from as part of the “Long Tail” effect that blogs are excellently positioned for.

    The key first step is identifying the right keyword phrases is going to be key to our efforts to get better rankings through Search Engine Optimisation. This will allow us to focus our articles at areas which we know will appeal both to our readers and to the Search Engines at the same time. It can also help to achieve a more comprehensive coverage in our chosen area by identifying keyword phrases in adjacent areas that are relevant to what we offer.

    To help in this task and find the best keyword phrases, there are a number of tools around and a lot of them are free! In addition to the tools that I have mentioned below, also take the time to check out your competitors’ sites and see what words they are targeting in their Title tag and keyword meta tag (go to View -> Source in Internet Explorer to view these). While not to be directly copied – after all every business is different – they can be a good source of additional information and ideas.

    Here are the keyword tools that I have looked at and consider worthwhile.

    WordTracker
    WordTracker is probably the best known tool in the field and is the self styled Leading Keyword Research Tool. They is a scaled charge for a weekly, monthly or annual subscription as well as a limited free trial, but it is also very complete in what it offers across a number of Search Engines.

    Google AdWords: Keyword Tool
    The Keyword Tool is built into AdWords but Google have also made it available externally so that you can do some initial research. It gives ideas for new keywords associated with your target phrase but does not indicate relevance or give details of number or frequency of searches

    Overture Keyword Selector Tool
    This tool is a little dated now (and of course Overture is now rebranded as Yahoo Search Marketing) but there is still validity in checking it out. It returns details of how many searches have been carried out in the Overture engine over the period of a month and allows a drill down into associated keywords containing your keyword phrase as well.

    NicheBot
    NicheBot has a mix of Wordtracker and Overture based tools as well as a nice keyword analysis tool which focuses on Googles results

    Digital Point Keyword Suggestion Tool
    One of a set of tools available at the Digital Point website this engine gives search numbers on keywords from Wordtracker and Overture sources

    In addition to these, although some of the keyword tools mentioned above already include it, I would also recommend taking a look through a Thesaurus (online or paperback) to open up other avenues. Sometimes you just cant beat going back to basics!

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    Back in December of last year, I wrote what I thought was a harmless little post called All Bloggers are Real Amateurs which did a little word play on the fact that the word “amateur” comes from the Latin “amare” – “to love” and that you should ideally be passionate about the subjects that you blog about. All well and good.

    I wasn’t targeting any keywords but I do basic optimisation on everything that I write so the Better Business Blogging site is set up with good title tags (using Stephan Spencer’s SEO Title Tag plug-in which is great and takes all coding effort out of it) as well as a number of other tweaks. Thought nothing more of it and it passed into the “Great Archive in the Sky” as posts do.

    However, recently while checking my blog stats, I noticed I was getting a number of hits on that post – not massive, but enough to stand out a little. That’s great, I’m always up for some additional, if unexpected, traffic. I checked what keyword phrase was attracting the hits and found it was “real amateurs” and discovered that I was position 2 for a UK search on the phrase and about page 6 worldwide.

    The downside was that all of the other sites were, shall we say, adult in nature and this was clearly a popular search term for a certain type of site. Aha … the penny finally dropped. (Took a while … yes, I know) In hindsight, having one of the tags as “blogging with passion” wasn’t a great idea either!

    So, the moral to this story is two-fold:

    • one, we know that blogs are attractive to Search Engines, but you can’t always dictate what they should or shouldn’t find attractive about your posts; and secondly,
    • if you are targeting keywords in your posts, then do your keyword research not only to make sure that they are relevant to your target readers but also that they are likely to produce the results you expect

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