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February 7, 2018 (Updated: March 2, 2020)
SEO has come a long way since the early 2000s. Where it was once easy to rank websites on the first page of Google by shoving keywords into the bottom of a webpage, or throughout the text in an unnatural way, Google’s algorithm now respects and rewards sites with quality, highly-readable content. Abusing keywords is not going to cut it.
If you’re not sure where to get started when adding keywords naturally to content, as well as which sort of keywords to look for to make this simpler, check out our insider tips below. Good use of keywords in writing is closely connected to proper audience research, brand awareness, a professional approach to content creation, and, most of all, quality writing.
Understanding Long-Tail Keywords
One common SEO mistake is attempting to rank for short keywords. For example, consider a boxing gym in Portland, Oregon that is trying to rank its website with keywords like “boxing” and “boxing gym.” What happens, however, is that the site is too far below a number of other websites in Google, such as Wikipedia entries and local data-based business curation sites. This is why you should focus on longer keywords made of multiple words, referred to as long-tail. After all, someone who types in “boxing” or “boxing gym” may not necessarily be in the gym’s local area.
When you make your search terms something more specific and long, and something a potential customer would most likely use, such as “boxing gym in Portland Oregon,” “beginner boxing in Portland,” and similar ideas, you no longer need to compete with bigger websites. Long-tail keywords are like baited hooks guaranteed to snag some fish, while short, generic keywords are like casting big, unwieldy nets. Without massive marketing resources, the latter isn’t viable, at least when starting out.
How to Integrate Keywords Naturally
You don’t want to overuse or “stuff” keywords into the text, as it makes your content look phony and sets off some flags in Google’s indexing bots. Of course, you don’t want to under-use them either, so what do you do? Typically a keyword should appear not often enough to call attention to its frequency, and there isn’t a hard and fast ratio, although websites like WordCounter will show you how much a word or phrase is repeated. Also, make your pages, subheadings, and image captions naturally include the keywords you want, as that’s a free and easy way to add them somewhere other than the main text.
Start thinking about what keywords you want to rank for, and then think about the sort of articles or other written content you want to create that would allow those keywords to be used. If your site doesn’t usually offer the opportunity to produce keyword content, find ways to expand your site. For example, an artist who wants to get attention for his animation work could start making blog posts on his portfolio website that teach his insights into making quality animation. Such posts are a graceful opportunity to add search terms that a potential commissioner or animation talent scouter would use.
Plan Your Writing First
Image via Flickr by Thristian
Too often business owners and marketers worry about all the fine details of finding keywords once they’ve made their content. With that context, it’s easy for keywords to feel unnatural because they were only considered at the last minute. Instead, figure out the most worthwhile types of content for your audience and brand first, and then find keywords based around that content to create specific ideas. Instead of finding a worthwhile keyword like “buy cured meats online” and churning out a piece of website content based on that, think about your audience, your ideal customers, and what they care about.
Sticking to the example of an online meat seller, researching its audience might reveal that some customers wonder whether meats from a certain country are safe. This is great, because the business’ meats from that country are totally fine. With this insight in mind, looking up logical search terms could turn up a phrase like “is ham from (foreign country) safe,” and from there the business could post an article with this as the title, answering the question with plenty of opportunity to naturally include keywords and attract readers into purchasing.
More Content With A Tighter Focus
While it’s important not to stuff the same or highly similar keywords all in the same piece of writing, some businesses will take the wrong message from this advice, instead stuffing lots of different, relatively disconnected keywords all in the same place. General, broad content can be effective for warm traffic, but cold traffic generally only visits pages to solve problems or answer questions.
The best method is to make your content highly specialized, to the point, and designed to solve a particular problem. Ten different blog posts about specific problems customers might face will be collectively better appreciated than one huge blog post solving 10 barely connected problems. People search a question or specific term online because they want that, and only that, resolved in that moment. Satisfying their burning curiosity will lead to big rewards, so make content that exhausts one topic at a time and focuses only on a set of synonymous keywords.
Be sure that in addition to the tips we’ve provided above, you find a keyword research tool to help you research the best search terms for your website copy or content. Once you know how to use keywords in your writing and have a good method for hunting down the best ones, all you have to do is get that copy produced at the best quality possible.
Despite how much more complex SEO has become since the birth of the concept, it all still boils down to this: will the right people find this website, and will they like it enough to do business with you? Being able to answer these two questions with a resounding “yes” takes work, but it’s the start to a profitable and scalable online business. Be sure that you’re applying the best writing, research, marketing, and project management talent possible, either in your team or outside it, to get the job done.
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