So you have a blog and want to use it to build your online presence, keep in touch with an audience and ultimately grow your business.
Maybe you write about something you’re truly passionate about, or perhaps you run a business blog to connect with your audience and bring attention to your website.
Whatever the case, chances are you could use some help getting more ideas that will actually make an impact on the SEO of your blog.
You can always read about the basics of SEO for blogging to learn how simple web elements like title tags, links and keywords are so important.
The next step is applying competitive analysis and keyword research. By taking a look at search trends and popular topics among the other blogs in your niche, you can plan content that will bring people to your site and grow your reader base.
Below are four easy ways SEMrush can give you ideas that will actually bring results to your blog.
1. Identify the Blogs You’re Competing With
First you’ll want to identify your blog’s top competitors. The easiest way to do this is by using the Competitors report in Organic Research. You’ll be given a competition map with the top domains that compete for the same searches that your site does. For this blog post, let’s take a look at some gardening blogs, using gardeningblog.net as our example.
While this report doesn’t present you with blog ideas, you can look at your competition’s strategy to get ideas. So take note of your top competitors, or export the report to save the list for later. You’ll want to keep these competing sites for reference so you can compare your content to theirs.
2. Compare Their Top-Performing Content to Yours
Now that you have your top competitors down, take a look at what’s worked best for them. Run the Positions report in Organic Research to see the top search keywords that bring people to their blog.
You can select their link directly from the competitors report and then click on Organic Search from the Domain Overview. The table of keywords in this report will list the searches that are bringing the highest percentage of traffic to each website.
You’ll see the position your website holds for each keyword and how many average monthly searches the keywords receive.
Comparing your positions report with your competitors, do you see any differences? Look for terms that your competitor is getting traffic for that you aren’t. These are opportunities for you to target and get search traffic from.
You can also run the Pages report under Organic Research to see a listing of you or your competitors’ top performing pages on Google.
This table will list the URLs, what traffic percentage they contribute to the domain and number of keywords the page ranks for. Running this on your competitors will reveal what topics bring the most organic traffic to their site.
3. Find New Keyword Opportunities and Topics
Using SEMrush’s Keyword Analytics is a great way to find new topics that are popular and targetable in your niche.
You can grow your audience by appealing to more of the specific topics that people are searching for. The more specific the query, the more specific the searcher intent, and the better chance you have at knowing what they want and addressing that with your information. Longer, more specific keywords are generally referred to as “long tail” keywords in the SEO world.
Finding long tailed keywords as new topics on SEMrush is easy.
First, run a Phrase Match or Related Keywords report for one of your target keywords. Then, apply a filter to only look at phrases with at least three words to make sure you’re looking at longer, more specific searches.
These keywords will be listed by search volume and will have a Keyword Difficulty metric (KD) listed. Keyword Difficulty is an estimation of how easy it would be to rank a webpage for a search term in organic search results. This metric is on a scale of 0 to 100.
To make use of this metric, you can group keyword difficulty into three categories – below 60 (the easiest keywords to rank for), between 60 and 80 (average difficulty) and above 80 (most difficult to rank for).
Keywords with a KD score over 80 will take a lot of time and effort to rank for. Try to focus on some easier target at first.
Looking at the Phrase Match report for “growing vegetables,” we can see that easiest vegetables to grow, vegetables that grow in shade, and vegetables that grow well in shade all had KD scores below 80. These topics could all be targeted with a single blog post.
To get an even more focused list of search terms, add a Keyword Difficulty filter for "Less than 75" to the report as well. Now we're only looking at practical terms we can target.
Now we can see two more ideas in this report – vegetables that grow in winter and grow lights for vegetables.
That whole process of adding filters to a Phrase Match report takes less than five minutes and now we have five long-tail keywords that can be targeted by a blog.
Another great way to find ideas is with the new SEO Keyword Magic Tool. This tool is great because it generates groups of keywords in related topics, and allows for filters and exporting so you can save a master list of specific keywords you’re interested in.
The way it works is simple. Just enter your main keyword and you’ll see this report populate. On the left will be all of the groups where you can investigate more topics. Each topic will be a list of search terms that include your original query with the topic name. For example, all the search terms in the “shades” group will include both the phrases “growing vegetables” and “shade.”
To the right is the table where the keywords will be listed with volume, KD, CPC, Competitive density and SERP Features. Keywords with SERP features are valuable because they trigger unique results pages that give searchers information without having to click on any results.
4. Discover Guest Posting Opportunities
If you want to talk about improving the SEO of your blog, you’re gonna have to address the fact that YOU NEED MORE BACKLINKS.
But not just any backlinks. You need good, trustworthy ones. Ones that are real. Not bought for $5 on the internet. Not spam. And no link swaps. Google is smarter than that.
In the blogging world, guest posting can be an honest way to network and build your links.
The way a guest post works is you reach out to a blog in your vertical with a pitch to contribute an original article to their website. If you can pitch them on a trending topic that their website doesn’t currently cover, they’ll be interested.
An easy way to look for guest posting opportunities is making searches on Google. Backlinko’s “Definitive Guide to Guest Posting” article provides 40 search strings you can use to find your guest posting opportunities. Below are four strings from that list to get started.
- Your Keyword ‘guest post’
- Your Keyword ‘write for us’
- Your Keyword ‘guest article’
- Your Keyword ‘this is a guest post by’
On the results page you’ll have a list of opportunities to reach out to.
Next, what you’ll want to do is analyze these sites in SEMrush and see if you can identify topics on their site that they aren’t ranking well for.
Think about it from their perspective – they want to cover a wide range of topics to strengthen their website's SEO just as much as you do. If you can offer them a solution, they’ll be interested.
An easy way to compare these sites’ rankings is with the Domain vs Domain tool. To compare with more options, you need to go to “Advanced Mode.”
Go ahead and add your site with another one of the opportunities into the search bars. Before hitting “GO,” make sure that you are comparing Organic Keywords and select the venn diagrams between the domains to show “Common Keywords.” This will make sure the report will look for all the organic keywords that the domain have in common.
After you generate the report and see the common keywords, sort by your blog’s ascending ranks. What you can see here is identify the topics that your site ranks well for, and your competitors don’t. These keywords can be effective topics to pitch as guest posts.
Since you already have content ranking on your site, you’ll have a great starting point to write an effective guest post. Send the blogs your article pitch, mention the fact that you see their website doesn’t currently rank for the keyword, and explain that your post will help their site’s SEO.
Once they accept your offer, and you write your amazing post, ask that they provide a follow link back to your blog either in the intro of the post or in your bio in exchange for your work. A successful guest post will benefit the SEO of both of your sites by connecting relevant sources of information.
If you repeat this process and acquire good backlinks from multiple relevant and authoritative websites in your vertical, you’ll be well on your way to establishing a healthy SEO profile on your blog.
At the end of the day, blogs are about community, not competition.
So, try to build healthy relationships with the blogs that you respect in your vertical, not only to help your blog’s SEO, but also to build your reputation in your industry.
Do you have any questions about how to grow your blog with SEMrush? Leave a comment and we'll get back to you.