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How to Target Keywords With Blog Posts

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How to Target Keywords With Blog Posts

You’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of targeting keywords with your blog posts.

But why should you do that? And how exactly do you target keywords?

You’ll learn how in this post. 

Why target keywords?

If your content ranks high on Google, you can get traffic consistently over time. 

For example, we published this post on advanced Google search operators in 2018. To this date, we’re still getting tons of organic traffic: 

Line graph shows our post on advanced Google search operators getting tons of organic traffic

But you can’t just publish any random post and expect search traffic to come your way. To get consistent organic traffic, you need to write about topics that people are searching for.

This is why you should be targeting keywords with your blog posts. 

How to target keywords with blog posts

You now know why it’s important to target keywords. But how exactly do you “target” them?

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Here’s how. 

1. Find keyword ideas

The process begins by figuring out what keywords you want to target. We’re not just looking for any random keywords—we’re looking for relevant keywords that people are searching for.

The easiest way to do this is to use a keyword tool. Keyword tools are databases of words and phrases with their SEO metrics. They show you a list of ideas based on the seed keyword idea you’ve entered. 

You can use any keyword research tool. Many of them are free. However, most of the free keyword tools are limited in some way—they may have a small database, have poor or no filters, lack SEO metrics, and more. 

That can make it difficult to make good decisions. 

So we recommend that you use a “professional” keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Here’s how to use the tool to find keyword ideas:

  1. Enter one (or a few) relevant seed keywords, e.g., try plugging keywords like “coffee,” “latte,” “french press,” etc., if you have a coffee blog
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Switch the tab to Questions
Matching terms report results, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

You’ll see that there are over 300,000 potential keywords you could target. That’s too many—and most of them are probably too competitive. If you’re just starting out, it’s better to target keywords that are:

  • High in Traffic Potential (TP) – TP is the estimated amount of search traffic you can potentially gain if you rank #1 for that topic. We calculate it by estimating the amount of search traffic the #1 page currently gets.
  • Low in Keyword Difficulty (KD)KD is how difficult it is to rank for the keyword in the top 10 organic search results. 

Use the available filters to reduce the list down:

Matching terms report with filters applied, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

From here, you can look through the list and pick out those keywords that are relevant to your site.

Results generated by Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs 

2. Identify search intent

Google’s aim is to rank the most relevant content for any query. As such, it tries to understand why a searcher is Googling that keyword so it can serve the most relevant results. 

That means, in order to rank high on Google, we need to identify and match search intent. Fortunately, we can do this by looking at the current top-ranking pages for your target query. Specifically, we want to identify the three Cs of search intent:

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  • Content type – The dominant type of content on the SERPs—in this case, blog posts.
  • Content format – The dominant content format, such as guides, listicles, reviews, and more. 
  • Content angle – The dominant angle. Examples include the current year, for beginners, simple and easy, and more. 

For example, let’s take a look at the top-ranking pages for the keyword “how to clean coffee maker”:

SERP overview for "how to clean coffee maker"
  • Content type – They’re all blog posts.
  • Content format – Most of them are how-to guides.
  • Content angle – It seems like a few of them mentioned “with vinegar.” It could be a potential angle you might want to go for. 

If you’re targeting this keyword, for example, it’s likely you’ll have to create a how-to guide on cleaning a coffee maker (perhaps with vinegar!).

Recommended reading: What Is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners 

3. Create the content

Targeting keywords with blog posts is no longer about stuffing as many keywords as possible. That’s an ancient tactic that no longer works. If you want to rank high on Google, you need to show Google that your content is relevant and deserves to be on the first page. 

By matching search intent, you’ve already cleared the first hurdle. But how else can you show Google your content deserves to be there? 

Here’s how:

A. Cover important subtopics

If there are subtopics that almost all the top-ranking pages cover, then it’s a sign that searchers are looking for them. 

Here’s how to find these subtopics:

  1. Paste a few top-ranking URLs for your main topic into Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool
  2. Leave the bottom section blank
  3. Hit Show keywords
  4. Set the Intersection filter to 3 and 4 targets
Content Gap report results

We can see that the top-ranking pages cover topics like these:

  • What is earned media
  • Earned media examples
  • Owned media examples
  • Paid media examples
  • Paid media vs earned media
  • Owned media vs earned media

And more.

If we’re covering this topic (“earned media”), it is likely we’ll have to cover these subtopics too. Even better: You can use them as potential H2s to organize your content. 

B. Invest in a good reader experience

You should make sure your content is easy to read. After all, the purpose of your blog post is not just to rank but also to get the reader to consume your content. 

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Follow these tips to create an effortless reading experience:

  • Use descriptive subheadings (H2–H6) for hierarchy
  • Use bullets to help with skimming
  • Use images and GIFs (where needed) to break up the text
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs to avoid “walls of text”
  • Use simple words that everyone can understand
  • Write as you speak to make things conversational
  • Read your copy out loud (when editing) to smooth the flow

C. Don’t forget your on-page SEO

Your on-page SEO is the “icing” on the cake that helps make it doubly clear to Google and searchers that your page is relevant.

Here are the basics:

  • Use the keyword in the title (if possible)Google confirmed the importance of headings in 2020. If it’s difficult, don’t shoehorn the keyword—use a close variation instead.
  • Use short, descriptive URLs – A descriptive URL, usually the keyword, helps searchers understand what a page is about before clicking. 
  • Write a compelling meta description – It’s not a ranking factor, but it further helps entice searchers to click on your result.
  • Use descriptive alt text – This helps Google understand images better. 
  • Link to relevant internal and external resources – Linking to relevant internal and external resources helps visitors navigate your website and find more information.

Learn more

Interested in learning more about SEO and creating SEO content? Check out these resources:

Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter



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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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