Welcome back to this next installment on how to start a blog. Starting a blog as I discussed in part one covered things such as goal, purpose and subject matter. Some very important questions were asked for you to ponder and now we're here..
Are you ready... ?
Of course you are !
Well lets talk about a very important element.. "Is anyone searching for my content ?"
I bet you're wondering.. well how do I know ? In my early days of building websites, I didn't have a clue about search volume and how to interpret the data even when I had the information. So if you're anything like I was, this will be pretty insightful and even if you don't really understand it right now, it's not extremely difficult and that's a good thing because this is something that will prove to be very helpful in the long run as you choose the direction that you want to go.
The first thing that you'll want to do is understand that we're talking about niche and keywords. The niche is basically the overarching subject that you want to talk about. For example, that could be any of the following:
All I've done is list some VERY general topics. These are all referred to as a "niche". You can and should drill this down to something a bit more narrow. When it comes to blogging.. too broad isn't typically a good thing. Too narrow typically isn't a good thing either. On one hand going extremely broad will yield lots of searches which is great, but take this for instance.. If we look at cars.. when was the last time you did a search for "cars".
Chances are good that you didn't. You did a search for a particular style, brand or type of car. So you can't just think about this from your point of view.. you should think like those that will be searching for terms that may find their way to you. What are potential visitors going to be searching to find you ? With that example on cars in mind, focusing in on something a bit more narrow, but not too narrow will prove beneficial to you.. it's about finding that happy medium (aka. the sweet spot).
Well how do you do that ? Great question..
My tool of choice is Long Tail Pro and this is a tool that I use personally for keyword research for this website. Now while this is a paid tool, it works much better in my opinion than several other well known free products. One of the better know free products is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner (adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner). Some people love that tool and some can't stand it. As for me, it's not really my cup of tea, but I mention it because it may be a good starting place for you if you're not ready to jump into a paid product.
Nevertheless, I'll focus on Long Tail Pro (LTP) for the sake of this post since that's the software that I would highly recommend that you use for the research stage of the blogging process. Using software like this is what will put you way ahead of the game. It's still baffling how often new bloggers start blogs and target keywords that only yield 10 or 20 searches per month. I'll be frank about this.. you're fooling yourself into thinking you're going to get any traction targeting keywords that awful. I mean we're not going to go after rockstar keywords that would make you salivate at the mouth if you were one of the first results for that keyword, but you are going to focus on the "low hanging fruit" and middle of the road keyword phrases and LTP will help you find those targets.
The reason why Long Tail Pro is so important is because it will allow you to put in a seed keyword (e.g. a keyword that it will use to help you discover "other" related keywords that you can focus on trying to rank for and embed into your content). Interestingly enough, I haven't done a review of this software yet, but when I get one completed, I'll be sure to link it to this post so that you can see a more in depth overview of what it is capable of. However, exploring the software on your own will allow you to discover it's ease of use as well. The most important takeaway on LTP is that it will help you discover new related keywords and provide the monthly search volume so that you know whether a keyword has volume or not.
A good rule of thumb is that if you don't have at least 1000 to 5000 searches a month in a niche, it's a bad idea to pursue it unless it's a product niche where the products per sale are in the hundreds of dollars. In this instance where that is "not" the norm, you'd be fine in pursuing the niche even if it didn't receive at minimum, one thousand "unique visitors" per month. So with that said.. while we haven't gotten into anything connected to monetization before now, it definitely should work into your thought process as you consider what niche you're going to set as the focus for your blog.
I know that's a lot to digest and once you acquire Long Tail Pro or start utilizing your own keyword research tool, you'll start to understand more and more why I made it the central focus of this blog post. The keyword research is a critical component of your blogs success in the early stages and throughout the continual growth and development of your blog.
As I continue this series, we will get into the discussion on domain, hosting and more so stay tuned and share this if you know someone that is interested in getting into blogging that could benefit from this information.
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