How to Sprinkle your Content with Keywords (A SEO Primer)

mark l chaves
Jun 7 · 5 min read

You’ve got keywords. Yay! Now what?

You’ve been told keywords will improve your SEO. Which will in turn boost your Google search ranking. But, how?

Below is a real life example that I hope will answer these two questions for you.

Let’s start with the live web page that we’ll use for our example content. We’re going to use a blog post called Artistic Street Photography published on my Bali Street Photographer site.

This page is currently showing up on Google SERP 3 (search engine result page 3) for the query, ‘What is “artistic” street photography?’. Not too shabby considering there are 121 million results for this long tail keyword.

Google SERP 3 for long tail keyword ‘What is Artistic Street Photography?’

Next: The List of Keywords to Sprinkle Our Content With

Here’s the list of keywords we have to work with. In order from most general to most specific (head keywords to long tail keywords).

  1. artistic
  2. street photography
  3. artistic street photography
  4. what is artistic street photography?

By the way, our focus keyword (phrase) is #3 in the list above, ‘artistic street photography’. The so-called focus keyword is the keyword you want your page to rank for. I.e., the keyword you should be focusing on. ;-)

Let the Sprinkling Commence

Ok, so check this out. When I write, I don’t worry about keywords. I go back to the basics. What are the basics?

  • Know your audience.
  • Start with the end in mind (Covey).
  • Deliver your message using an intro, body, and conclusion.
  • Write complete sentences.

Yup, nada on the keywords. Keywords don’t rule or cloud my message. They aren’t the boss. But, if you write well and deliver your message effectively and have fun along the way, the keywords take care of themselves.

Content (not keywords) is king.

Motivation

I wrote What is Artistic Street Photography out of passion and love for the artistic side to street photography. And, here’s the result in terms of SEO.

The Sprinkling

The first sprinkle is obviously the title. That should be a no-brainer (and be a H1 tag for your techie SEO folks out there). The next obvious sprinkle is the URL.

Artistic Street Photography focus keyword in the path of the URL. Notice that the individual keywords are separated (not smushed) and are separated by dashes (not underscores). More on smushed versus underscores versus dashes in an upcoming article.

If you noticed earlier in the Google SERP, the focus keyword, Artistic Street Photography, shows up four (count’em four) times. This result was not because I wanted to stuff the heck out of my focus keyword into the Google snippet. This was a direct result of my writing style. Little secret, I don’t use Yoast or any other SEO tool on my Bali Street Photography website. This means I can’t/won’t preview my Google snippet nor do I really have control over the page meta description. And, my Bali Street Photography website has been #1 on Google SERP 1 for more than a year for the keyword, ‘Bali Street Photography’. The site’s been up less than two years. Still a baby.

Wow! My focus keyword shows up four times in the Google Snippet! Cray. I only noticed this when I sat down to write this article.

Let’s see where else we sprinkled our list of four keywords from above.

Above the Fold

So, this “Above the Fold” thingy means that if you printed out my article and folded it in half, the stuff above the crease mark made by the folding process is what’s affectionately referred to as above the fold. Can you spot how many times our focus keyword shows up above the fold?

The above the fold content for the What is Artistic Street Photography post.

Here’s the shake down for what keywords are above the fold.

  • Our old familiar focus keyword shows up three times.
  • Our artistic head keyword shows up four times.
  • Our street photography keyword shows up four times.
  • Our What is Artistic Street Photography? long tail shows up one time, but it’s in a H2 tag (carries more weight).

What sprinkling does Google see?

Let’s put on our Google goggles (omg, I never thought I’d see the day where I would actually write that). Here’s what the Google Bot would probably see when it crawled our page. We’ll go through the list in order.

Artistic (67 hits)

Number of occurrences for the word ‘artistic’ in the HTML.

Street Photography (85 hits)

Number of occurrences for the words ‘street photography’ in the HTML.

Artistic Street Photography (60 hits)

Number of occurrences for the words ‘artistic street photography’ in the HTML.

What is Artistic Street Photography? (3 hits)

Number of occurrences for the words ‘what is artistic street photography?’ in the HTML.

Just for kicks, let’s add another head term, ‘Bali’ (2,122 hits just for this one page)

I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously hoping that Google understands what our article is about by now. And, based on our article showing up on page 3 out of millions of possible pages, Google figured it out. Insert relieved sigh here.

Wrapping Up

If you are still with me, congratulations. I hope this short SEO keyword demonstration was useful. I’ve had a surge of SEO requests and inquiries starting in 2018. With every SEO gig I get it’s inevitable that I’m asked, “What do I do with my keywords?”.

One of my mantras is, “If you create content that’s easy for people to find and understand, you are practising good SEO.” To become great at on-page SEO, invest in becoming a great content creator. Remember your audience and what message you are trying to share with them. Write with intent and with your audience’s intent in mind.

If any of this is confusing, or you just want to take a deeper dive leave a comment for me below. I look forward to your feedback.

I leave you with this recent development in the SEO ecosystem — searcher’s intent. Please replace the word user (yuk!) with customer/client/visitor/view/reader/audience/searcher instead.

enjoy!

mark l chaves

Written by

I built some software for Fortune 500 companies in a previous life. Now, I write and make some photographs.

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