There are dozens of ways to do keyword research. I’m going to delve into one of them; arguably the easiest and fastest way too. I call it the Rabbit Hole Method. It’s a term I coined myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone far smarter than me discovered it first.
The Rabbit Hole Method is best used for doing research on blog post titles. As you’ll see, it is fairly limited in its ability to do much else with great efficiency.
The Perfect Blog Title
Before I dive into this keyword research method, it's important to look into the reasoning behind it. When writing a blog post, about anything, the highest level goal should simply be for it to be easily found on Google. Crafting a killer title is one of the best ways to do that. But getting found isn't the only thing that matters. The title needs to entice searchers to click-through to read the actual post.
What's in a name?
The name of your blog post should be clear as to what the post is about without spoiling it's content. The best blog titles create mystery, drama, and stir up curiosity. Word choice is critical. Be careful not to tread into click-bait territory. Good blog titles don't trick or deceive users into clicking. They make a promise about the contents of the post and that post better deliver on that promise. All of that said, there are a few types of posts that perform better than others:
These are probably the most popular type of post you'll encounter. The titles contain a number of things/reasons/steps/problems along with a description of each. List-based articles work so well because the title instantly provides value to the user because they know exactly what's inside.
Here are some examples of list post titles:
10 Ways to do ______
15 Reasons Your _____
101 Easy Steps to _____
50 Problems That _____
Using numbers in post titles also tells potential readers what they can expect and, depending on the number, how long the article will take to read. For smaller numbers (less than 10), make sure each one has plenty of detail. For mid-range numbers (11-20ish), there should be enough detail on each to get the point across. For larger numbers (20ish and up) each point should be short and sweet.
Everyone loves learning how to do something new. How To posts use that to their advantage. Just like this post. You're reading this because you want to know how to do keyword research and what makes a good blog title.
How to titles are easy to write because you simply add "How To..." in front of a topic:
How to Find ____
How to Do ____
How to Setup ____
How to Avoid ____
People love asking questions. The more answers you can provide to those questions the better your blog will perform. To find out which questions your users are asking, just reach out to your sales and support teams to find out what they encounter from clients and prospects. Use those questions as fodder for blog content:
How do I ____
What's the best way to ______
Where is the _____
Why does this _____
Infographics are more than just images. As the name suggests, they graphically display information in an easily digestible format. What's not to love about that? If you're writing a post that includes an infographic, be sure the title says so!
This infographic shows _____
A handy infographic about ____
Pro Tip: Since search engines cannot read the content of images, make sure to transcribe to contents of the infographic in the blog post.
People hate making mistakes just as much as they love being successful. If your post titles can touch on those feelings, great! Here are some examples:
Don't make these ____ mistakes
Successful companies do _____
These Mistakes will ____
If you want to be successful, do _____
Also known as the "everything you need to know" titles. If your topic is multifaceted and well researched, this might just be the type of title to go with. Just be careful to not over promise in the title and disappoint readers with lackluster content that really wasn't all encompassing.
Your Ultimate Guide to ____
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About ____
____: Everything You Need to Know
Buying a ____? Here's Everything You Need
These types of posts are common in the software industry so readers can understand the differences between features and functionality. You'll also see them in retail to compare two or more similar products. It's up to you if you'd like to weigh in on which one you think is best, or simply give the facts and let readers decide for themselves. Personally, providing an opinion is what I like to see when reading comparison posts - especially if they're written by someone with authority on the subject.
____ vs ____. Which is better?
Looking for a new _____? Here are some options.
The Pros and Cons of _____ vs _____
____ vs ____. Your Guide to ____
Here's a more exhaustive list with several examples for each on the various types of blog post titles.
Be Cautious about Click-Bait
As alluded to above, be cautious not to delve into click-bait territory. Theatrical headlines and fantastical promises may get clicked, but users will not stick around to keep reading once they realize they've been duped. We've all seen those posts on social media. Don't be that company. Write content that provides immense value for readers and touches on the pain points of your buyer persona.
The Rabbit Hole Method
Now that you understand the types of blog titles to create, how do you actually find out which terms to use in a title that will be found in search engines? For the purposes of this post, I'm going to use my own process for creating this very post.
The core topic of this post is keyword research. From there, it's "how to do keyword research." To expand on that even further, "how to do keyword research for blog post titles." As you can see by the title of this post, that's not what I ended up choosing. Here's the process I used to arrive at the final title.
Step 1: Go to Google and Enter a Search for Something Simple
Google powers 70-80 percent of all searches. Logic dictates that people who search Google, Bing and Yahoo do so in the same manner, therefore the terms being entered into Google will fairly accurately represent the terms being entered into the other two. Keep your initial query simple, no more than 2 words. This will be the overarching topic of your post.
In the above search, ‘keyword research’ is an example of a Short Tail Keyword. A Short Tail Keyword is a very broad term; only containing 1-2 words. The search volume on Short Tail Keywords is large and they are highly competitive.
But we’re not going to stop there.
Step 2: Scroll to the Bottom of the Page and Look at Related Searches
In the following screenshot, we see related searches suggested by Google. These come from terms that other users entered into the search box. This is a gold mine of useful data!
From here, we can get a list of Fat Head Keywords. A Fat Head Keyword is in between a Short Tail and Long Tail keyword. Let’s click on the ‘how to do keyword research’ result.
You’ll see that it does a new search for that term. And when you scroll to the bottom, you’ll get deeper into the rabbit hole with related searches.
Now you’ll see that none of these relate to what I’m doing research for: Good Blog Post Titles. If you don’t see what you’re looking for in Related Searches, don’t fret! Let’s go back to the top and refine our search.
Step 3: Refine Your Search with Google Suggest
Back at the top of Google, we’re going to enter our term into the search box and use the Suggest Feature to refine it down. Notice how when we start typing our long tail keyword into Google, the suggest feature stops working after so many words?
This is a good thing! It means that your proposed title has so little search volume that Google Suggest doesn’t know what to offer up next. Why is that a good thing, you ask?
It’s good because your post now contains a Short Tail Keyword (‘keyword research’), Fat Head Keyword (‘how to do keyword research’), and a Long Tail Keyword (‘how to do keyword research for blog post titles’).
Publishing a blog post with the title ‘Keyword Research’ would be foolish. You’ll never rank for that term because you cannot compete.
Publishing a blog post with the title ‘How to Do Keyword Research’ would result in much the same. You might rank for it over time, but it would take years to do so.
Now, if you publish a post with the title ‘How to Do Keyword Research for Blog Post Titles’ you’re going to rank for that immediately because the search volume is so low. The best part though? You’ll also rank for the other terms. Three birds with one stone.
Step 4: Add Something Catchy
This is where those types of blog titles I opened with come in handy. Looking through that list, I decided to use a "How-to" post, since that what this blog is about. Currently, our working title is “How to do Keyword Research for Blog Post Titles.” That’s pretty good, but it won’t make someone click on it when it shows up in the SERPs.
A good way to add something catchy is with a colon. Google doesn’t index punctuation marks, so use that to your advantage! So, if we add a colon followed by “The Rabbit Hole Method” we’ve now added something interesting and catchy to our title. It will pique the interest of users, but it's not click-bait by any means.
Our new working title is “How to do Keyword Research for Good Blog Post Titles: The Rabbit Hole Method”
The current title is 76 characters long. That’s too long for Google, and why I decided to use something else as the final name for this post.
Another thing to keep in mind is how you format the title. From the Moz post above, they provide a template for this:
Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword | Brand Name 8-foot Green Widgets - Widgets & Tools | Widget World
Step 5: Run Your Result through the Google Keyword Planner
The final step is to verify that your resulting title actually has search volume for it. This is where the Google Keyword Planner comes into play. You’ll need a Google Account to use it, but those are free, so go get one if you don’t have one yet. Google has changed the the interface of their keyword planner along with the interface of Google Ads. I've updated this post with current screenshots.
Once you’re logged in, click on Tools and then Keyword Planner in the Planning column:
From here, click on Find New Keywords. Enter the short tail, fat head, and long tail keywords we discovered from above:
how to do keyword research
how to do keyword research for blog titles
Click on the Get Started button to see the results. In this new iteration of the keyword planner, Google has gone away from providing an estimate on the monthly searches and now provides a range instead. This is because monthly search volume can vary so much and is prone to seasonality with all sorts of queries. While a range isn't as precise, it is more reliable over time.
Notice how our long tail keyword doesn't even show up? That's because there's not enough data to display, so Google doesn't include it at all. The operative here is “not enough data.” It just means there isn’t enough data on the exact term you entered to show a result.
We can see results for the other two terms. First and second on the list. As you can see, the search volume for them varies immensely.
Notice how ‘keyword research’ has 1K – 10K monthly searches and the competition is Medium. Likewise, ‘how to do keyword research’ has 100 – 1K monthly searches and the competition is Low. Our long tail keyword didn't make the cut. This means that there is very little search volume for it and the search term is not very competitive at all.
It was at this point where I decided to not use the original title I had in mind. It had to be shorter, but still have some punch to it. So, I brainstormed some adverbs to add the punch I was looking for. Ultimately, I settled on the word "perfect." That's what users want in a blog title. Perfection. Plus, this post has enough content to warrant using that word.
So, even though very few people are going to search for the verbatim title of this post, there are hundreds of variations of it and this post will rank for all of them. Google doesn't require keywords to appear in the exact order titles or copy. It's smart enough to gauge the overall topic and intent of a page and serve it up to users searching for similar things.
Here's the best part: even though the long tail version of our keyword doesn't have any search volume, that doesn't mean nobody searches for it. The two are not mutually exclusive. But, those who do search for it (or variations of it) are looking for the exact the content of the post and they're going to spend a great deal of time reading it and possibly sharing it. And guess what? Time on page and social shares are both ranking factors that Google looks at when indexing a page.
Limitations and Key Takeaways
With the Rabbit Hole Method, there are several limitations:
No easy way to take into account similar searches (such as ‘keyword research’ vs ‘research for keywords’). That’s what the Keyword Planneris for.
Next to impossible to do en masse for a website sitemap.
Doesn’t take into account the actual SERPs for the terms you entered. A lot can be learned by looking at those titles and descriptions.
You’ll quickly run out of ideas for blog post titles. The related searches are fairly limited in size and don’t change very often. You’ll need to expand your search criteria in order to get more results.
With those limitations, come several key takeaways:
This is arguably the best method for doing keyword research for blog post titles.
Be cautious of the character limit on title tags in Google. With this method, it’s really easy to get long, drawn out titles. Google truncates titles longer than a certain length. So make sure to follow the template above and get your primary and secondary keywords front and center.
This is why they say you should spend 80% of your time on the titles and 20% on writing the actual post.
Lather, rinse, repeat! Writing blogs is not a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. It takes time, patience, and remarkable content!
Content is King as the old adage goes. Without content, you cannot be king. Plain and simple.
I’m passionate about making things happen for our clients, thus generating real and quantifiable results. As the Technical Marketing Manger, I have the joy to touch nearly every aspect of our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. From social media, to blogging, to PPC to lead nurturing, and email marketing. I love generating new ideas and then watching them come to life. In my free time, I brew my own beer with my dad and brother, play with my kids, go on dates with my wife and occasionally get a little gaming in.