Freelance Career

Dear freelance writers, here’s how to do keyword research to get your articles ranked

. 6 min read . Written by Vanshika Goenka
Dear freelance writers, here’s how to do keyword research to get your articles ranked

If you’re a freelance writer in the pursuit of having your creativity reach your target audience, chances are you’re fairly aware that keywords and SEO is a major component of that equation. And chances are that researching for keywords is also the bane of your existence. It’s the thorn in your side that you’re supposed to learn to accept, acknowledge and imbibe in your writing process.

So here’s a little something to make the process of keyword research more simplified. A step-by-step guide on finding the right keywords to get your blogs ranked on the SERP and reach your target audience.

Focus on the intent of the keyword, not the keyword itself

When I was in my learning phase of attempting to grasp this daunting process, I remember being told – with a lot of emphasis might I add, to focus not on the keywords you’re supposed to sprinkle your articles with, but rather with the intent of your piece.

The thing is, the Internet has undergone a series of drastic changes in the past couple of years. We started from a point where finding keywords was simply just using the words you wish to rank for over and over again in your article. But with the intensity of the speed with which new content is coming up out there, finding words is not sufficient anymore.

The intent of the keyword or the user intent is one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank well on search engines like Google. This essentially means that it’s more important that your article address the problem that the searcher intended to solve rather than simply carry the keyword searched.

How do I find intent-worthy keywords?

Let’s take an example here. For instance, Kool Kanya is writing an article about how to become a freelance makeup artist in India. The most obvious keyword that comes to mind here is freelance makeup artist. But try typing in ‘freelance makeup artist’ and see what comes up as the result.

The first thing that does come up is a list of beauty parlours, salons, and actual names of freelance makeup artists. And since the article is not sending out information on where you can find freelance makeup artists, this is clearly something that will not get your piece ranked.

The most basic and easiest way to find out the right keywords is to simply look for things that people are looking for. As I had mentioned earlier, answering questions that people are looking for (user intent) is basically the way to have your articles ranked.

How do I find what people are looking for aka the right keywords?

Keyword research basically aids you to find out what it is that people are exactly looking for. Incorporating this in your blogs essentially makes it easier for your pieces to be picked up by the search engines. Since it basically answers the questions that people are actually looking for.

So going back to the freelance makeup artist example, start by typing in those keywords and instead of hitting ‘enter’ and looking at results, your search starts by looking at the suggestions first.

Whenever you put something into the search query Google will come up with certain suggestions. Normally we tend to ignore those suggestions but for keywords, this is exactly where your research starts.

Next, when you do select a search query the result page will look something like this.

Notice that tiny, seemingly inconsequential ‘People Also Ask’ dialog box? Not so unimportant here. All of that is a direct insight into what people are actually looking for. If you’re able to answer and incorporate all of these questions in your blogs and articles, then it gives incentive to the search engine to get your piece picked up whenever those questions are asked for.

Next, if you scroll to the bottom of the Search Engine Result Page (also called SERP, learn something new everyday!) you’ll see another tiny, but not so inconsequential as you may have guessed by now ‘Related Searches’ tab. This serves a similar function. As you keep clicking on those related searches, you will be led to newer SERPs with newer keywords presenting themselves before you.

If you continue this process long enough, you will eventually circle back to the same keywords you first started with. And that is when you know you have successfully completed your keyword research for this topic. This will further help you organise and streamline the flow of your article in order of the importance with which they appeared in your research too.

Every topic, every idea that dawns on you will have this same trajectory to follow. This process will help not only find out the right keywords (aka what people are looking for) but also help streamline the flow of your piece too.

Competing for keywords

Conventionally, this process is quite exhaustive in terms of outlining your article to fit your user’s needs. But there is one last nail yet to be hammered.

Chances are, you must have come across several other web pages in your search. These are the web pages that, more often than not, have already been ranking for the keywords you wish to rank for, and have already answered the questions that you are trying to answer.

So how do you compete with those pages?

Checking for keyword competition & volume via tools

Image Courtesy: Word Tracker

When you type in the keywords that you found on any of these keyword search tools (like Semrush, Google Analytics, Google Adsense, Keywords Everywhere, etc.) you’ll find their competition and their volumes.

The figures corresponding to the competition column basically shows the degree to which this keyword is already being used. Higher the competition, more web pages are already ranking for it and more difficult it is for you to rank for it.

So your goal should be to look for keywords (as the tools will give you alternate suggestions for the one you searched for) with lower competition.

Similarly, the figures corresponding to the volume column show how many people are searching for this keyword or how many times this has been mentioned on the Internet. Naturally, a higher volume is what your keyword should aim for.

So the most ideal combination for the keywords that you have found should be lower competition and higher volume.

And as far as your creativity as a writer is concerned, personally, your voice, your ideas and what your venture is trying to create on the digital spectrum should precede keyword research.

For the long run and for the pursuit of your sustainability as a writer, ask yourself these three questions before beginning to write anything –

  • Which questions is no one willing to answer?
  • What does everyone disagree with you about?
  • What is the message you’d like to disseminate via this platform that you have created for yourself?

And that is how you will never feel jaded or irrelevant as a writer. A rather important sentiment to possess when you’re thriving in a plethora of writers trying to perhaps reach the same audience you are vying for.