Local Search, Marketing Infographics, Organic Search, , Search Marketing

How to Use Keywords Effectively for SEO and More

Search engines find keywords in different elements of a page and use them to determine whether or not the page should be ranked in certain results. Proper use of keywords will get your page indexed for specific searches but does not guarantee placement or rank within that search. There are also some common keyword mistakes to avoid.

Each page should target a tight collection of keywords. In my opinion, you should not have a page that targets more than 3 to 5 and those should be related to one another. So ‘mailing list’ and ‘direct marketing list’ are related to one another subject-wise and could be used in coordination with one another on the page.

Your page should focus on great content that drives conversions, not concentrate on stuffing keywords throughout that content. The natural use of the keywords is most important – so that search engines see the keywords but visitors don’t necessarily see them. Content drives conversions (sales) – so write well!

Where to Research Keywords

The only tools that I use anymore for keyword research are SEMRush and BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo provides insight on content popularity and SEMRush provides insight on content rankings… the two aren’t always the same. Aside from a plethora of audit and ranking tools, SEMRush just does an incredible job at identifying the most important keywords for your business. Here are a few ways that I use the tool:

  • Domain Keywords – I run reports on the client to identify keywords they may already be ranking on and determine whether there are strategies like content changes and promotion I can deploy that will improve their ranking.
  • Related Keywords – When I find keywords that I wish to target, I run related keyword reports to identify other combinations of relevant keywords that I may be able to garner better ranking on.
  • Gap Analysis – SEMRush has a really great feature where you can compare multiple domains and identify where you’re competing with other domains. We often identify keywords our clients’ competitors are ranking on that we haven’t pursued.

How to Use Keywords Effectively on your site for SEO

  1. Domain – if your domain name has keywords, it’s great. If not, that’s alright as well. Be sure you’ve registered the domain for 10 years so Google recognizes that it’s not a spam site and is viable. Domain registration length is an SEO myth. However, a young domain will have less authority than one that may have been utilized in the past for similar terms. Before you look for a fresh domain, check out some auctions on other relevant domains… you could get a head start if you’re just starting out!
  2. Home Page Title Tag – be sure your homepage title tag has a few of the terms that you’re after and places them before your company name.
  3. Title Tag – each independent page should have the keywords that the content of that page focuses on.
  4. Meta Tags – the keyword tag is ignored by search engines and keywords utilized in your page description are ignored. However, when someone searches for a specific keyword, it’s bolded in the search engine results page so a search user may be more likely to click on your result.
  5. Heading Tags – in HTML, there are headings and subheadings. These are specifically <h1>, <h2>, <h3> tags in that order of importance. Search engines pay attention to these tags and it’s important that you pay attention to them as well as you create pages and utilize keywords. For blog posts, utilize keywords in your blog post titles. Avoid using <h1>, <h2>, or <h3> tags in your sidebar.
  6. Bold and Italics – bold or italicize your keywords on the page so that they stand out.
  7. Image Alt and Description – when you utilize an image (recommended) within your site pages or posts, be sure to utilize keywords effectively in the image alt or description tags.
    <img src='domain.com/image.jpg' alt='The KEYWORD' />
    Your content management system should allow for this.
  8. Internal Links – if you make mention of other posts or pages within your site, be sure to utilize keyword effectively in the anchor text of the link to that content and in the title tag of the anchor tag.
    <a href='domain.com/myotherpage.html' title='The KEYWORD'>More keywords</a>
    Avoid using generic terms like ‘read more’ or ‘click here’.
  9. First Words of Content – the first words on your page or post should include keywords relevant to the content within that page.
  10. Top of Page – Search engines view a page and analyze the content from top to bottom, the top of the page is the most important content and the bottom of the page is least important. If you have a columnar layout, check with your company that designed your theme and ensure that columns are lower in your HTML than the body of your content (many themes put the sidebar first!).
  11. Repeated Usage – within your content (also known as keyword density), it’s important to utilize keywords naturally within your content. The search engines are getting much more sophisticated at finding relevant terms, so you do not have to repeat the same exact phrase. Always work on ensuring your content is natural and compelling. While over-optimized content may get you found, it won’t get you sold!

Here’s one other note… keywords don’t have to match. Co-occurrence words and synonyms are just as important and can actually get your content found in a greater array of search combinations if you use them. In the example of this post, I use terms like keyword usage, but I also use terms like SEO, keyword density, content, title tags… all terms that are relevant to the topic but may make this post get found for more combinations.

It’s also important to note that users of search engines are typing much longer combinations of keywords – including questions and other phrases to narrow the results. So a keyword isn’t limited to a 1 or 2 word combination, it may be an entire sentence! And we’ve found that the longer the combination, the better the match, the more relevant the traffic – and the more likely the visitor will convert.

If you can get external links with keywords back to your site, even better! This post was simply about on-site keyword usage, though.

Keywords hold extreme importance for a business whose websites are a crucial extension of their operations. When used properly, keyword-optimised websites can result in better search results and increase traffic to an online store. Ultimately, it also helps a business attract prospects with a higher chance of converting into paying customers. Healthy Business Builder

Here’s an infographic from Healthy Business Builder, Why Are Keywords So Important for Your Online Sales:

Keyword Usage Infographic

Disclosure: I am using my affiliate link for SEMRush in the article.

10 Comments

  1. 1

    This is great content Douglas. So many sites, so many variables, and so many versions out there that it gets confusing to anyone starting to learn about the SEO arena. But you just went straight to what's important and what's not; what some call "to the point"! Definitely worth a share with my peeps. –Paul

  2. 2

    Awesome find, PJ! I had heard 'rumblings' so decided to include it in the post. I suppose it doesn't actually hurt anything (outside of your wallet)! Thanks for taking the time and posting this!

  3. 3

    Is #1 really true? I've heard mixed opinions on it. I have all of my domains on 1 year renewals. Am I really screwing myself on my core business domains by not extending them to 10 years?

    • 4

      Hi Patric,

      PJ did some great analysis and has found some articles directly from Google that dispute this. So – I guess I wouldn't worry too much about it. I still do it, though… I think it's a good practice and I hate that they always seem to run out when I don't have money!

      Doug

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    • 9

      For the most part, I believe it’s still important. However, I would encourage writing for your reader and NOT paying as much attention to the mechanics of SEO keyword optimization. While these strategies can help you get indexed accurately, ranking is going to depend on the popularity of that content. Working on ensuring you have great, rich content is far more important than keyword placement in 2015. As well, Google recognizes co-occurrence terms today a lot better than it did in the past.

  7. 10

    Keywords play an important role in SEO. Many people fail to rank well in search engines, due to improper keyword research and placement. However, thanks to your post, even beginners can now master the art of Keyword Optimization. Great article. Really helpful. Thank you so much for sharing!

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