And then…there was SEO #keywriting the story

5 things every writer should know about SEO and the art of using keywords

Keywords, anyone?

Once upon a time, writing was a simple and intuitive process. You wrote, the reader read, and the two lived happily ever after. You still do the same — but with a litany of tools and metrics with which to “measure” the relationship.

Modern day writer, meet SEO and keywords.

Some of us writers understand the importance of using keywords (No, I don’t want more views — said no one ever!). Some of us can even do our own keyword research.

But, if you’re like me (or formerly me), SEO keywords are mostly a bunch of words or phrases that the agency tells you to throw into your articles to get more views. Sounds familiar?

Well, a little bit of education hurt no one.

So, here’s a primer on keywords and the top 5 things every writer should know. (Plus, some great resources and links to get started!)

1. What are keywords?

Google is pretty educative on the subject and one simple search throws up plenty of links for you to read. But here’s a basic description on Moz.com, just to get the ball rolling.

‘Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called “search queries.” If you boil everything on your page — all the images, video, copy, etc. — down to a simple words and phrases, those are your primary keywords. Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about.’

In short, keywords are how readers discover your content. The more “matched” the two are, the better the chances of your content being read.

Ready for more? Check out this article or that one.

2. Why should you care about keywords?

The world has become a much smaller and a much larger place at the same time, thanks to the Internet and social media. Earlier, brands would communicate with their users and prospects largely via word of mouth, TVCs and hoardings, with some events and conferences thrown in.

Today, however, they are truly a spoilt lot — they can choose from hundreds of platforms and channels. But this also means more noise.

Think of the amount of information that is thrown at you on a daily basis. Do you end up reading everything? The answer is probably not. I usually make a note of interesting articles I come across and go back to them when I’m in the mood. But so much content just gets wiped off the plate. That’s why it’s important to make your content pop out.

And in Google land, the better the page ranking, the higher the chances of your brand being discovered. Need more persuasion? Hop over to this article on the importance of keywords.

3. How can you optimize your content for SEO?

This one is not as simple as knowing how to use or add keywords to your writing. The process begins much before you actually type your first word. Think research, understanding your customers or readers, ensuring the speed of your website, and then finally carving out a worthy piece of content.

Feel like you’re up to the challenge? I recommend reading this article by Neil Patel that digs deep into the art of writing for people and Google.

4. Is there such a thing as too much?

Yes, keyword stuffing is a thing. Your content can get marked as spam if you “stuff” too many keywords into a single piece of content.

Besides, common sense is a good indicator too. For instance, would you like to read a paragraph that goes:

‘I tried to write an article on SEO and keywords. Considering that SEO and keywords are so important for marketing today. But the truth is I really didn’t spend time on what I wrote, because I just wanted to optimize for keywords, keywords and keywords, in that order. The other words were incidental, only the keywords were important. After all, it’s all about keywords!’

Spam alert, anyone?

So, is there a single golden ratio that you can follow?

Shoutmeloud says a 1.5% keyword density should do the trick. And not piss off your readers.

On the other hand, as John Rampton writes for Forbes, ‘…there is no precise keyword density formula you should be aiming for.’

Still want some useful ratio calculators? You could try Live Keyword Density Analysis or the AddMe tool.

Spoiler: Google’s algorithm changes constantly, so you need to keep an eye open all the time. Or, you could read this cheat sheet by Search Engine Land and this weatherproof guide by SEJ.

5. Finally, great content will still win

Why? Because no one wants to share content that is not engaging and considerate of the reader. And in the end, your content will only become noticeable and buzz worthy if it has some buzz to begin with.

Need some writing inspiration? Head over to The Writing Cooperative or pick up an inspiring book.

And no, this post has not been optimized for keywords. It contains only naturally occurring ones :)


-Authored by Kushal Saini Kakkar, who’s wondering why she never added keywords to this post. Also, a content marketing maven at Flock.

How do you blend your writing with SEO? Do share by leaving a comment below.

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