Why Keyword Discovery Is Crucial To Your Search Engine Rankings

If your not using Keyword Discovery your blog posts are potentially missing out on bucket loads of traffic.

If you’re using WordPress, no doubt you’ve installed one or more of the great SEO plugins available today. With barely any knowledge on SEO, these plugins allow even a total newbie to create a post that’s reasonably well optimized for the search engines. While this is great news for those just getting started, if keyword discovery isn’t one of your first steps the rest of your efforts are going to be wasted. And this doesn’t just apply to new people either, as even friends of mine who are seasoned marketers, still skype me with posts optimized for the whackiest keyword phrases! Needless to say they don’t exactly love me when I tell them there is nobody searching for that term…

If you like watching grass grow you’ll be great at keyword discovery!

That heading probably just caused half my readers to run the other way but what the heck, it’s how I felt when I started out! While I absolutely love researching things, when it came to keyword discovery I was a slow learner. I knew it was important, perhaps even critical yet I refused to do it. We all have our own quirky little blocks and that was one of mine. When I finally came to my senses, I realized it was a block that any serious online marketer simply can’t afford and here’s why… You can’t get organic search traffic or make sales from a keyword that nobody is searching for in the first place. I can’t tell you the number of people out there boasting that they rank on page 1 for keywords that have no search volume. They ignorantly dream up a word or phrase and are naively excited that they rank on the first page. If you’re new to keyword research, let me tell you that all page one rankings are not created equal. Before you go trying to rank for anything, you need to establish whether there is currently or soon to be (e.g. in the case of product launches etc) a decent number of people searching for that term.

Google makes keyword discovery easy with their free keyword tool

Before you begin writing your next blog post, your first step is to make friends with Google’s Keyword tool. Once you have an idea of the topic for your post, it’s time to enter the mind-numbing world of keyword discovery. Ok yes there was a hint of sarcasm there but I promise you it’s not as bad as I used to make out it was. Seriously just 5 – 10 minutes will make a huge difference to the traffic you’ll receive over time. Once you’re on the site, just pop in a few keyword ideas to do with the topic or title of your blog post and check the number of people searching for it. In the screenshot below you can see that it shows wordpress seo as having 110,000 searches per month.

Keyword Discovery

In contrast, how to get my blog on page one or how to get my blog to page one of google both return zero search volume. This is a perfect example of what I mean when it comes to all page 1 rankings aren’t created equal!

Google keyword tool

What is the difference between exact match and broad match?

Broad match:  The default setting in the google keyword tool is to return broad match results. Basically it means if I’m looking at the results for keyword discovery and I have broad match ticked, it is going to show me all results that include keyword discovery as part of the term people searched for. E.g. If someone were to type in free keyword discovery tools without quotation marks, the term keyword discovery is still included in those results.

Exact match: On the other hand, if you choose to tick the box for exact match, you’ll notice the volume of results returned will be vastly different. This is because rather than showing you results for keyword discovery as part of what people are searching for, you’re now being shown the results for how many people used that exact term.

A word of warning, google’s keyword tool is not always accurate when it comes to permutations or the rearrangement of words when using the default broad match setting. E.g. If you type in leadership training, you will see it shows the same number of searches for both leadership training & training leadership. Odd hey!  This is where broad match can be misleading and why changing to the exact match setting in the keyword tool can be critical.

keyword tools

Just imagine if the keyword tool showed that the term training leadership also had low competition and you wasted months optimizing an entire sales page thinking there were 135,000 people a month eagerly trying to find you. Argh! So the best rule of thumb is if the results look weird, they probably are. Go with what seems logical or do more research.

How will keyword discovery help me sell more products?

If you’re aiming to sell products online, it makes sense that you want to scoop up as much free traffic as you can from people searching for the solution your products offer. And whilst you might think you can get away with not doing any keyword research because your product offers a solution that seems obvious e.g. Leadership Training, how is your site going to compete with the 6 million + results already showing up on google?

Unfortunately unless you have a good handle on seo, you’ll have little hope of scooping up traffic for that search term. And to be honest, I wouldn’t aim to rank for a search term like that in any case as it’s too generic. The term leadership training on it’s own tells me nothing about the solution they are seeking. Do they want to become a better leader at their next fund raiser… Who knows! If they are searching for lose weight fast, are they looking to lose weight before their wedding or are they looking to have their Labrador in shape before their next vet appointment… Once again, who knows! The awesome thing about keyword discovery is it allows you to find the low hanging fruit in an otherwise competitive market. The important part is to use it to find keywords that match the solution your potential buyers are seeking. So in the case of leadership training, you might discover keywords related to becoming more confident. Now instead of trying to optimize your post for a competitive term like “leadership training” (over 6 million + exact matches), you discover that “how to build confidence” has a decent amount of people searching for a solution and only half the competition (3 million + exact matches). Obviously 3 million + isn’t exactly low in terms of competition but my aim is to show you how quickly you can find less competitive (high search volume) phrases by investing a little extra time.

When can I get away with not using keyword discovery for my posts?

There are certain situations when speed of publishing is going to be more important than keyword discovery:

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  • New brands
  • Product launches
  • Upcoming celebrities, sports people, authors etc

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  • Breaking news
  • Affiliate launches
  • New dilemmas (E.g. How to get Google+invites)

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In these cases, while there might not be any search volume right now, you need to get moving fast! This is one of the few times you can get away with ranking highly without any keyword research whatsoever and be rewarded. E.g. You know the name of the product for an affiliate launch or your company just announces the name of a new product. Last time my company announced a new product I had a new blog up and ranking for that exact name within days. So although there couldn’t possibly be any search volume for a product that nobody had heard of, over time the search volume has steadily increased.

Well that wraps this up so I’d love to hear your thoughts or any other tips you have in the comments below… Do you enjoy keyword discovery, find it boring, agree that it’s essential?


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15 thoughts on “Why Keyword Discovery Is Crucial To Your Search Engine Rankings”

  1. Hi Michaele,
    Excellent article and I really enjoy your writing style. Keyword Discovery, great alternative to keyword research! I have also been taught to use LSI keywords. LSI keywords are provided by google for you in the results window. Spreading some of these closely related keywords throughout your article has been very effective for me in landing on the first page of google. People will often use LSI keywords without even realizing it but when you are aware of them and which ones to use it can be very powerful.

    Thanks for all the info and such a great post!

    • Hi Richard,

      Yes LSI keywords are a great way to land on page 1, especially if your main keywords have high competition. Thanks for adding value to the post and sharing your tips.
      I’m glad you enjoy my writing style. I try to add a bit of fun to topics that tend to fall into the overwhelming or boring categories.
      Great to have connected with you through my favorite FB group :)

  2. Hi Michaele,

    A really useful post and the discussion. I thought you’ll be talking about some tools like Market Samurai and so so, but it is the process of complete human intelligence.

    And a big thank you for explaining broad match and exact match.

    BTW, how do you compose the posts? I mean, do you first sit for keyword discovery and start post or you write your post and optimize it based on the keyword discovery results?

    • Hi Suresh,

      Market Samurai is one of my absolute favorite tools and I will definitely be covering it in a future post. A lot of people I talk too are quite overwhelmed by advanced tools, so my aim with this post was to cover the basics.
      The way I compose my posts is I think of the topic I want to cover, think through some possible titles, and then discover keywords associated with the titles. Once I’ve decided on the keyword, I then do the on page optimization after I’ve finished writing. It’s important for me to be passionate and interested in what I write about so starting a post with keyword discovery probably wouldn’t inspire me! Having said that, this order is based on my personal blog. I have other blogs which are more geared towards product sales and therefore the process starts with keywords and then writing the post. Writing for the SERPS is not nearly as much fun though!

      Thanks for your engaging questions.


  3. Very informative and useful post Michaele. This will help a lot to me as a new one in blogging. This idea enhances my capability. All of the content is about keywords and in fact I definitely understand those things. Thanks for sharing this and its a very big help for me..

    • Hi Jonathan,

      I’m glad you had some takeaways from this post, especially since you are new to blogging. It’s useful to keep in mind that although I’m emphasizing the importance of keyword discovery, make sure the topic your passionate about comes first. Then do your keyword research to make sure you can match the passion for your topic with a keyword that has decent search volume.

      Thanks for the great feedback as I may need to update this post so that people don’t overly focus on keywords vs their passion.


  4. Hi Michaele,

    Great post, it is always a challenge to find the right balance between traffic, relevance to your niche and competition. I try to keep up with SEO as much as I can and in the past have made some mistakes you highlight in your post. You are right, there is no point being first for something no-one searches for.

    Recently been trying to add words like best or new or even 2011. It makes a nice difference. Volume is often not much lower but competition just drops off the cliff!

    Love the Broad and exact match explanations!


    • Hey Nik,

      Thanks for adding value to this topic with some awesome tips! You’re spot on, a little creativity such as including the words you’ve mentioned, can make a huge difference to the competition.
      I appreciate your insight :)
      What I would love to know is if you remember how you came across this post?


  5. Thank you very much for sharing this one. This only shows that i have to learn more about this kind of stuffs since i am just starting my life as a blogger. Am afraid there’s so much more that i have to learn and understand about keywords. Better read more articles like this one. Thanks for the info! Great work!

    • Hi Gerald,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment. I know keywords, SEO etc can feel overwhelming when you are just starting out but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
      Start a post on a topic you are passionate about, think of various titles for your post, then put a shortened version of those titles into the google keyword tool and go from there.
      Essentially what you are doing is staying passionate about your topic, and then searching for relevant keywords that indicate there are a decent amount of people searching for the topic you are passionate about.
      What keyword discovery allows you to do is find the keywords people are actually searching for, which = high traffic vs guessing or assuming which = potentially low or zero traffic.


  6. Working as an SEO when I first started it hit me big time that I was a bit naive about keywords on how this is creating a big impact into my clients site. Sometimes people really choose a keyword which is almost no one searches for them but there is just one thing that i have done so far that made me also re think this. I think using some of the keywords i have search which has less volume of people searching but can easily help you get on top helped me to boost the keywords which has the high searching results to also go on top with linking the ones which is already on top in search engines. Somehow it does good for me.

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