Search engine optimization is easy. All you need to do is use automated software that launches popular keywords, so you can include those words and phrases into your content, right? Wait; it’s not that easy! You need a strategic approach that combines diligent research, audience scanning, and setting specific goals for each piece of content you create.
Each and every keyword you position in the text should be well-planned. Search engine optimization is not simple at all, so you should spend some time in learning how it works before you can start implementing some tips.
What Are Keywords Anyway?
If you’re a newbie in online writing, then you should immediately learn the most important lesson: writing great content is not enough. If no one can locate your piece through search engines, you won’t reach a great audience regardless of the quality you offer. That’s what keywords are all about: enabling search engine users to locate your content.
No one searches Google with complete sentences; we use words and phrases that enable the intuitive engine to provide the results we need. The goal of search engine optimization is to include those words and phrases in your text in the most natural way.
Lesson One: Come Up With a Focus Keyword!
You can’t simply collect random keywords, implement them in your piece and expect Google to launch your site as the best choice for its users. Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work like that. You should have a list of keywords you want to rank for. When you’re focusing on long-tail keywords, it can be difficult to decide which ones you should optimize for.
The Yoast SEO Plugin gives you multiple suggestions for keywords Google users would see when they start typing search terms. When you have a focus keyword, you’ll easily fit into different search phrases used on Google. The only question is: how can you decide on the best focus keyword?
- Think about the keyword’s outcome!
What exactly are you trying to achieve with the content you have on your mind? Getting sign-ups, selling a product or a service, boosting your online authority… Think about the specific purpose of the text; that’s what the outcome of your focus keyword should be.
Before you make a list of keywords you’re going to use, make sure they enable you to achieve the desired outcome.
- Analyze different keywords!
When you have various options on your mind, you should predict how they would behave in the real online environment. Here is a simple way of doing that: google them! Analyze the first two pages of the results you get. Are those articles similar to what you’re planning to write? Your content needs to fit into those results, so make sure to select a focus keyword that will launch suitable suggestions.
You can use different online tools when you’re trying to select a focus keyword:
- Market Samurai – a keyword analysis tool that gives you insight into your competitors’ strategies. With its help, you’ll be able to choose a competitive focus keyword.
2. SEMRush – another online tool that enables you to understand how your competition is getting its content ranked on the first page of search engine results. When you have some potential choices for focus keywords, use SEMRush to find out if they would get any real traffic.
Do not use all suggestions for keywords you can think of. The whole point of a focus keyword is to focus! Choose one of the options and develop a list of keywords around that center.
The focus keyword is specific enough to target the right audience. That’s great, but you also need to expand your perspective a bit. That’s what general keywords are all about. Don’t be tricked by the term ‘general’; words like Buy, Europe or Internet are way too broad to be called keywords. However, ‘trends in Europe’ is something you can consider. When you combine such general phrases with your focus keyword, you’ll have an effective list that will make you attractive for the search engines.
Needless to say, you cannot just think of any general phrases and turn them into keywords. As any other aspect of the SEO strategy, this one is also more complex than you initially assume.
This is a classic technique that never fails in practice. Are there any common keywords you’ve used regularly throughout your blog posts? You can expand them with new terms since they help you attract your target audience. Although you cannot label any random thought as a keyword, it’s still useful to think: how would you conduct your own research? What’s the word or phrase you would type into Google’s search bar? Write down the ideas and proceed from there.
That’s right; you still need to conduct a research in order to predict how each general keyword would behave in your content. You can get basic general phrases when you enter your focus keyword in Google and follow the suggestions that pop up as most relevant. Not all of them will fit into your plan, but you can certainly use the relevant ones. Does the search end there? Nope; you need to use some tools to get the really effective keywords:
- Google Trends enables you to explore how trending keywords perform.
- Keyword Planner is a classic SEO tool. It enables you to search for effective keywords and ad group ideas. The best part is that you’ll get historical statistics on the performance of these suggestions. You can also create a new general keyword list by combining different suggestions together.
Lesson Three: Place the Keywords Strategically!
Now you have a good list of keywords? Great! Your plan was to position them randomly and add some text in between? Not a good idea. You can’t trick the search engine to list you among the first results if you don’t offer high-quality content. That’s the first thing to keep in mind. When you’re focused on developing a top-notch blog post, you can start thinking about the best places for your keywords.
- The title!
Of course, you need a keyword in the headline of your blog post. When you’re trying to think of a title, you are mainly focused on making it catchy. Yes, it should grab the reader’s attention, but it should also be attractive for the search engines. Google won’t decide whether or not your post is worth recommending by the level of awesomeness in your title. It will base the ranking upon the relevance, and you’re not relevant if you don’t include a keyword. It’s as simple as that!
Remember: you don’t have to sacrifice the title’s appeal by including a word or phrase that’s good for the search engine. Just get your focus keyword and build a catchy title around it.
- Put some keywords in the links!
SEO experts say that Google appreciates linked text when generating the list of results. The search engine also appreciates keywords, so you should combine these two pieces of information into a single strategy that works: links with keywords! It’s always a good idea to include these words and phrases within or next to the links in your blog post.
The permalink should contain the focus keyword as well. You should always create a custom permalink; that’s a certain way to make your post more attractive for the search engine.
- Use keywords throughout the post!
Clearly, you also need to position some keywords throughout the content you’re creating. The title and links may give you difficulties to think of proper formulations that contain the word or phrase, but you can think of endless combinations when you’re positioning them within the content. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can get carried away and use ten keywords in three sentences. That’s called keyword stuffing – a strategy that will backfire on you!
These are the best places for your focus keyword: the introduction and the conclusion of your post. Search engines consider these sections important when ranking the blog posts in the search results. Then, you can make the content even friendlier by positioning the words and phrases of your list throughout the middle portion of the text.
Remember: you can’t think solely about the search engines. You are not writing for them; your main goal is making your readers happy. This means that you should use all keywords naturally! You’ll notice that most automated tools suggest phrases that are not grammatically and logically correct. It would be best to avoid them; you don’t want your readers to notice an obvious SEO strategy. They shouldn’t know you’ve used keywords!
- Image name and alt tag!
It doesn’t matter whether you are a newbie in the blogosphere or you’re an experienced blogger who’s trying to get his posts ranked better – you are probably aware of the importance of images! They grab your reader’s attention and relax him when he goes through the text. Search engines also love images! However, you should optimize them too!
The alternate text for the image is really important. That’s where you should position a keyboard, since the text appears along with the HTML of your content as an alt tag.
- The comments!
The more comments you get, the more authoritative your blog post is. That’s why you should always impose questions and engage your readers to interact with your publications. Of course, you also need keywords in those comments – that strategy will inevitably result with a higher ranking on search engine.
You can’t ask your readers to use keywords in the comments, but you can infuse some words and phrases into the responses you write. You need to be really careful with this; each and every comment must be natural!
Everyone is aware of the importance of keywords. However, not all bloggers know how to use them effectively. You won’t achieve great ranking on search engines easily. This strategy requires a lot of time and commitment. However, if you stick to your regular posting schedule and start implementing keywords and phrases the right way, the results will come!