TopHatRank Blogger SEO SEO Resources for Blogger and Publishers How To Perform Keyword Research; Recap SEO For Bloggers Episode #14

How To Perform Keyword Research; Recap SEO For Bloggers Episode #14

Recap, Q&A, + All the Resources

In order to provide the content that your audience is interested in, you need to have an idea of what it is they are searching for. During our 14th episode of SEO For Bloggers, our panelists broke down the basics of keyword research, how to create content that can help you gain traffic to your blog using long-tail keywords, the amount of time you should take to conduct keyword research, along with providing a list of tools and resources you can utilize to conduct this integral portion of content creation.

Use these buttons to jump to sections, and don’t forget the “back to top” button (bottom right) for easy navigation:

Replay the LIVE Webinar

Don't Miss Out On Future Resources!

You don’t want to miss out on future virtual and live events with #TeamTopHat and other industry experts. Sign up for our mailing list to get free resources and updates today!

Q&A With The Panelists

These are each of the questions that were asked during the Q&A portion of the webinar. The answers are provided by the panelists. Have a question about this episode you'd like addressed? Reach out to!

Question 1

How can I identify keywords/phrases that have a high search volume but are not too competitive? (I use Ahrefs)

You use a quality tool like, and you take a quality keywords course like “Cooking With Keywords” which teaches you how to use that tool to do quality research.


Question 2

Will you please touch on the importance of word order or syntax for a particular term?

Google is really good at figuring this out. It’s best to write naturally, for your audience (not for Google). If you incorporate variations in your writing (not using the exact same keyword phrase in the same order), it’ll be better for both readers and for Google.


Question 3

How do you get started with keyword search?

Take the “Cooking With Keywords” course from Aleka Shunk


Question 4

Is using 5 keywords per blog post considered over optimizing the post?

No. But trying to optimize a blog post for all those individual keywords is usually not effective. Focus on 1-2 focus keywords at the most and you’ll be shocked at how many RELATED keywords you’ll rank for anyway.


Question 5

I’m paying for both Ahrefs and Keysearch. The results for a keyword are so different between the two. Which one is more accurate?

Keysearch, because it’s using a Google API. Ahrefs doesn’t use an API, it uses clickstream data and its own algorithms. That’s the same with SEM Rush as well. But in the end, ALL KW tools are never fully accurate.


Question 6

How do you use keywords that aren’t written out how one would normally speak? For example “ pumpkin cake almond flour”

Say “Pumpkin cake made with almond flour” or something that is natural. Google understand that when someone searches “pumpkin cake almond flour” that the person is looking for the same thing.


Question 7

How does Arsen define “decent” search volume?

Because of the monetization model for publishers, I would focus on keywords that have at least 5k+ monthly estimated volume. But I also understand that this might be a bit difficult to achieve. So just focusing on individual keywords might not be the best approach. Instead, look at things from a topic perspective. How much traffic can this topic generate based on all the keywords for which this post can potentially rank? Then, use topic research tools to help you with discovery.


Question 8

What if most of the KWs in my niche have a low search volume? How can I find KWs or keyphrases with a higher search volume and still a lower competition score for newer sites?

As mentioned above, start using topic research tools to help blossom your posts by ranking them for more keywords.


Question 9

Do you factor in competitor DA when doing keyword research? How much higher DA than your own would you consider?

It’s a good “comparison metric.” In fact, our top recommended keyword research tool,, uses DA as a comparison metric to help you find and unearth keywords you can rank for.


Question 10

What should I do with old posts that I did no keyword research for? I have old posts with broad terms that I clearly will never rank for. Is there anyway to update these posts and make them more specific now?

Absolutely! Simply update the posts with more specific keyword phrases.


Question 11

Keyword Difficulty: Can you talk a little bit about how to determine if your particular site (with your particular DA and your niche) and expertise can rank for a keyword with a high difficulty?

Asked and answered Katie. We recommend and we recommend taking the course “Cooking With Keywords” which covers how to use DA to find and rank for keywords appropriate for your site strength.


Question 12

When updating under-performing posts, is there a specific way to use the tools to improve those posts that’s not starting from scratch?

Are you asking for a checklist? If you take the “Cooking With Keywords” course that’s exactly what you will get to help update and republish currently underperforming posts.


Question 13

I published a detailed post yesterday on How to Make Cannabutter.27,000 queries a month, with 450,000 results. Today i’m ranking #30 for it on Google. Can I expect to stay there? Or in time will it go up? Or do I need referring domains for it to move up in ranking?

Be patient. It can also help if you add internal links to this new post — go back to some other posts, or to your category intro paragraphs, and add some links to the new post. Make sure the other posts are relevant, and that the links would actually be useful additional information to the reader on that post.


Question 14

If using a post template how do you fit as many keywords inside it?

You start by not trying to “fit as many keywords as possible” into a template. That’s called keyword stuffing. Focus on 1-2 keywords when researching a post. We find that’s more than enough.


Question 15

When searching for keywords most tools show a variety of ways to say the same thing. For example, “chocolate chip zucchini cake” and “zucchini cake with chocolate chips”. Do I need to specifically mention both in a post, or will Google pick them both up even if they aren’t worded exactly the way they are listed in search tools?

Google will pick them up, though it certainly doesn’t hurt to use multiple variations — which has the benefit of reading more naturally for humans.


Question 16

Should I leave performing posts alone or redo them into the template?

Our general advice is if a post is already ranking in the Top 3 of Google and doing well we don’t touch it. We call those “content unicorns.” Everything else, do what you can to get it moving.


Question 17

How do you effectively incorporate 2 or 3 keyword phrases in a post? And, how many should you target per a post?

Asked and answered above.


Question 18

I’m curious what Arsen was talking about earlier. Is there evidence to suggest that covering a topic extensively (such as a specific ingredient like quinoa) give you an edge over competition as far as ranking in that topic/for highly competitive keywords on that topic?

If your broader topic post like: 10 Best Quinoa Dinner Recipes used to rank for Quinoa but has dropped off after the last few updates, this is because your post did not cover the topic of Quinoa directly or in-depth. Putting together content that will focus on Quinoa vs. quinoa dinners will result in better rankings for that query.


Question 19

Does it matter where keywords appear in the text? Do they need to be early in the text or recipe for example or does it not matter?



Question 20

As a brand new blogger (haven’t even posted my 1st post yet) should I just go with what I know is popular that month and start creating content. Then go back in 3-4 months and see what I might be tracking for

No. You should take a course and dial in a template based on your existing site strength and experience. That will at least help you target some keywords you can rank for now and not be taking a 20/20 hindsight approach.


Question 21

Does US vs UK spelling affect search results? I hear Google is favouring US blogs for US audience? I am in NZ but 60% US audience.

There are a lot of factors to go into geotargeting your content. Are you hosting with a US-based host? Are you targeting a US-based audience within your Search Console? Are you targeting a US-based audience? All that will help dial in your US-based localization.


Question 22

Hypothetically, if you wanted to write about 3 ways to cook an egg, would you research “ways to cook an egg” and leave out the number? In your H1, would you spell the number or write the number?

Try searching for “3 ways to cook an egg” and you’ll see that the current search results include posts for “13 ways” and “15 ways” as well. Google recognizes that the user probably doesn’t really care about finding *exactly* three ways in this case. As for spelling out the number, that’s more of an editorial/style question — my high school English teacher would tell me to spell out the number at the beginning of a sentence, so that’s probably the best style. But if you write informally, perhaps you use the numeral? Google won’t care which you use, so follow your own style guide.


Question 23

Does using the Yoast FAQ block provide additional opportunities for keyword rankings and getting pulled for People Also Ask?

If you are going to use FAQs in your post you should actually mark those up with FAQ schema. Otherwise, Googel has no idea those exist. Use the Yoast FAQ block only helps yours visibility, it never hurts it.


Question 24

Isn’t it a no-no to put a keyword in a header other than the title? I thought it was…

It’s fine to use keywords phrases in some sub-headers in a post — just don’t overdo it.


Question 25

How can you see if Google has dinged you negatively for overusing the keywords? Is there a way to easily tell?

Yes, find a post you think you over-optimized. Note the ranking. Deoptimize the post and wait two weeks. Also, were you negatively impacted by a recent announced core update? Did you a Google-only examination of your existing KW rankings and traffic for the week before the update and after? Were you affected? If so, how?


Question 26

What is your opinion on having a keyword in a photo caption?

A photo caption is just more text on the page. If the caption adds value for your readers (perhaps by adding more context or explanation of the image — beyond what an Alt tag would do), then by all means include it. But don’t add a caption solely for the purpose of getting a keyword in there


Question 27

Does Google consider the category page information (description and posts included on the page) in determining whether a particular post meets user intent?

Google takes ALL the content on the page into account when determining user intent. Category pages are no different.


Question 28

What would try to focus on when you think you can rank for a keyword and you see a few other websites ranking on the first page with a lower DA? Would you try to include more iterations of the KW? Answer more FAQs? More words?

You focus on making a complete resource. You focus on driving both internal and external links to the post. You focus on driving new social signals to the post. And you focus on making sure your post technically is better. How does it load? Is it free of excessive ads? What’s the experience for the user on mobile? You focus on all of that!


Question 29

I notice in Google console some recipes rank higher in the carousel than in rich snippets. If something ranks #1 in the recipe carousel, but not rich snippets, does it matter if you make changes to the recipe card?

I think you mean “ranking in carousel” as opposed to the “organic rankings.” Both use different algorithms. Your goal is to fill-in as much data as you can and focus on making the post the best it can be.


Question 30

What’s your opinion on H2 should be one word. Instructions, ingredients, storage, variations etc as in Foodie PRO blog template. I love it and the advanced jump to looks clean, but what does Google think?

Google doesn’t care. They will still show a Jump Link that has multiple words. If your question is “will you get an advantage for having one word in your H2s for jump link consideration” the answer is no.


Question 31

Can you just repeat the plugins/tools to use for analyzing competitor posts for internal links and alt tags?

A full list of tools in the transcript and in the post content itself.


Question 32

What’s the best way to track your ranking for your top keywords over time?

You can use Search Console or you can use the Keyword Tracking in SEM Rush or you can buy a ranking checking tool. There are a lot of options out there.


Question 33

How important is image size on your blog ranking and getting on Google Discover?

Is it worth going back to old posts and re-exporting photos to the proper size or is that not a good use of time?

To get a *large* thumbnail in the Discover feed, you need to have at least one image in the post content that is 1200px wide.


Question 34

Casey, do you recommend using the content assistant in Keysearch and using all the keywords they recommend or would that lead to keyword stuffing?

I recommend you take the “Cooking With Keywords” course that covers the Content Assistant in more detail. And no, you cannot and should not be optimizing for ALL those keywords. It will look unnatural in your content.


Question 35

When it comes to establishing EAT vs keyword volume… what is more powerful when building out a recipe portfolio. Three broccoli recipes or one each for broccoli, carrot, and potatoes the main ingredients (as an example).

EAT is not tied to “individual” types or recipes or “how many recipes you have of something.” It’s tied to your expertise across ALL content. It’s tied to how users link to you. It’s tied to external factors and how you are viewed as an expert. You can write 15 posts about “broccoli” and a guide linking all those recipes together but that won’t make you a “EAT” expert on broccoli. That’s not how it works.


Question 36

To get some traffic (in French) I’ve had to use keywords that have nothing to do with my niche (for example instead of saying “gluten free recipe” I say “recipe without wine”). Should I be concerned about not attracting the right kind of people through SEO? I’ve seen my bounce rate going up and my average session duration going down ever since I’ve added keywords

Translated content is treated differently than English content. But obviously you should be focusing in on keywords that are related to your niche. That’s just the best practice for short and long-term gains.


Question 37

Thoughts on Rank IQ?

Some people like it.


Resources & Links

Below are links to all tools, articles, and other resources mentioned in this webinar:

  1.  SEO For Publishers Over Optimization Recap – Webinar recap that highlights how to avoid over-optimizing content. 
  2. KeySearch – A keyword research tool that gives you multiple ways to find related, niche-relevant keywords.


Casey Markee (00:00:05):

We’re live.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:00:08):

Should I put the hammer away? Is this too aggressive?

Casey Markee (00:00:10):

Yeah, put the hammer away.

Andrew Wilder (00:00:11):

No, I think you should keep the ban hammer close.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:00:13):

The SEO hammer.

Casey Markee (00:00:14):

The SEO hammer. Hammertime. Hammertime. Oh my gosh, we were just talking… What were we talking about? What’s going on in the world.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:00:24):

Look at all those people coming in. That’s fast. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that many come in that fast.

Casey Markee (00:00:29):

That’s right, look at all these people.

Ashley Segura (00:00:31):

We are one minute late so [inaudible 00:00:34].

Casey Markee (00:00:34):

We want to thank you all-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:00:36):

Just one minute late all the time.

Casey Markee (00:00:36):

We want to thank you all for lowering your standards and joining us today on this call, where we’re talking about everything from [inaudible 00:00:46] dying tragically at age 61 today, God rest his soul. Rest in peace, very funny guy. We can update, he will be missed. To the fact that my cat has now developed a talent of climbing up our screen doors so that if he can get to the very top of the screen door, push it and then jump out the top. So he’s a dick. It’s been fantastic. Cats are just delights and so we’ve been running after him in the backyard for a while now. It’s good times. Good times. So yeah, no screens anymore. We are not going to have any more screen doors in the Markee mansion, those are done. We’ll see if he can do that.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:01:28):

Just going to live with the flies and mosquitoes.

Casey Markee (00:01:30):

Just going to live with the flies and mosquitoes, it’s fine. It’s all good. [inaudible 00:01:34] was like, “We’ll give him a cattery,” and I’m like, “No, I’m not going to reward him for terrible behavior.” So good times.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:01:42):

Just build a balcony.

Casey Markee (00:01:43):

Build a balcony.

Andrew Wilder (00:01:46):

You need a water bottle.

Casey Markee (00:01:47):

Jan’s telling me that I need a water bottle, squirt that bad behavior. He doesn’t care. Matter of fact, one time I was drinking vodka and he swipes the glass and next thing I know, he’s licking the vodka off the floor, so I mean, what can I do but give him a high paw five. Paw five for that.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:02:09):

We have three cats and we used to spray them when they would misbehave and then one morning we woke up and they chewed the nozzle off of the spray bottle. Their revenge on the spray bottle.

Casey Markee (00:02:21):

Yeah, good times. Good times. Yes my cat is totally ripped through… Looks like that’s very common. But yeah, good to go. We have two cats. We have Ziggy, who is the older of the cats. I believe he’s 11 or 12. He just showed up in our garage one day. He just walked into the garage and said, “Hey, you know what, you have a nice house with lots of room, I’m just going to stay.” And he just stayed. We find out that he was being abused. He had a broken tail, so when someone came around looking for him, we basically just feigned ignorance and said we’d never seen a cat in our life, get off our property. And he’s been a Markee ever since. He’s like a dog. He’s not scared of anyone. He’ll go around very nice.

Casey Markee (00:03:02):

Then we have our second cat, which is Peanut. They’re both Maine coons and Peanut’s literally like a small dog but he’s scared of everyone. He only comes out when the dogs are outside. So we only see him maybe 90 minutes a day, if we’re lucky. He’s very funny. Comes out at night. That’s when he goes around. So yeah, do your cats like bacon? Yes. Not kidding. The cats will eat anything, honestly, but both Peanut and Ziggy love bacon. Their favorite food though is unfortunately prime A cut ribs, which are a little expensive sometimes. So, you know, that’s good times. They’re both terrible because if we don’t buy a specific type of pâté cat food, they will literally just knock it away and they’ll just sit there and they’ll look at Tiff and then they’ll look down and then they’ll look at Tiffany and then they’ll look down and then they’ll just leave and then they won’t eat. It is hilarious.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:04:01):

Done with you.

Casey Markee (00:04:01):

They’re done with us. Good times. So enough of my cats. What else is going on? Tell us everyone’s from Boston, London.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:04:09):

London, we have London.

Ashley Segura (00:04:10):

All over. We’ve got London, we’ve got Africa, we have-

Casey Markee (00:04:16):

Paula from Buenos Aires. Paula, good to see you, yes.

Ashley Segura (00:04:24):


Arsen Rabinovich (00:04:24):

New Zealand. You guys, we’re international.

Andrew Wilder (00:04:25):

Nobody from the moon yet though because I feel like once we get that, we’ll have arrived.

Ashley Segura (00:04:30):

Yes, we haven’t had the moon or Mars yet.

Andrew Wilder (00:04:33):

No Mars.

Casey Markee (00:04:33):

It’s coming. It’s coming. It’s fine. It’s all good.

Andrew Wilder (00:04:37):

Anybody currently on an airplane? That could happen.

Casey Markee (00:04:39):

Yeah, Mariana. We’ve had the Mariana Islands. That was pretty cool.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:04:42):

Oh yeah.

Casey Markee (00:04:44):

Yeah. Nice. I’ve been there, again. Fine. Whatever, it’s a long story.

Andrew Wilder (00:04:49):

San Diego is the only place that will accept you now Casey.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:04:52):

And that’s still questionable.

Casey Markee (00:04:52):

And again, my passport has expired so I’m literally trapped. So I mean, there’s that. How many people on the call have let their passports expire? It’s very common actually. We’ve been trying to get our passports renewed but of course as you know the wait’s ridiculous. Five to seven months now. Good times. So I can’t sneak across the border to Canada and get cheaper Twinkies or [inaudible 00:05:18] lager anymore. It’s terrible.

Ashley Segura (00:05:19):

I think you can still file, it’s coming out. Everyone’s getting their passport, it’s way quicker than what’s expected so it’s supposed to be getting better.

Casey Markee (00:05:30):

Yeah, Mr. Moore over here, T. Moore is saying, if it’s a Mr. If not, I apologize, he’s saying that it’s 18 weeks. That’s actually much faster than I was quoted and my wife’s a [inaudible 00:05:40] and even she can’t work the system to get our passports faster, so it’s going to be interesting. Yeah.

Ashley Segura (00:05:48):

Well it looks like we have pretty much everyone tuned in, so let’s go ahead and get started. Let’s talk about keyword research. Welcome everybody to the 14th episode of SEO for Publishers. [inaudible 00:05:59] we’re on the 14th episode.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:06:02):

14, wow.

Ashley Segura (00:06:04):

14, yeah. That’s pretty exciting. So by now, everything’s pretty much standard. For those who are new, a week after every episode, we publish a recap blog post and we copy and paste the Q&A in there. So we make sure to address all questions and get answered by these amazing expert panelists. By then we also publish all of the resources, a transcript and the replay. So if you don’t get a chance to copy all the links that are in the chat, if not, that will be published and sent out to everybody a week later. We are going to do Q&A at the end, which opens up to any kind of question that you have. And again, we do answer every single one even if we run out of time. So make sure and if you have a question throughout the webinar, to drop it in the Q&A portion on Zoom. It’s at the bottom of your screen. There’s a little Q&A box. Click that and you can submit your question. If it’s in the chat, we will try and see it and address it but if you want your question guaranteed answered, make sure you put it over in the Q&A. And without further ado, let’s get started talking about keyword research. So Arsen, what the heck is keyword research and how does one research keywords?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:07:20):

Well okay, keyword research, that question is kind of silly, right? We all know what keyword research is by now and if you don’t know, sucks to be you. Keyword research is a process where you identify keywords or queries that people perform in order to find your content. And it’s kind of like the reverse or reverse engineering of what you want to accomplish with your content. You want to write content that will [inaudible 00:07:57] for specific keywords. So keyword research is a process of where you identify specific keywords that have demand from people or people who perform these queries as it relates to the content you’re writing. The research part can be done with different tools. You can use free tools from Google. You can use paid tools like Keysearch, SEMrush, [inaudible 00:08:23], anybody else.

Ashley Segura (00:08:28):

Okay, so Casey then, as a publisher, how often should you actually be doing keyword research? Is this, would you say, a high priority task that needs to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis? Where in the mini to-dos should a publisher prioritize keyword research?

Casey Markee (00:08:45):

That’s a good question. I would actually start by… I want to poll the audience because I am very curious. For those of you on the call, do you do keyword research on a daily basis? Do you do keyword research on a weekly basis? Is there a specific time you have budgeted in your schedule so that you can say, “Okay, I’ve come up with a couple of ideals. I’ve done an ideation phase for the month, now I’m going to set apart some calendar time to look into the keywords for these”? I could give you an answer that I tend to want to say that I think it’s different for everyone. Keyword research is a paramount part of ranking in Google. It’s very, very important. I think you could do keyword research every day or I think you could be like some people and just have a specific schedule where you budget maybe a couple hours of that, doing that maybe every week. Maybe you have a whole Saturday that you use every month but usually we’re probably touching keyword research at least daily for most bloggers, finding out what’s currently doing well for them, whether we’re tracking that information in Google Search Console or analytics.

Casey Markee (00:09:50):

I have a lot of bloggers who keep spreadsheets. I think that’s a great idea. The spreadsheets show you where you are on this day so that you can compare it for the last week or the previous six months. I’ve seen a lot of that recently and I’m all for that, even a brainstorming, multiple times a week. Whatever works for you. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer there.

Ashley Segura (00:10:14):

And Andrew, do you have any unique strategies that you specifically do when you’re doing keyword research?

Andrew Wilder (00:10:19):

Yeah, so I don’t do a lot of keyword research myself anymore because I’m not writing as many blog posts but I want to maybe take a step back actually and talk about what I did when I had my food blog that I started in 2010, so 11 years ago. The keyword research I was using was not complicated. I don’t know if SEMrush was even a thing yet. All these tools that people are already talking about, which we’ll get to in more detail but for anybody especially starting out, you don’t have to make this really complicated. I came up with a little trick that saved my butt and to this day, I have blog posts that are still getting tons of traffic based on this technique that I used. I had a series of blog posts that were all about healthy eating when you dine out at restaurants. I called it Menu Mondays and it was like healthy options at chain restaurants and so when I was trying to figure out what restaurants to write about, I would literally go to Google and type in healthy options at, and then I would look at the search suggestions that pop up below it and it said, healthy options at Panda Express, healthy options at McDonald’s, healthy options at Chipotle and I literally went through and I wrote a blog post on Panda Express and I wrote a blog post on Chipotle.

Andrew Wilder (00:11:31):

Google said, this is what people are looking for. It’s actually telling you. Now it’s not giving you lots of data about that. It’s not saying, this is not a competitive term or it’s a very competitive term or anything like that. But it gave me a really good list of ideas right away in seconds. To see if that still works today, I just did a search for gluten free chocolate chip and I stopped typing right there and in the drop down, it came up with gluten free chocolate chip cookies, gluten free chocolate chip muffins, banana bread, oatmeal cookies, gluten free chocolate chip cookies almond flour, gluten free chocolate chip zucchini bread, gluten free chocolate chip cookies calories, cookie dough, banana muffins. All of these things.

Andrew Wilder (00:12:14):

Because it’s really hard to rank now for gluten free chocolate chip cookies. That’s the first suggestion. There’s going to be a gazillion posts on it. But maybe there aren’t a lot of posts on gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough or banana muffins made with chocolate chip cookie dough. So you can start to go after some of the longer [inaudible 00:12:35] this way. So if you’re just getting started, I think this is a great way to keep it really simple and get some great ideas.

Ashley Segura (00:12:46):

Arsen, is it better to aim as you’re going through and doing keyword research rather than doing a strategy like Andrew said or going through tools, is it better to aim for keywords that have high search volume or keywords that are less competitive? Or is there a happy medium?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:13:02):

Right so you want to look at things like how competitive a keyword is also when you’re making that decision. A lot of tools will give you something called KD, keyword difficulty. It’s not really an exact science but it’s a good point of reference to get a feel for how easy or how difficult it would be to rank for keyword. A good rule of thumb is to go for keywords that have a decent search volume with a lower keyword difficulty. I don’t know, Casey, does Keysearch provide a KD? I haven’t played with Keysearch.

Casey Markee (00:13:37):

They do. Basically all the keyword research tools from Ahrefs to SEMrush to Keysearch have their own built in KD score, so to speak. So yeah, it’s different for everyone.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:13:50):

So I have clients who go after this whole quantity of keywords. They cover a topic in its entirety and that’s something that I’m going to touch on also as a big part of keyword research, is simply understanding the topic is that you’re covering. So it’s more topic research, not keyword research, that needs to be done first. But I have clients who go after a lot of keywords that don’t have a lot of search volume but have also very low KD or easy to rank for and they cover a topic in its entirety and they win because that one blog post ranks for a lot of keywords that are mid level or mid range in terms of volume. I also have clients who will go after really, really big keywords but those tend to be, obviously, much more difficult to rank for and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you just might not ever show up for those. So you want to approach it from a perspective of, is this keyword going to bring in a decent…

Arsen Rabinovich (00:14:55):

Obviously don’t spend time targeting keywords that have like 10 monthly searches as your primary keyword but do pay attention to keyword difficulty, even though it’s not an exact science, take it with a grain of salt, but it’s a good point of reference.

Ashley Segura (00:15:10):

[crosstalk 00:15:10] drops keyword difficulty in there because that’s one of the most popular questions that we got about this topic is, when it comes to keyword difficulty, is there a specific number or a specific level? Casey, are there any ranges that you would recommend trying to target when you’re looking at a keyword difficulty score? Especially with the variety of tools and how they name everything?

Casey Markee (00:15:38):

You know what, I think again this is one of those, it’s different for everyone. Anisha here had a very good question about, every keyword seems to be difficult these days, and it’s true because there’s never been more do it yourself and [inaudible 00:15:50] bloggers at any point in history than there is now and that has been, when we talk about difficult fields, it’s literally affiliate marketing, then food blogging. That’s how it breaks down. So it’s never been more competitive and so everyone’s trying to go after these keywords and we’re going to get into what the long tail is and what long tail keywords are in a little bit and what that involves but what I was trying to think of here is that, it’s okay to be frustrated, there’s a lot of people using the same tools.

Casey Markee (00:16:19):

There’s a lot of people going after the same keywords. What you’re going to have to accept is that there are not a lot of diamonds in the rough out there unless you’re really looking for the four or five or the six word phrases where, as Arsen said, many of those can be found but there’s not going to be a lot of keyword phrases. That’s why we want to really talk about making sure that we dial in maybe more of broad match keyword but you’re also optimizing the page with four or five, six other related long tail keyword phrases so that you can really start to garner 400, 500, 600 possible keyword matches on a sample recipe post, which is actually relatively common these days.

Casey Markee (00:16:57):

Google’s really doing a good job at pulling the regular, most posts these days from hundreds of very specific keyword phrases. It’s just a lot of it comes down to not giving up, to taking a course. We’re going to talk to you about that in a little bit as well. Finding a process that’s going to work for you. These tools are just guesses, whether it’s Ahrefs, whether it’s SEMrush, whether it’s Keysearch, they’re using a complicated series of factors including difficulty and your domain authority, which, domain authority can, don’t get us started but it’s a good, loose metric for comparison purposes. I think it’s great. I think it’s fine to use that for keyword research. We just literally wouldn’t use it for anything else. And it’ll give you an idea of how possible it is to rank for your keywords.

Casey Markee (00:17:46):

I think what bloggers fail to understand is that I can have three domain authority 28 sites and all three will perform very differently based upon how the site is optimized, based upon the quality of the backlinks to the site and based upon the topical reach of the keywords we’re going after. So it’s just never a one size fits all. [inaudible 00:18:05], who’s a vegan blogger, very competitive. Much more competitive than other niches. I’m going to have a hard time ranking for a vegan and a gluten free query than I might for someone who is strictly just a carnivore site or maybe someone who’s a dessert blogger. Maybe I’ll have more leeway to rank for the dessert blogger than I would. So it’s not an apples to apples thing, unfortunately. It’s complicated to say the least. We get your frustration, for sure.

Ashley Segura (00:18:39):

In your example right there, the vegan blogger to the dessert blogger, is that more so because of traffic? Is it because of what people are searching for?

Casey Markee (00:18:51):

Well, I think it’s two reasons. Number one, there’s more vegan and gluten free bloggers than ever before, and I say that just because I know based upon the break down of bloggers coming to me for audits, just to use last year as an example, I think I had about 270 audits on the book, possibly less than that but around that number and by far, almost 40, 45% of those bloggers were vegan or gluten free and then there was a small drop off after that to dessert bloggers. Then I had another section below there of Indian bloggers. I put all the Indian bloggers in one group. But it’s a very interesting breakdown of what we’re seeing and there’s substantially more competition in those niches, making it more difficult considering they’re all going after the same baskets of keywords.

Ashley Segura (00:19:39):

So it’s a mix of traffic and competition.

Casey Markee (00:19:44):

It is.

Ashley Segura (00:19:45):

Andrew, taking a step back, aside from researching for keywords, how can you find out what kind of keyword you’re currently ranking for?

Andrew Wilder (00:19:56):

Well the easiest way to do it is to search for the keyword and see if you’re ranking. So if you’ve been targeting a keyword like how to make vegan steak, I’m going to mash it up there, search for it and find your post. If you’re doing it on a desktop, open up an incognito window, keep in mind that’s desktop search results but pull out your phone, open a private browser window and just try the search. That’s step one is just actually do a search. It’s amazing how few people actually do that, so I kind of wanted to mention that as a reminder and then Search Console is a great tool. If you look at the search performance section, you can really drill down. It’ll show you what keywords you’re performing for. If you click on that, you can filter the list. So you can really see what your rankings are from there. You’re going to the source then. Anisha just asked if incognito results are different from desktop and mobile.

Andrew Wilder (00:20:52):

So desktop results are one bucket and mobile results are another. Google treats those totally separately and the reason I say to open an incognito window is because Google also factors in you when you search, or whoever is searching. Google is the ultimate stalker, so they’re going to take whatever information they know about you to try to get you better search results, so all of the sites you’ve visited where they’ve tracked you, that’s going to factor in and they know you spend a lot of time on your site, so that’s going to skew the results for your site. So if you open an incognito window, that doesn’t solve it but it helps mute the effects of that so you get a slightly more accurate, generic search result.

Casey Markee (00:21:28):

Now Andrew’s given you a very simple strategy to find that. But you’re going to find that, for those on the call who are looking for most of your rankings or refining where you’re triggering your keywords, your Search Console should be your first visit. So you’re going to go to your Search Console. You’re going to go to the last 90 days and you’re going to just sort by query and you’ll be able to see literally all of the keywords up to 1,000 that Google is returning for your site. It’s a lot of information and for most bloggers on the call, that’s going to be more than enough. Now we can also link your Search Console to your analytics and get even more data by doing that or you can go over to SEMrush, I know a lot of you on the call have memberships to SEMrush, SEMrush allows you to track several thousand keywords a month at their smallest plan and you can even track 700 plus keywords for free in many aspects so you’re able to see what the general visibility is for those keywords. Just understand that about 70% of the keywords you’re going to find at SEMrush are on pages 3 to 10, so they’re not really helping you but they’re there, so it provides a visibility metric for you to take a look at.

Casey Markee (00:22:28):

I know a lot of bloggers who confuse, “Oh my gosh, it’s May and I’ve got 2,400 keywords,” and then there’s an update to the database and, “all of a sudden in June, I’m down to 1,700 keywords and I didn’t experience a loss of traffic.” Well, that’s because you never ranked for the 400 keywords that were taken away from the database. Those keywords moved from page 5 to 10 or page three to seven or whatever the like. So just understand, it’s how you interpret the data more than anything. Again, we’ll talk about that in a little bit with long tail keywords as well.

Ashley Segura (00:23:06):

And we understand for the most part how to find out which keywords you’re ranking for. Arsen, what if you’re ranking for a keyword that doesn’t exactly align with what you’d like to be ranking for and doesn’t really make sense with, say, the content that’s on the page. Is there a way to unrank yourself for that keyword? I don’t really know-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:23:29):

We should definitely make t-shirts that say unrank yourself. So look, Google has becoming really, really good at cleaning up the noise, right? So if you’re ranking for… We saw this in June, keywords that weren’t necessarily… Content, that wasn’t necessarily satisfying the keyword has been demoted or moved down and the content that was satisfying that query has moved up. There’s a few ways to look at this. If you were in lead gen, if your conversion was to generate a lead, this is a problem for you because you’re getting traffic from irrelevant sources and it’s not really converting. For a big chunk of you, you’re monetizing off of page views and visits. So when Google does this kind of a clean up, you start seeing declines in your traffic, but those declines are a byproduct of that traffic being useless. You are making less money because you are getting less page views. So it does hurt you in a way but there’s really no reason for you to go in and de-optimize yourself for a specific keyword unless it’s something that’s really, really weird.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:24:52):

And this question in general is kind of weird. We don’t see a mismatch that often anymore. I haven’t seen, unless it’s entity based, Casey right? Like somebody’s brand name, I haven’t seen in maybe a few years now, where there was a mismatch because Google’s just so good at mapping content to queries. So you might not need to unrank yourself but definitely be mindful, and this could also be potentially hinting at content issues. If you’re still at this point of time ranking for keywords that are not relevant to your content, something is definitely off with that but I don’t think it’s such a huge issue these days.

Casey Markee (00:25:43):

If I had typed in vegan diet and Casey Markee and I started to see results, I’d be concerned.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:25:49):

Right, you’re definitely hacked. You’re definitely hacked.

Casey Markee (00:25:52):

I’d know that I’d definitely been hacked, that Google has gone off the rails. It’s a sign of the apocalypse, so we want to monitor that very, very closely.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:25:59):

If you search for Arsen Rabinovich and you start seeing results for potato soup, something is definitely wrong.

Casey Markee (00:26:06):

It’s a problem. Something’s going on.

Ashley Segura (00:26:09):

So Casey, what about keyword variations then? Not necessarily the wrong type of keyword but what about keyword variations? Is it okay to have variations of a keyword like gluten free or gluten-free? Does Google still know that both are talking about gluten free regardless of the if the dash is there or if it’s spaced?

Casey Markee (00:26:28):

Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s not an issue at all. Google ignores hyphens, Google ignores underscores in many cases, that’s not a concern for the average blogger. It’s okay to have gluten free with the hyphen and gluten free without the hyphen and you’ll still be fine. Google figures all that out for you. That’s certainly nothing that the average user ever has to worry about.

Ashley Segura (00:26:51):

So even spelling issues? Say you spell-

Casey Markee (00:26:54):

No, I tell you, I would like… Specifically, when I’m reviewing article posts or recipe posts, I will spot misspellings and I will really try to impress upon the blogger that we need to fix all these because that’s an accuracy of content I can’t tell you how many [inaudible 00:27:11] and how many times Google has commented that accuracy of content is very important and that includes proper spelling and punctuation, but it’s also not something that you’re going to lose a lot of sleep over. But if I’m reading a recipe page and there’s six or seven misspellings on the page, that might be a sign of a deeper issue and I always want to bring that to the attention of a blogger so we can get all that stuff fixed. For those of you on the call again, Grammarly is a fantastic free extensive, I have it installed.

Casey Markee (00:27:38):

I also have SEOquake installed and it has a built in spellchecker, so I have both of those on. It catches a ton of things. Of course, you can start adding your own custom dictionary to that as well and it learns as it goes on. Very good. Reminds me of that old machine learning joke, Arsen. Machine learning algorithm walks into the bar and the bartender says, “What will you have?” And the machine learning algorithm says, “What’s everyone else having?”

Arsen Rabinovich (00:28:05):


Casey Markee (00:28:05):

And that’s the case.

Ashley Segura (00:28:10):

[inaudible 00:28:10].

Casey Markee (00:28:10):

Good times. Good times.

Ashley Segura (00:28:13):

So good. I’ll transition very quickly. Andrew, you have the same primary keyword on multiple pages of content, are you basically competing with yourself? Is there a way to see if you’re ranking for the same keyword across multiple pages?

Andrew Wilder (00:28:31):

So I tinker around actually looking in Search Console and you can see it in there. So if you filter by the keyword, it’ll reload the page showing only the result for the keywords and then there’s the tabs at the bottom and you click on pages. If you’re ranking for multiple pages on that same keyword, it’ll actually show multiple URLs there. So you can get that information that way. Arsen and Casey, I don’t know if SEMrush can also do that or maybe-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:28:57):

SEMrush does this. They have the cannibalism. Added a new thing that gives you content cannibalism results in the [inaudible 00:29:06] tracker. You can also in domain analytics, when you click on the… Those of you who have been on calls with me have seen me do this, you click on, in domain analytics where you see all your keywords, you click on the actual position and it drops it down and then shows you a line graph, showing which URLs are ranking for this keyword for your domain and it’ll show you the different colors. But the best way, and Casey will probably chime in on this, is to look at Search Console when you filter to a specific keyword and then you click on pages where it shows you how many of your pages are being considered by Google for this particular keyword and then you can also see, based on…

Arsen Rabinovich (00:29:44):

Because at certain times, you’ll have two pages that are competing for the same position but based on the impressions, Casey, right? Impressions. Impressions per page, you’ll see which one Google is preferring the most.

Casey Markee (00:29:59):

That can be confusing because sometimes you’ll have one that has, this is a technical term, it’s called a shit ton and sometimes you’ll have a shit ton of impressions on a page but the page won’t do anything for you, so don’t get hung up on the impressions. Get hung up on the ranking. If I’ve got a page and it’s cannibalized another page but it’s getting 2,000 impressions, most likely it’s because that page either is very poor converting or it’s stuck back on page six and seven, so many I’m just going to redirect that page to something that’s ranking a little bit better and shares the same or similar keywords. Then we’ll move on to something else.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:30:35):


Ashley Segura (00:30:38):

Arsen, Casey touched on this a little bit before but when it comes to long tail versus short tail keywords, AKA, long keywords, words usually at least three words or shorter keywords, is one better than other when you’re searching for keywords that you’re trying to rank for, should you aim to go with long tail because sometimes it’s more competitive? Or is it really dependent on factors?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:31:07):


Ashley Segura (00:31:09):

[inaudible 00:31:09].

Arsen Rabinovich (00:31:09):

Well it does depend on lots of things. The answer is both, short and long tail and this is where I touched on this before, this all comes down to topic research, really understanding what you’re covering. When you’re researching topics, you get an understanding of what kind of queries, long tail or short tail queries are relevant to that topic. That also opens up a whole new level of things for you where you’re now able to answer questions, you’re able to understand what people are searching around as subsets of queries to your primary keyword. SEMrush has a topic research tool. I think there’s also answer the public, right? Is it answer the people?

Casey Markee (00:31:53):

Answer the public but I’ll be honest, the answer the public really has fallen out of favor.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:31:59):

Really? I haven’t used them in a while.

Casey Markee (00:32:02):

Probably, and this is not news for a lot of people on the call, they’ve really tightened it down, I mean unless you’re in the UK, there’s not a lot of usability out of the tool anymore. It’s still mostly for UK. So hey, if you’re on the UK, a great tool, but the rest of us-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:32:16):

So SEMrush’s topic research tool, they have a visual representation for the topics. They’ll give you other topics that are closely associated with the main topic, so if you’re writing about potato soup, it will put potato soup and then it will tell you, broccoli potato soup, sweet potato soup, bacon potato soup, and they’ll give you all of the questions surrounding the topic of potato soup and by looking at that, you’re able to already figure out for yourself, if I’m going to write about this particular topic or sub-topic, here’s everything that needs to go into it and then your topics can become keywords and then you can drill into those and start creating sub-topics, so you’ll get both long tail and short tail keywords out of that.

Ashley Segura (00:33:01):

Casey, in a long tail keyword, does Google see it as only the whole phrase or can you actually rank for parts of the phrase? If you have like five words and two of the words are really popular, can you still rank for that or is it only looking at the whole phrase?

Casey Markee (00:33:16):

That’s a good question. I would say that honestly, Google does both. Google looks individually and Google will also look uniformly at all the words that make up the phrase. Let’s talk a little bit about that because a long tail keyword phrase doesn’t actually mean the keyword is made up of three or four phrases. The term long tail actually refers to where the keyword falls on a traditional search demand curve, meaning at the long end, where the less popular, lower demand keywords fall. So for those of you on the call, that might be news to you, but again, these things get switched up over the years.

Casey Markee (00:33:49):

So a long tail keyword phrase could mean, yeah, it’s got more than one word in it but honestly the whole point of that was because we’re trying to find keywords that fall off on the demand curve and those long tail keywords could just be one word. Absolutely. Doesn’t have to be more than one word. So when we’re looking at these long tail keyword phrases, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to find those that are most relevant to our business but we want to rank not just for parts of the whole, but we also want to rank for the generalities as well. So I think we have a lot of recipe bloggers on the call, a good example would be oatmeal cookies. Oatmeal cookies was a very popular keyword phrase with 110,000 searches a month. I’m responsible for about 15,000 of those searches myself, especially the oatmeal cookies with bacon, which I’m trying to get popular so more and more people make those.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:34:43):

Are those actually a thing?

Casey Markee (00:34:45):

They will be a thing after this call because I’m hoping to spur some searches.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:34:50):

You’re putting it out into the world.

Casey Markee (00:34:50):

I’m putting it out into the world there.

Ashley Segura (00:34:51):


Casey Markee (00:34:52):

So that’s a very popular keyword phrase, oatmeal cookies, 110,000 phrases a month. Whereas oatmeal cookies with apple sauce, it’s less competitive, has about 1,800 searches a month but they share the same results and you can actually rank, there’s lots of bloggers who are ranking for oatmeal cookies with apple sauce that aren’t ranking for oatmeal cookies but there’s a lot of people ranking for oatmeal cookies and they’re also ranking for oatmeal cookies with apple sauce. So there’s a lot of overlapping results. That’s a great example of where, no, you do not have to target just one keyword phrase to rank for everything. You can rank for the individual phrases as well and that’s very common. We want to go after those long tail keywords whenever we can.

Casey Markee (00:35:39):

Ahrefs has one of the better articles on long tail keywords, including the search demand curve and I’m just going to go ahead and paste over. What I’m pasting over today is just a graphic and the graphic is just going to explain a little bit about the concept of long tail keywords because I think it’s confusing to a lot of bloggers on the call who think that a long tail is basically just a keyword that has more than one word and that’s actually not the case in most situations.

Ashley Segura (00:36:13):

Andrew, aside from if we’re trying to do a mix of long tail versus short tail keywords, is there a specific number or density, amount of times we should be including that keyword within a post? Is there a rule of thumb that it needs to be, in a 500 word blog post, at least 10% of the time?

Andrew Wilder (00:36:36):

Everybody wants to know the magic number, right? So I’m going to dodge that and say, not it depends but, what’s my other catchphrase? Think of your reader.

Casey Markee (00:36:47):

It’s a good one. That’s coming out on a shirt too. Think of your reader.

Andrew Wilder (00:36:52):

If you keyword stuff and you put too many keywords in, it’s going to look unnatural. Google penalizes you for that. So you want to put your keyword in places where a human would use it. There are some important spots like putting it in your post title and in some of your headers but you don’t want to overstuff your headers. So it should be natural. You need to use the keyword enough that Google knows that this is what you’re writing about but it should not be so much that it sounds unnatural. There are penalties if you go too high. Casey, I think we were talking about this like, if you’re above like 3%, that’s probably too much. So if you’re in the 1 to 2% range, you’re probably fine but really, really don’t go by the percentage. Don’t make this a mathematical thing. Make it a human thing. You’re writing for humans, you’re not writing for Google. Just remember this. [crosstalk 00:37:40].

Casey Markee (00:37:39):

Yeah, let’s talk about that because again, [inaudible 00:37:42] said no more than 1.5%, I think even as low as 1.25. Yeah. It’s totally fine. I mean the thing to understand about the keyword density is that we can give you a number but it’s kind of useless in the scheme of things because optimal keyword density differs from page to page and phrase to phrase. There might be some queries out there, and I’m looking at them right now for the apple pie field where literally, they’re a 3% plus for apple pie a la mode searches and they’re ranking all over page one but they also have dialed back some of the optimization over optimization we’re seeing in headings and that’s helped. Keyword density is one of those things where it’s incredibly hotly debated in the SEO world. There is no one size fit all for keyword density. It’s whatever we can show as demonstrating a positive ranking improvement. Usually for optimal keyword density it’s going to, again, differ from page to page. We want to write naturally and include the keyword phrase once or twice on a page, naturally.

Casey Markee (00:38:44):

We want to avoid demotion in Google by avoiding repeating keyword phrases and content over and over. Google even has a… The only time that Google really even talks about keyword density is in the concept of irrelevant keyword phrases on a page, and I’m going to go ahead and paste over the guideline here, so everyone can take a look at that when they can. With regards to keyword density, when we say something like, guys, especially for recipe bloggers, guys and gals, maybe we want to dial things back if you have suffered ranking losses and you’re looking at your SEOquake or you’re looking at another add-on and you’re seeing that your keyword phrases over 2 or 3% and that query on that page has been negatively impacted, then we absolutely want to dial that back and we know, based upon the November 2019 Google update, and this is from the food bloggers study that Arsen and his team released in January 2020, that there was a significant increased correlation linking bloggers who are negatively impacted by that update, to the practice of keyword over-optimization by means of excessive keyword density numbers and stuffing their headers with keywords.

Casey Markee (00:39:59):

Those are just relations that we found as we went through all the data here. For those of you who haven’t read that study, by the way-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:40:06):

I’ll post it in a second. Oh, you’ve got it?

Casey Markee (00:40:09):

I got it right here. I’m going to post a link over here. It’s well worth your time. It’s an easy read but… Just an easy read. Arsen and his staff wrote it, so there’s lots of cartoons and little stick figures. I mean, honestly, you probably could’ve done a little bit better job but it is what it is, it’s fine. But-

Ashley Segura (00:40:31):

[inaudible 00:40:31].

Casey Markee (00:40:32):

Yeah, right? Terrible.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:40:33):

Right in the feelings. Right in the feelings.

Casey Markee (00:40:34):

Right in the feelings. Right in the feelings.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:40:35):

Right in the feelings.

Casey Markee (00:40:37):

But yes, we have been finding that hitting the keyword density number of 3% plus, when I’m looking at stuff, not great. Not great. But just understand, keyword density is just one of many ridiculous metrics that you should be looking at on the page and you should always be going into Google looking at the query and looking at the top 15 to 20 results and using something like SEOquake to compare multiple pages at one time and see what their breakdown is. That’s usually very helpful.

Andrew Wilder (00:41:04):

Also keep in mind that keywords can be used in other ways than just on the page. If you are doing internal links, this is an important post that you’re linking at the top of your category page, the text you link with is important. It’s not quite as critical as it used to be in terms of exact words you link to but you don’t want have the text be click here, you want Arsen’s potato soup recipe to be the clickable text. So you’re sending a keyword signal about that page, without that being part of your keyword density factor. So there’s lots of other factors here at play. It’s not just the actual words on the page on that one post.

Casey Markee (00:41:41):

And just very quickly here, Ashley, did you see that Beatrice posted over the, how come I’m ranking for this, easy French apple pie gastric bypass journey, according to Keysearch when I have never, ever used those words anywhere on my blog. Well I can actually tell you that probably pretty simply. That’s an incredibly long keyword phrase that has no search volume and no competition. It’s very possible that you have those made up, not even together but as separate links internally from other things on your site or just from links on the page or just individual phrases that are being pulled by Google to make a malleable, longer tail keyword. So yeah, people rank all the time for content that is not remotely on the page.

Andrew Wilder (00:42:28):

Who is searching for easy French apple pie gastric bypass journey?

Casey Markee (00:42:33):

Yeah, wouldn’t surprise me. The more unique the phrase, the more possible and probable it is that you could get a page to rank for it without even being on the page itself.

Ashley Segura (00:42:46):

I think they kind of go hand in hand in the long run there, Andrew.

Casey Markee (00:42:50):

You like that? You like that? That was good.

Ashley Segura (00:42:52):


Casey Markee (00:42:52):

It’s good.

Ashley Segura (00:42:54):

Okay, so we’ve covered long tail versus short tail. We’ve covered how to research keywords, how to tell what you’re ranking for, how to potentially unrank yourselves if you’re ranking for irrelevant keywords such as the one example that was just provided. Arsen, now we have a list of keywords like Casey mentions, some people keep it in Excel, some people just export from tools. So we have these keywords, we have this content that we’re going to create. What’s the best structure or recommendations as far as how to place these keywords in the content? All of you guys talk about over-optimization, the very fine line between optimizing and over-optimizing. So with keywords and adding them to your content, especially keywords that you want to rank for, do you need to have a keyword in the title, the meta-description, every single heading? What’s the proper structure here?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:43:49):

Right, so the first thing I’m going to say is, the first thing you should do is actually go to Google and put in that keyword, put in that query and see how Google handles that result. Again, keep in mind that it’s machine learning and it’s learning from something and that something is the top results on page one, because Google has done the measurements and understanding of what the person who’s performing that query is looking for, what kind of content type, structure, composition, saturation of keywords, where the keywords should be placed, is the best possible outcome for those rankings. What’s going to help the user the most? So that’s the first thing we do [inaudible 00:44:37] rank, we look at the search result. Then we look at who is actually ranking there? So you don’t want to compare yourself to Amazon or Allrecipes or Food Network because they can get away with stuff that you shouldn’t be doing. Look at other bloggers who are going to be essentially your competition for this keyword. Look at their title, look at their headings. See how they’re utilizing keywords, keyword variations. Look at their paragraphs, see how they’re structuring their content. Are they prioritizing instructions and ingredients towards the top and then how to store alternative ingredients, variations and all of that towards the bottom? Or are they explaining what the dish is at the top and then providing…

Arsen Rabinovich (00:45:21):

So the composition, the structure, the order of your content. Then take a look at their headings, their links. It’s going to be hard for you to figure out what their internal link structure is. Internal linking, what Andrew just touched on, that [inaudible 00:45:37] text, it’s a fairly strong signal. It contextualizes things-

Casey Markee (00:45:41):

Actually SEOquake, the add-on, the SEOquake add-on-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:45:44):

They do that?

Casey Markee (00:45:45):

… allows you to look at the internal links on any page. Boom, really simple people, it’s free. Just pop the page in there and look at the internal links on the page, see what you see.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:45:53):

Right. There’s also plug-ins for Chrome like SEO Minion that will tell you what the headings are. They will tell you what the alt text are on the images and all that good stuff. Take a look at what those top ranking sites that are similar to yours and what they’re doing and then be inspired by them. Don’t copy them. Be inspired by them. Obviously you want to have your keywords in your title. You’ll want to have your keyword in your H1. You want to have your keyword in your meta-description. It’s not a ranking factor but still a good practice to do that. But definitely don’t over-saturate unless you see that other ranking sites, they also have like Arsen’s potato soup as the H1 and then, how to make it, so you can say how to make it or how to make this potato soup or how to make Arsen’s potato soup, or Arsen’s world famous potato soup. All of those variations where they’re either partial match or exact match to the keyword, take a note of that and then compose your content based off of that.

Casey Markee (00:47:04):

Just [inaudible 00:47:04] has a very good point here. Again, it’s very important to understand that Google is not a fair player. Fair play is not in their vocabulary. If you go into Google, usually the top five results will be horribly keyword over-optimized because especially for very competitive queries they have, again, this is an actual term, a shit ton of off-site factors going in to help them rank and that off-site factors easily include huge topical authority, it usually involves lots of external links and that will overcome poor on-site page optimization so you can’t say, “Casey, I’m trying to rank for this apple pie or potato soup and every one of the posts that are above me has potato soup in every one of the titles.” Usually it’s the top four, if that and honestly, it doesn’t matter if you do that anyway. You’re not going to outrank them because they have other factors going on and I know that’s tough for you because you don’t see what we see when running an analysis on the page in the background. So just don’t get pulled into that cycle. Don’t get pulled into thinking, I need to include Arsen’s potato soup in every heading because I want to rank for Arsen’s potato soup.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:48:20):

You keep saying it.

Casey Markee (00:48:20):

Yeah, I’m putting it out to the world. Alexa’s right behind me. Alexa’s right behind me so it’s done. It’s a done deal.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:48:27):

Keep saying it. Keep saying it so that-

Casey Markee (00:48:29):

Google Now is listening. It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be trending.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:48:32):

I think we’ve mentioned potato soup in every single webinar. We’re on episode 14 right now. Every single webinar we’re mentioning potato soup. I think over time, when people search for potato soup or Arsen’s potato soup, top ranks SEO for-

Casey Markee (00:48:45):

Did we tell them the secret ingredient in Arsen’s potato soup?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:48:49):


Casey Markee (00:48:51):

I know there’s at least two.

Ashley Segura (00:48:55):

The hammer’s come out.

Andrew Wilder (00:48:56):

Arsen, you need to put potato soup in every H2 on your site.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:49:00):

Every H2. [inaudible 00:49:01].

Ashley Segura (00:49:03):

Yes. [inaudible 00:49:04].

Andrew Wilder (00:49:03):

I think to that point though, real quick, these sites are ranking well not because they’re putting that in all their H2s, it’s despite the fact that they’re putting it in the H2s.

Casey Markee (00:49:13):

Melissa, your question on those, most likely, you’re ranking because of factors that you cannot see, so if the rankings are good, don’t touch them. If they start to fall down then one of the very first things that we’d be looking at would be dialing back, maybe some on-page over-optimization practices that you yourself seem to think might be a little bit more than is necessarily needed.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:49:40):

Right, there’s no best practice right now that we can say, this is the blanket rollout to all of your posts. There’s not one specific template that you can apply. That’s why we say, look at the search results because a lot of times… Again, since mid-June, most of the calls I’m having during my consultations, I’m looking at the actual query and most of the time, the broader the query, the more confused is and it’s giving you a kitchen sink result where you see recipes, where to buy this, whatever dish that you’re making, videos, images and then some other information about it. It’s a result that limits based on content type even though there’s 10 results on that page, there’s only three recipes and those three are the most authoritative. So if you’re going to be targeting that specific keyword, you might want to rethink, you might want to go after maybe a variation of that, of that keyword, where you have all 10 results on page one are recipe results and not like shopping, maps, delivery options, Wikipedia with the history of what this dish is. Definitely look at Google first.

Ashley Segura (00:50:56):

Andrew, just to really-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:50:58):

Arsen’s [inaudible 00:50:58].

Ashley Segura (00:51:01):

… the over-optimization aspect, this is definitely something we see when we do a lot of content audits is a lot of over-optimizing in terms of keywords. Do you have any specific strategies or suggestions?

Andrew Wilder (00:51:14):

I have a great resource for everyone. It happens to be episode two of SEO for Publishers.

Casey Markee (00:51:21):

Over-optimization. The whole thing.

Andrew Wilder (00:51:24):

It’s been over a year since we did this one actually but I think [inaudible 00:51:27]. I’m going to post a link.

Casey Markee (00:51:28):

Very relevant, yeah.

Andrew Wilder (00:51:30):

Go back and watch that one if you’re worried about over-optimization because we talked a lot about that and I think you probably will hear me yell, “Think of your readers,” over and over in that one and a few mentions of potato soup as well.

Ashley Segura (00:51:44):

Of course. It wouldn’t be SEO for Publishers without it. So we have our final question and then we are going to open it up to Q&A. We have a lot of questions in Q&A so far. If you have not put your question in there, please drop it in there again, even if we ran out of time, which we definitely will, there’s 33 questions so far. So if we’re not able to get to your question and you would like to ask it, still drop it in there and in the recap that gets published next week, we’ll make sure it’s answered. Casey, to wrap up before we open up to the Q&A, what kind of keyword research tools, courses, any kind of further learning or any publisher that really wants to dive deeper and make sure that they’re doing things properly, using the right tools, using the most advanced strategies, anything that you recommend that’s available right now?

Casey Markee (00:52:37):

Well I’m all about smarter, not harder, and I find that one of the easiest keyword tools to use out there that has both an actual Google API and is just really simple to use, it doesn’t have made up metrics, is I know you’ve heard me talk about it, we’ve talked about it repeatedly in other webinars. I think it’s very good. If you like Ahrefs, if you like SEMrush, great, just understand that those do not have Google APIs, they’re using various algorithms, proprietary algorithms to determine what the competitiveness and content difficulty factors are, so they’re never going to rank or they’re never going to match. So we had an earlier question like, I have Ahrefs and I’ve got Keysearch and the data’s never going to match, nor should they because both of them are using different proprietary metrics to output those metrics. So you’re just going to have to go with one and feel like you’re comfortable with it. I personally like Keysearch. I do not have an affiliate relationship with Keysearch. I don’t have an affiliate relationship with any tools because I don’t think that it really helps anyone with regards to our recommendations but if you are going to use Keysearch, I think Aleka might actually be on the call today but I have found her Cooking with Keywords course very effective.

Casey Markee (00:53:58):

A lot of people, I’ve been recommended it in audits and everyone who’s told me about it really wishes that they had taken it earlier. So if you’re looking for help on Keysearch or if you want to make sure that you’re using the content assistant tool within Keysearch and you’re using all the options you have available within Keysearch then that course might be something that you consider taking. There might be other great courses out there, just they’re few and far between. Usually the courses are outdated and need to be updated. Use the tutorials. Ahrefs has a lot of keyword tutorials that will help you use their tool exceptionally well. SEMrush is the same way.

Casey Markee (00:54:39):

Arsen, Ashley, myself, you’ve contributed, what guys? 50, 60 webinars altogether, half the training… Seriously, we’ve been working with SEMrush for a long time. So if you want to go in, we think that they provide good resources. I just wish that it was a little bit more open on how they calculate keyword difficulty and the like because they can’t afford a Google API, they can’t afford the fire hose, so they have to use proprietary algorithms. They use a lot of click stream data, which is data they get from third parties to be able to provide the guesses for keyword research that you’re looking at. So that’s the difference, if you go in with your eyes wide open about that and not take necessarily the metrics at face value too much, you’ll be okay.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:55:28):

At the end of the day, it’s still just a point of reference. You have to count for seasonality, personalization, all of that. So it’s just like, I don’t think any of it is super accurate. I think it’s never going to be 100% accurate.

Casey Markee (00:55:47):

Go ahead Ashley, let’s get through these questions.

Ashley Segura (00:55:50):

Let’s open it up to Q&A, we only have a few minutes. But a lot of you have voted on questions and thank you for doing that because that definitely helps when choosing which questions to address here. The most popular question was submitted by an anonymous attendee. Question, when searching for keywords, most tools show a variety of ways to say the same thing, for example, chocolate chip zucchini cake and zucchini cake with chocolate chips. Do I need to specifically mention both within the post or will Google pick them up even if they aren’t worded exactly the way they are listed in the search tools? Casey, I think you touched on this a little bit.

Casey Markee (00:56:24):

Yes, they will. They’ll pick them up, let’s move on. Let’s try to get through as many of these as we can.

Ashley Segura (00:56:30):

Perfect. Angela, question from Angela, what should I do with old posts that I did no keyword research for? I’ve old posts with broad terms that I clearly will never rank for. Is there any way to update these posts and make them more specific now?

Casey Markee (00:56:44):

Absolutely. There’s nothing stopping you but you. As a matter of fact, if you’re on the call right now and you have a lot of this content, then I would stop publishing new content and I would immediately go back, take what you’ve learned from us, from these webinars and start just gutting these posts and re-publishing them. It’ll be like a new post to Google. It’s fine. You don’t change URLs, you just put in the new and better information and you go from there. You will be surprised at how much better they do once you dial in your keyword research.

Ashley Segura (00:57:12):

Great, 100%. Next question from Brooke, does using the Yoast FAQ block provide additional opportunities for keyword rankings and getting pulled for, people also ask.

Casey Markee (00:57:24):

I’d like to think so. That’s why I recommend it because again, if ever we include FAQ on a page, we want it marked up accurately and the Yoast FAQ block is constantly updated and it’s accurate. Now the issue is that Google will only show so many types of schema triggers for every page, so if you have a recipe post and you have FAQ schema in there, only on very specific cases would you actually trigger an FAQ because the recipe schema would override it. Does that mean you shouldn’t be using an FAQ block? No, as a matter of fact, Google recommends it. The only type of blocks you shouldn’t be using together are a recipe and a how-to block. That’s it. So as long as you’re not making that mistake, just continue to use the FAQ block. It’s also pretty and who doesn’t like pretty? Pretty FAQ block, wants to be taken to the dance, looks very nice, you want to continue to use those blocks whenever we can.

Ashley Segura (00:58:17):

All right, last question from Katie, Arsen’s this one’s directed to you. It’s a clarification question. I’m curious what Arsen was talking about earlier, as we all are, is there evidence that covering the topic extensively, such as specific ingredient like quinoa, give you an edge over the competition as far as ranking in that topic for highly competitive keywords on that topic?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:58:39):

Right, so if you put quinoa into Google search, you’ll see the search result and you’re going to see that Google gives you all kinds of information. Google gives you where to buy quinoa, what is quinoa, I guess the caloric count of quinoa, videos about quinoa, pictures of quinoa. That is the kitchen sink. It’s all things. So it’s covering that topic. What it does is, the reason Google does that is because you’re not refining your query. It’s very broad, so Google doesn’t know what you’re specifically looking for, right? So if we look at that and we want to rank for the word quinoa, we want to make sure that our content is going to be covering either all of that, covering the topic in its entirety, but doing that, you might not necessarily hit page one for quinoa, you will hit all other keywords that might be potentially related to quinoa that also have high search volumes. So when you cover a topic in its entirety, you’re exposing yourself to a wider variety of queries within that sub-topic and you’re going to see almost like a blossoming effect for that URL, for that document that’s going to rank for more and more and more keywords.

Ashley Segura (00:59:54):

Perfect. Thank you for clarifying that. So we are officially out of time. Have no fear, there’s 39 questions still there and we will address all of them. Thank you everybody for tuning in. Our next episode is going to be on October 5th at 2:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. For those tuning in around the world, totally appreciate you tuning in in the afternoon, evening, early morning, super late at night and everyone tuning in across the United States. Thank you so much for joining us, we will be sending out an email newsletter next week with a link to the recap as well as next month’s episode details so you can all register. So thank you Casey, Arsen, Andrew, you guys, amazing as always with the info, panelists, you’re awesome. Thanks everybody.

Casey Markee (01:00:39):

Thanks everyone. Bye bye.

Arsen Rabinovich (01:00:39):

Bye everyone.

Andrew Wilder (01:00:39):


About The Panelists

Andrew Wilder

Andrew Wilder is the founder of NerdPress, a digital agency that provides WordPress maintenance and support services for publishers and small businesses, placing an emphasis on site speed, stability, and security. He has been building, fixing, and maintaining websites since 1998, and has spoken on a wide variety of technical topics (in plain English!) at conferences such as WordCamp LAX, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Food & Wine, Techmunch, BlogHer, BlogHer Food, and Mediavine.

Andrew on Twitter >>

Arsen Rabinovich

Digital Marketer, SEO, International Speaker, 2X Interactive Marketing Award Winner, Search Engine Land Award Winner. Founder @TopHatRank, a Los Angeles based marketing agency that specializes in innovative digital marketing techniques for modern brands of all sizes.

Arsen on Twitter >>

Casey Markee

Speaker, writer, and trainer, Casey Markee has been doing SEO for 20+ years, has conducted over 1000+ site audits, and has trained SEO teams on five continents through his consultancy Media Wyse. He believes bacon should be its own food group and likes long walks to the kitchen and back while under home quarantine.

Casey on Twitter >>

Back to top