One thing among more than any other thing will (with my clients) set off a huge discussion – is talking about SEO. About 12 years ago, before WordPress
Using keywords really isn’t that hard unless you are in a room of SEO companies, and they're making you feel the pain to buy their services… This is because the very best SEO is content marketing, which is what you're doing right now!
There are two types of SEO you need to be concerned about – On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. But before anything can be done you need to get inside the mind of your ideal client and work out what Keywords they will use to find you.
Remember keywords have a use beyond content marketing – they are how you get found on Twitter, on YouTube, and on every other social channel that has a search function. Using keywords across all your channels is a part of good branding.
Don’t think Keywords and phrases apply to just websites or you will be left behind with your other social media marketing activities.
You can do this two ways, you ask your clients what terms they would search (always a good indicator of what you should optimise for) and Keyword research.
So let’s start at the beginning and work our way through keywords, it’s a long post so grab a cup of coffee now and we’ll get to it.
How to do Your Keyword Research
When it comes to marketing online, one bit of advice is repeated again and again – do your keyword research. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, keyword use can be an adventure that often ends in confusion, frustration and wandering around in circles, or smacking your head against a desk! Luckily learning how to use keywords is quite easy once you know-how.
Understand that keywords and keyphrases determine which pieces of your content will be found. Simply put, a keyword (keyphrase is actually a more accurate description as you'll need two or three words rather than just one) is the term your ideal customer types into their search engine of choice, when they’re looking for the answer to a question.
If your reader wants to know how to potty train their toddler, they might type in “potty training” or “how to train a toddler to use the potty” or “potty training for toddlers.” These are all key phrases made up of keywords.
You will need to find out which is the best keyword or keyphrase for your purpose. This can depend on a lot of factors, but most commonly you’ll want to know how many people, on average, search for that exact term. Optimising your page for the term “toilet training a young child” won’t earn you a bit of traffic if no one ever searches for that term.
There are a variety of tools available for conducting keyword research in prices ranging from free to several hundred dollars per month. While the paid tools are able to do many fancy calculations like analysing your potential competition and discovering the number of backlinks your page has, free tools are more than enough when you're getting familiar with keyword research.
One of the most popular is Google’s own keyword research tool, the Keyword Planner Tool which you can find here: Keywords Planner Tool
Some people are having trouble accessing the Google tool, so I recommend you take a free trial of Longtail Pro and hook Google Keyword Planner to it. Don't panic, Longtail Pro will show you how to do this.
To begin your keyword research, simply type your basic keyword into the box marked word or phrase, enter the captcha code, and click search. Google will present you with a list of words and phrases related to your chosen keyword. Clicking on the various headings will sort your list accordingly. If you want to find the keywords with the highest number of searches locally (local in this case is your country), click “Local Monthly Searches” and the list will sort itself.
For basic keyword research, you can ignore the column labeled “competition” as that is relevant only when choosing keywords for an Adwords campaign. It has nothing to do with keyword competition. You should, however, change your search preference from “broad” to “exact” in the left column. Be aware that an exact match means what it says while a broad match can be quite misleading and drive you nuts.
When you have a list of ten keywords, add them to a spreadsheet or Google docs. You’ll need them (to know where to put them) in the next section.
Telling the World What You’re About by Using Keywords Consistently
Discovering your ideal keywords is just the start. It's only when you’re proficient and consistent with using keywords will you really begin to understand their power.
So what do you do with keywords? Here are four critical places to use keywords:
- Your URL. Using keywords in your URL is ideal, but unless your site is about a very narrow topic, you may find your keyword URL is long gone. It may be possible to find your keyword with a different domain extension (.org or .us .co.uk for example) but doing so is generally not advised, people get confused and if your site is similar to your competitors you can open up a whole new can of worms.
Some SEO experts say you shouldn’t use dashes, odd spellings, or numbers instead of words. All of these methods can potentially cause your customers to visit the competition’s site rather than yours when they forget to type .org at the end of your URL or neglect to add the dash. If you can’t get the name with keywords that you want, consider another URL.
If you’re set on using your keyword in your URL but it’s not available, you could try adding a short word to the beginning or end of your keyphrase. Some popular choices are my, blog, and online. So instead of LoseWeight.com, you’ll have LoseWeightBlog.com or LoseWeightOnline.com.
- Your site title. Regardless of your site’s URL, you can name your site anything you like. If your keyword is “Same day courier” for example, your URL might be www.ArrowLightHaulage.com. Your site title, however, might be “Same Day Courier Services.”
Site titles generally take the H1 tag, which means search engines understand that this is the most important text on the page, so using your keywords here is likely to be seen as more important than using them in your URL.
Remember, not everyone has a domain name with their keyword in. Don’t wrongly assume their domain name is their keywords or keyphrases.
- Your article (or blog post) title. Your site will have one main keyword which you’ll use in your URL and your site title. But for individual pages, posts, and articles, you’ll have many other narrower keywords. The first place you’ll use these keywords is in the title of the post or article. For example, the keyword for this post is “using keywords.”
- Your content. Use your keyword in the first paragraph and the last paragraph of your article or post. You can use it more, but don’t get carried away. The idea of reaching a certain keyword density is outdated and can even cause the search engines to label your post as spammy, so aim to use your keywords in a natural-sounding manner, and include other, related terms as well. Remember, it’s human beings who have to read the post after the search engines have served it up to them.
You most likely won’t be able to use your keywords in each place for every post or article, and that’s not a bad thing – we all write for people. Keeping the above locations in mind will help you use keywords consistently throughout your site, and will improve your search engine rankings over time. The key here is time, search changes take place over time.
Don’t rush thinking that by optimising all your posts you will see a difference overnight. You won’t. It takes a little time and some additional actions.
Keywords, when used respectfully in your content will get you found by your ideal clients.
PS Bonus Content. If you share this post using the buttons in the box, you'll unlock a keyword checklist to help you stay focused on your blogging.
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SEO doesn’t sound quite so scary anymore, thanks Kevin! Wondering your thoughts on acquiring additional url with keywords that redirects to your main site. For example, if your main website is your name, would this be a good option to help SEO?
A good introduction in how to use keywords effectively Kevin. I’m sure many people will benefit from this and then want to contact you to find out how to do it properly with you.
This is good, useful info. Thank you! And it’s good to see you using the term “keyphrase” as this is indeed far more accurate than “keyword.” It’s interesting that people still use “keyword” as it’s basically an antiquated term.
Interesting article in regards to keywords in the name of your domain.
I like your “Bonus Content” BTW!
Very informative article. Also helped me reconnect with Google Keywords. Thank you!