The Truth About How To Use Keywords On Your Blog or Website
There is SO much differing advice I hear these days about keywords and SEO, some comforting, some terrifying, but the bottom line is that despite anything you hear keywords ARE important, they DO require work, and they SHOULD be present in every blog post or webpage. The good news is that while they require work, keywords aren't all that hard to figure out. Quality content = quality ranking; and when it comes to using keywords, that one simple tip will always be the core of what you need to know. There is a little more information you'll want to have before busting out the keyword search tools and trying to make your website rank, so keep reading to get a basic understanding for how to make keywords work for you.
First, let me get one hard truth out of the way:
There is no magic formula for getting your content to rank on search engines.
That's right. The truth is that keywords aren't magic, math, or anything else you've probably heard. You can't just count how many times you use a keyword and then when you hit a specific number, suddenly show up on the top of Google. The SEO fairy will not be paying you a visit anytime soon if that's the approach you take.
Second, let's get another misconception taken care of:
Keywords aren't hard to find.
The truth is that basic web searches can teach you all you need to know about what keywords might be appearing in your content. Find the words that stand out, are used most frequently, and are likely to be searched. Google autocomplete is awesome for this. Type a word like "photography" into Google Search and then start additional words one at a time like "portrait" or "headshots" or "minneapolis" and see what searches popup below as recommendations. There's also a super handy tool called Google Keyword Planner, that just might change life as you know it. It shows you the approximate volume of searches for any given keyword and let's you search related keywords, and generally win at SEO. And it's as simple as following their directions. You can also search keywords by looking at competing sites with good SEO and comparing their articles to one another, and yours.
Thirdly, and lastly, here's what you really need to know:
Good keywords will happen naturally when you create quality content.
The truth about what works in content marketing when it comes to SEO is creating content that is actually helpful and genuine. The more useful your content, and the more focused, the more you will likely use a repeating set of keywords in your articles. For example, in this article, "keywords", "SEO" etc are going to obviously occur OVER AND OVER again. But they aren't being used in sentences that don't make sense, or repeated in a short paragraph. They are used in a genuine context as part of an article that will (hopefully) help you understand how to actually implement and improve your keyword use for your blog or website. Writing longer, more in-depth content with a specific focus will get you where you need to go. And if it seems like the keywords aren't flowing naturally (you aren't picking up on a few repeat phrases or words that seem to go along perfectly with your title), adjust your title, topic, or writing to be more focused. Your title, display excerpt, sub-headings, and paragraphs should all be topical and matching.
So that covers the basics. But if you're like me and want a concise list of actionable steps (I mean, who doesn't?) here's how you can actually best find and use keywords for your website or blog.
1. Do your keyword research.
There's no shortcut when it comes to finding out about the topics you write about. The truth is that it isn't hard to find keywords, just time consuming. Scope out competing articles, and look up the recurring words in their content. As previously mentioned make use of tools like Google Keyword Planner and the autocomplete function in Google Search. I can make no better recommendation when it comes to content than to find an angle that hasn't previously been taken, and write your content to fill that gap. Research helps a lot with that. Find high volume keywords where the top ranking content might not accurately address all the information and claim your spot!
2. Make every word in your title count.
Your title is one of the most important parts of your content. Make sure it matches the the phrasing of what people are looking up, and that your content delivers exactly what you're promising with that title. If you came to this article looking for the truth about keywords and SEO, and instead read about how to design your blog - while you might still find the content somewhat useful, it wouldn't be the information you initially wanted, and that the title promised. Make 'em match.
3. Write longer content so keywords occur naturally.
Write MORE. Write until you can't think of anything else to add, then take a break, then add another few hundred words. Naturally recurring keywords and genuinely helpful content are much easier to create when you're hitting a higher word count. Aim for at least 1,000, ideally closer to 1,200 words. It will make a HUGE difference. Question - who can really inform about a topic in depth in fewer than 1,000 words? Answer - nobody. Even making a piece of toast can require more than 1,000 words of directions. And if you don't believe me, try writing a truly helpful article about how to make a piece of toast. Make sure to include information that discusses EVERY step including appliance you're using, settings, bread type, etc. For it to be a good enough article to help someone who has never made a piece of toast in their life, it will be pretty elaborate. And when we apply it to content as difficult as say, content marketing, keywords, or SEO - it suddenly makes sense why a 300 word article won't cut it.
4. Perform a keyword edit.
Another hard truth. You're writing is bad. Okay, so you might be an excellent writer. But even the best writers are nothing without a good editor. You SHOULD have someone else perform a full grammar check and keyword edit on your content. Probably multiple times. Make sure there aren't any pronouns where reusing a keyword would make more sense. And of course check for errors in spelling and grammar because search engines definitely don't favor those. Edit, edit, edit.
5. Be patient.
As you progress in your business these concepts will get a lot easier to grasp and follow, and keywords will become second nature to you. Keyword searches and edits become a basic part of writing, and your content becomes much better quality. Also, amazing rankings take time, so don't be discouraged if you aren't ranking on high volume searches for a while. I repeat, there is no magic formula or shortcut.
So there it is - the real truth about using keywords on your site. It's not as hard as it seems to be a keyword boss, but it does take work, time, and quality content. So get out there and start typing.