By Chris Christoff, the co-founder of MonsterInsights.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is now a basic skill that almost all bloggers and business owners know about. That said, most of them are still going about it incorrectly. As a result, websites lose thousands of visitors and potential customers.

We use SEO and content marketing as our main marketing strategy to drive conversions and increase sales. Here are some tips that we've learned throughout our years.

Explore Topics and Identify Blog Ideas

The first step in your keyword research process is identifying a topic to write about. Don't write articles based on a keyword search. After all, the goal of your blog is to provide value and information to your audience. A great place to begin this search is Quora.

Quora is a Q&A community platform filled with questions and answers posted by real users. The platform allows you to gain insight into what kind of topics your audience is really interested in. For example, let's say that you're blogging about web hosting. Simply search for the topic and you'll see plenty of posts related to web hosting. You can use these questions to create your own blog topics, like "The Top 10 WordPress Hosting Sites." Reddit is another great platform you can use to find topics. Similar to Quora,

Reddit also has subreddits for any topic you can think of. Browse a subreddit to find topics for your blog posts.

Make a List of Top Keywords

Once you've found a topic to write about, you can search for keywords related to that topic. Use Google Keyword PlannerEnter your blog topic in the Keyword Planner to see what kind of keywords people use to search on Google.

The key here is to find keywords with high volume and low competition so that you can easily rank higher on Google for specific keywords. Using Keyword Planner, come up with a list of suitable keywords related to your blog topic. For example, let's say that you're running a blog geared towards outdoor people and camping. You can write blog posts about "beach camping," "camping checklist," "RV campgrounds," and other highly searched keywords with low competition.

It's best to find long-tail keywords related to a niche for achieving the best results. Use a free tool like Ubersuggest keyword tool if you're finding Google's Keyword Planner too difficult to use.

Research Your Competitors

If you see one of your competitors ranking higher on Google for a keyword that you want to write about, you can also analyze the competitor's pages to find out what type of keywords they're ranking for. SpyFu allows you to easily research your competitor website and pages. Simply enter the URL of the website you want to analyze and SpyFu will do the heavy work for you. Scroll down to the "Top Keywords" section to see five of the top keywords the website ranks for. You can use these keywords to optimize your own blog post to beat your competition.

Write more in-depth blog posts to rank higher than competitors for similar blog topics. For example, if your competitor ranks for, "Top 10 Web Hosting Sites" blog post, you can create a post like, "Top 50 Web Hosting Sites" to outrank others. Google always give more exposure to high-quality content. To ensure your content performs well, focus on in-depth solutions to people's problems and write it in a conversational manner so it's easy to understand. Take a look at some well-ranking publications to see the types of articles that do well and emulate their writing style.

How to Optimize Blog Posts for Keywords

Now that you have a found the topics and the right keywords to optimize your blog posts, the next step is to use the proper strategies to insert those keywords into your blog posts. Here are a few practices you can follow.

  • Install Yoast SEO: Use Yoast SEO plugin to optimize your blog posts and pages with focus keywords, meta descriptions and enhance readability.
  • Optimize the title: Include your main keyword in your title.
  • Craft a better introduction: Include your main keyword once again in the first 100 words of your blog post.
  • Use subheadings: Include your secondary keywords in subheads and paragraphs.
  • Optimize the images: Use your keywords in the alt tags of the blog post images.

Even though keyword research help Google to discover and rank content based on relevance, Google also use smart algorithms to determine the quality of the content. So, make sure to craft quality content as well as optimizing for keywords.

It will take a while before you see your blog posts appear on Google -- anywhere from three weeks to six months or even more for Google bots to index and rank web pages. Until then, be patient and continue to publish great content on your blog.  

Chris Christoff is the co-founder of MonsterInsights, the leading WordPress plugin for Google Analytics.