Increase Your Blog Traffic With the Google Keyword Tool

Linda Aksomitis has a travel blog called

Linda Aksomitis has a travel blog called

We all blog about different things. Technical instructions. Writing tips. How-to tutorials. The one thing every blogger has in common, though, is that they want readers for their content. As they say, the more the merrier!

But it’s not always easy to get readers.

In my online class, Introduction to Internet Writing Markets, we talk in detail about readers on the Web, also called traffic. Web readers, or surfers, are traffic much the same way as cars and trucks, or traffic, that use a specific road. So, we can define traffic as the measurement of all of a website’s visitors.

Traffic comes to your blog in different ways. Direct traffic is all of those readers who have already discovered your website, so they type your URL into their browser’s address line or click on your blog link in their browser’s list of favorites.

Some people come to your blog through referrals from other sites or links posted on other people’s webpages. You probably have a blogroll yourself, where you post the links to some of your favorite sites. Or maybe you do guest blog appearances on blogs related to yours in exchange for a resource box with backlinks to your blog.

You might even advertise your site’s URL to get readers!

However, most bloggers hope that they’ll get a lot of traffic from search engines. Search engine traffic comes as a result of having your blog’s link appear high in a search engine’s list when a surfer enters a search query for the keywords on your site pages.

You may already be familiar with search engine optimization, or SEO techniques, that help your blog get good search engine rankings. Today I’m going to tell you about a free and easy SEO technique that’s often overlooked–targeting your keywords with Google’s Keyword Tool. [Note that Google’s Keyword tool was replaced with a Keyword Planner tool in 2014, which requires that you join AdWords to use.]

What exactly is keyword targeting? For most bloggers, it’s just a matter of finding out what keywords have the highest traffic and writing content using them. Content farms, however, have been doing a form of this for years by deliberately searching out and developing content around the most-searched keywords. Recently, though, they had a head-on collision with search engines, like Google, that are trying to improve the quality of Web content.

The good thing is that bloggers can use the keyword tool and still write the same high quality content they’ve always created.

Targeting keywords doesn’t have to be about identifying high traffic words and phrases and tossing off some short, quick blog posts on them. Rather, targeting keywords can help you carefully analyze your posts to ensure that you’re reaching the readers looking for your content.

Linda Aksomitis eating fried peach pie. Photo by Stacey Dickson.

Linda Aksomitis eating fried peach pie. Photo by Stacey Dickson.

For example, suppose you and your significant other have a monthly “date” for dinner in a nice restaurant, and you’d like to share your experience with your blog’s readers. You’ve written the article including the standard related keywords: restaurant, restaurant review, fine dining, and food stop.

You know that your post’s title is important in SEO, so you want to make sure that you select a title that will not only be relevant, but will also bring you in the most readers.

This is where Google’s keyword tool comes in.

First, generate a list of title options. Then, access Google’s keyword tool to check out both global and local searches for the keywords you’ve included.

Your results might look like this (stats from June 16/2014):

  • Great Food Stops — Global traffic: 8100; Local traffic: 5500.
  • Restaurant Review — Global traffic: 301,000; Local traffic: 135,000.
  • Fine Dining — Global traffic: 368,000; Local traffic: 201,000.
  • Restaurants — Global traffic: 55,600,000; Local traffic: 24,900,000.

If you’re targeting the highest traffic keywords, you may want to include just the single word, restaurants, in your title, rather than the phrase restaurant review. There’s a problem, though, because you like to assign titles that can be tweeted without adding any details to make it clear what the article’s about…

The easy way around that is to use the EM dash to separate different parts of your title. For example, you could write: City Guide–Regina, Saskatchewan–Restaurants.

You could use also City Guide as a category or tag to help organize your blog’s content, making it easy for your regular visitors to find previous articles they might want to refer to again.

So, the next time you get a post ready, do some research using the Google Keywords Tool to help ensure you’re reaching the audience looking for your content!

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Tips for Making Money With Your E-Books

Snocross, an extreme sports e-book by Linda Aksomitis.

Snocross, an extreme sports e-book by Linda Aksomitis. Distributed by Smashwords.

Well, the easy answer to how can you make money with your e-books is to write and self-publish a best seller! Okay, so maybe that won’t work for all of us.

Smashwords, the #1 distributor for indie e-book authors, recently published the results of their own study of what’s selling and making money from books listed with them. It yielded, as research usually does, some useful information for independent e-authors.

Some of the things they identified I’d already landed at just by my own knowledge and experience in the book industry. Research says…you got it…cheaper books sell better.

There were, however, some twists to the pricing game. You’d think–or I did–that books priced at $.99 would sell way better than books priced at $10+. On average, they did sell 3.9 times as many copies, which was good news, except to the writer who now only grossed $3.86 instead of $10 (at least).

Since these two price categories are generally in the same royalty percentage, that’s a pretty even comparison of earnings.

Hmm…most of us would like to optimize our potential income a little better than that.

And here comes another interesting twist. It turns out that books priced at $2.99 each sell about 4 times as many copies as books priced at $10. That’s a good thing, because now the author’s gross income isn’t so gross, as 4 x $2.99 is $11.96, which is more than the $10 base. Better yet, books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 often earn higher royalties than those priced eitherĀ  lower or higher (depending on the individual bookstore’s policies).

My own sales had actually told me the same thing, as I had upped the price of one snowmobile novel, Snocross, to $2.99, and left the older title, Snowmobile Challenge, at $.99 for the past winter season. Strangely enough the price increase didn’t change sales volume at all, but I made more money.

Smashwords’ stats, though, revealed another twist for them and for me. Books priced at $3.99 earned about 55% more than any other price point–what’s with that? Next to FREE, the top sellers were $3.99, and even stranger, books priced at $1.99 earned 67% less than average.

Me, I’d like to hit average, only that’s never really been something that came easily.

Book length turned out to be another surprise for me. Not that e-books can be measured in the traditional “pages”, but they can be measured in word count. (Smashwords list the word count of every book in their store with the rest of its information)

So how many words should an e-book have? The Smashwords’ research showed the top 100 sellers averaged 115,000 words each. Now, for writers like me, who write very lean, that’s not the greatest news in the world.

The lower the word count, says Smashwords, the lower the sales. In fact, they advise against breaking that 120,000 word novel into a trilogy of three 40,000 word novels, which is something I’d always recommended from a marketing standpoint. Go figure.

They do, however, say not to run up word counts with “stuff” that doesn’t need to be in the story. If the novel runs out at 40,000 or 50,000 words, then it’s time to stop and let the book find its own readership.

While their research didn’t include covers–some statistics I’d have loved to see–it did include titles. This time my propensity to make it lean worked in my favor.

Titles apparently, should be short. Those hundred best sellers on Smashwords had an average of 4.2 words in their titles. Titles ranking between 1000 and 2000 averaged 5.7 words. And at the bottom end of things, in book sales ranked from 100,000 to 101,000, the titles averaged 6 words long.

I guess the objective here is to make that title concise enough to grab the reader!

If you’d like to learn more about self-publishing your own e-books, just sign up for an online class with me! If you’d like more information on this data, here’s a slideshare from Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords:


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