Keywords are an important part of your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. It’s now 2018 and keywords are still just as relevant as ever, so read on to find out what they are and how to use them.
What are keywords?
Keywords can be described as the topic for your content. They are also the words or phrases people type into search engines. Each page on your website should be centred around one topic, resulting in your primary keyword/s for that page.
What’s the difference between short tail and long tail keywords?
Short tail keywords are search queries consisting of only one or two words, for example, “coffee”, whereas an example of a long tail keyword would be “organic sustainable coffee beans”. Long tail keywords are far more specific compared to short tail, which can be ambiguous. If a search query is simply “apple”, is the searcher looking for the fruit? pictures? computer products? recipes?
Short tail keywords have a very high search volume, but that means there’s huge competition to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). A budding coffee roaster in Wellington is going to have a difficult time ranking highly for “local coffee” when they’re up against Havana and Flight.
How do I use keywords to help SEO?
Placement and density are the two key factors to know about here.
Let’s look at keyword placement. Logically, you will have the topic of your page in the title. You’ll also be using your keywords, along with related words and synonyms, throughout the body content of the page. If you have images or videos, they’ll be relevant to the topic. The URL will have the keyword included. All these factors signal to Google your page is genuine.
Bonus tip: the closer to the beginning of the title and URL the keywords are placed, the better. You should also have your keywords in the first paragraph on the page, provided it sounds natural.
Let’s use the above example of the coffee roaster. They have a page each for “how we source organic coffee beans from Wellington”, “how we roast our coffee beans” and “how to use our coffee beans to create the best cup in Wellington”. Each page will use those keywords in the URL and the content.
When someone enters “source organic coffee beans in Wellington” into Google, the search engine sees the coffee roaster’s page “How we source organic coffee beans from Wellington” as highly relevant to the query. This will be displayed so prominently in the results page it’s most likely to be visited by the person searching.
So what about density? How many times should you use your keywords? The answer is there isn’t a specific number. So long as your content has a single focus, you’ll naturally use your keywords, along with related words, throughout.
To achieve this, it helps to have longer content. You should aim for at least 300 words per page where possible.
By using these strategies on your own website, you can improve your ranking power in search results.
What to avoid — Black Hat SEO
“Black Hat” SEO is a range of techniques used to improve your ranking in the SERPs by trickery. It’s good ethics to put in the work for an SEO website with “white hat” SEO. Techniques that don’t honestly represent your site are considered unethical by Google and results in penalties.
1. Keyword stuffing
This is exactly what it sounds like. Overuse of a word or phrase is spammy and gives a poor user experience (UX). Keyword stuffing was a popular way to boost website ranking before the 2000’s. Nowadays, you’ll be caught out by the Panda Google algorithm and penalised.
2. Hidden text and links
Sneaky tactics for increasing a page keyword count include:
- using the same colour font as the background
- setting the font size to 0
- hiding links in a single character (such as a full stop)
- using CSS to hide text or links offscreen
- hiding text or links behind an image
Don’t be tempted by these black hat tactics.
3. Forcing keywords
This is not quite the same as keyword stuffing. Trying to force keywords into a sentence where they don’t sound right is off-putting to the reader. Poorly written content can lead to a high bounce rate.
A last word on keywords…
User experience is number 1. Plan and design your website primarily for your users. Back that up with a solid SEO strategy and with those two things combined, you’ll be popping up in the SERPs without the need for tricks.
Briaane currently works for Webstruxure as a website coordinator in Wellington. Between plugging away at Search Engine Optimisation and content creation, Briaane can be found curled up with a coffee and a Sci Fi book, or broadening her skills and talents. You can connect with her and read more of her writing on LinkedIn.
Originally published at Webstruxure.