Whenever you hear any chit-chat around SEO, it tends to involve ‘keywords’. They get mentioned a lot and they are certainly an important aspect of SEO. But there’s more to it then just randomly selecting a keyword for a given post and then sprinkling it throughout the copy.
In this post, I’m going to explain how to use keywords for SEO in a way that will generate results. I’ll cover why keywords are important, how you find them and what to do with them.
First off, why is SEO important?
Before we delve into all things keywords, it’s important to highlight the importance of SEO. It can take a lot of work, so it’s good to know that your hard work is worth it.
A good SEO strategy means that your site is more likely to rank higher for relevant searches. Higher rankings means more visibility. More visibility means more click-throughs. And more click-throughs means more traffic.
Given that users arriving to your site have searched for a relevant query to get there, they are more likely to be an engaged user. They have already demonstrated their user intent via their search. This means that organic traffic often provides a higher quality of traffic than other channels, because users are usually more targeted and aligned with the content you are providing.
SEO is a huge topic with many aspects and nuances. Plus, it is constantly changing as Google updates its algorithms. But you don’t need to be an SEO expert or an uber nerd to engage with it. Start by taking some simple but effective SEO steps. Let’s start with keywords.
Why should you use keywords?
To understand how to use keywords for SEO, it’s first important to understand how SEO works.
The foundations of SEO are built on providing a useful experience for the user. All SEO practices are devised with this goal at the centre. Therefore, optimising each individual post or page is about working out what the content is offering to the user and how you can present this information to Google.
This is where keywords are important. When optimising a post or a page for SEO, you need to be optisiming it around carefully chosen keywords. Think of it as having a clear target; without keywords, you are optimising blind and with no strategy.
For more information on this, check out my post on why keyword research is so important.
Identifying and choosing keywords
The first step of the process is to identify the keyword or phrase that most relates to your post. You can have more than one, as long as it’s relevant and targeted.
It’s likely that you already have a good idea of the keywords it should target. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of the person typing a search term into Google. If you were looking for the information in your post, what would you type in to find it?
Once you’ve got a few ideas, you need to refine them and work out the best way of phrasing the keywords. This is where the keyword research aspect comes in. There are a number of free keyword research tools that will help you build on your initial ideas.
This process is important for two reasons. Firstly, it can help you identify keywords that you may not have previously thought of. Secondly, you need to take into account the search volume, to ensure that people are actually searching for the keywords you are trying to target. There’s little point in ranking number 1 for a keyword if no one is looking for it!
If you are choosing keywords for blog posts then be specific. I don’t recommend going after broad keywords which have huge search volume. Not that I don’t believe in your SEO ability, but the reality is that you are highly unlikely to rank well for broad search terms. Although more specific keywords will have lower search volume, they are far more targeted. This means you are more likely to rank higher and to get a better click-through rate.
How to use keywords
So you’ve got your keyword or phrase. Now what?
First off, you should be using one of your keywords in the title of the page or post. You should also be mentioning it throughout the post. However – and pay attention because this is important – do not overuse your keyword. You should not be sprinkling your keyword all over your copy left, right and centre. If it looks obvious that you’re trying to mention it lots for SEO points then you’re doing it wrong. This is called keyword stuffing and it’s considered a bad, spammy SEO practice.
Including your keywords in your posts should occur naturally. If the keywords are relevant to your post, then you shouldn’t have to work hard to include them. You also don’t need to include your keyword multiple times word-for-word. Use synonyms of your keyword to avoid repeating yourself. The search engines will love the use of synonyms because they are capable of understanding how keywords are related to each other. Perhaps not in human terms, but by using machine learning, the likes of Google are much smarter than they used to be.
If you find that you are struggling to include your keywords in your post or title then perhaps you need to rethink your keywords. Given that your keywords are supposed to accurately represent your post then it should already be in there.
Finally, include your keywords in the metadata of your post. This includes the meta title and the meta description. Your keywords should also make an appearance in the URL of the post. Just make sure that the URL is kept short, clean, and makes sense.
Keywords are a crucial first step in the SEO process. They are the all-important indicators to Google of the content in your post. This will ensure that your post reaches the right people, provides useful information and as a result, increases traffic and lowers bounce rate on your site.