It doesn’t do any good to publish content on your website if no one sees it. A great source of traffic to your site can be through organic search. Though, for it to work, you need to use SEO best practices to earn those visitors. Writing with keywords is the way for search engines to recognize your content as matching what searchers are looking for.
What’s a Keyword, and How Do I Find It?
A keyword is a word or phrase that best describes the content in a blog post or on a page. It’s what you want search engines to recognize the post or page for. That way, when people search for that phrase, they hopefully will see your post.
A more old-school way of thinking about a keyword is that it’s the word or words you would use to index your content in a book. It’s a way of organizing content so people can find what they need.
How do you know what keywords are best for a piece of content? In an ideal world, you hire an expert for SEO research. They identify what content and keywords will work best for your business based on how likely they are to rank in search results. The goal is to get your content on the first page of results since 75% of people never look past the first page.
If you can’t hire an SEO expert at this point in your business, don’t fret. You can learn the basics of keyword research and use keyword tools to perform it yourself. You likely won’t get the same results as following expert advice, but it’s better than nothing. Also, understanding SEO basics will help you make more informed decisions when you’re in a place to hire an SEO expert.
Understanding Google Rankings
While keywords are vital, they aren’t everything a search engine like Google considers when ranking your post or page. Google uses the E-A-T acronym to explain what it’s looking for in content.
- Expertise. The content comes from an expert, meaning it has someone’s byline on it.
- Authoritativeness. It earns backlinks. Others reference it in their content because it contains important information.
- Trustworthiness. The content is on a website with a positive online reputation.
Some of these things are a bit out of your control, but you can use keywords to ensure that Google knows what your post is about. Then you can have a name on everything you post. You also can encourage others to link to your posts by providing well-written, authoritative content. All of these things will help you gain trust.
When using bylines to showcase expertise, it’s essential that it isn’t just any name. For example, using your marketing director’s byline on your posts for a doctor’s office doesn’t give it expertise. Having the doctor’s byline on it does.
You also don’t gain authority by purchasing backlinks. In fact, Google strictly forbids it. Quick tricks are never the answer when it comes to E-A-T.
And, when it comes to keywords, they aren’t everything, but you certainly can’t rank without them.
Writing with Keywords
Now that you understand a keyword, how to find it, and how Google (and other search engines) use it, you must know how to write with keywords. There are certain places on each post or page where you want to make sure to use the keyword or keyword phrase.
Places to use the keyword:
- URL. Never go with the URL that’s a series of numbers. Instead, customize the URL (or install a plugin to do it automatically) to include the keywords.
- Title. Always use your keyword in the titles (page and SEO titles) on your page or post. Follow best practices when writing titles to encourage people to click on it.
- Subtitles. You should try to use the keyword or a variation of it (think: synonyms) in at least one H2 and an H3 if you use them.
- Intro. Use the keyword or keyword phrase naturally in the first paragraph of your post or page introduction. Be sure to work it in naturally. If it reads like it’s forced or awkward, consider whether there’s a secondary phrase or synonyms you can use. Not sure about writing intros? This post on writing catchy intros will help.
- Text. Use the keyword naturally throughout the post or page’s text, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want search engines to downgrade your content because they think you’re keyword stuffing. Consider using parts of a keyword phrase or synonyms too.
- Meta Description. The meta description sells the content, so you want to make sure the keyword is there. Here’s some help writing meta descriptions if you need it.
An easy way to ensure you’ve used keywords effectively is to install a plugin like Yoast that rates the usage and tells you where the keyword is missing. Also, don’t simply chase the green signal that Yoast offers. Know the best practices and remember to write for humans. If the light isn’t green, but you know you have taken the correct steps, then publish and don’t worry about the light.
A Word on Stuffing
There’s a fine line between using a keyword effectively throughout your content and keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is when you attempt to manipulate the algorithms into recommending your content by using the keyword excessively. It sounds unnatural and will backfire on you if search engines think you’re doing it. It causes them to penalize your site.
Plus, even if your keyword-filled page gets site visitors, they won’t enjoy reading your content. They’ll leave and likely won’t come back.
A good rule of thumb is to use the keyword once every couple hundred words. Try not to use your keyword more than 10 times in any post.
To avoid keyword stuffing:
- Only use the keyword where it sounds natural
- Use synonyms for the keyword
- Write longer content, so the keyword is a smaller portion of the overall word count
- Search for the keyword in your post and eliminate unnecessary references
- Use an SEO keyword plugin to rate your keyword density
The most important thing is that your text sounds natural. You generally know keyword stuffing when you see it. It feels like the writer is using the same phrase excessively and redundantly.
Content Journey Can Help
There’s a science to excellent keyword research and usage. If you want to use content marketing to grow your business but don’t want to hassle with the research, we’re here to help. Book a call, and let’s talk about how we can partner to deliver SEO-optimized content to help your business rank in search results.