If you’re not sure how to use keywords for search engine optimization (SEO), you’re losing valuable inbound traffic. This is especially true of how you employ keywords – specifically in terms of keyword placement.
The majority of users only look at the first page of SERPs and half the clicks go to one of the first three results. This means if your SEO game isn’t on point and you don’t rank high, you’ll miss out on a ton of free organic traffic. A dismal amount of organic traffic means fewer leads, which, in turn, means fewer sales. This is the opposite of what any business wants to achieve. Right?
In this post, we’re going to discuss how to employ keywords the right way, so that you reel in the traffic, gather leads, and convert those leads into sales! One of the most essential components to a successful SEO strategy on an individual post level is keyword placement.
Ready? Let’s go!
Understanding Keywords & SEO
Before we dive into the juicy stuff, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about keywords and SEO.
SEO is the art – yes, art – of optimizing your content to rank better in search result pages (SERPs). A major element of SEO is using keywords – words and phrases that describe what your content is about. Google then uses this information to determine which content is most relevant to a particular search query and how a page should rank for a specific term.
Keywords themselves aren’t the primary ranking factor. However, their use in content and links, which are top ranking factors, helps Google with this process.
Let’s take a look at how you can get started with using keywords for SEO.
Getting Started with Keywords and Keyword Placement for SEO
The first, and possibly most important, step to your SEO process is to conduct adequate keyword research. This is how you can figure out what people are searching for online, which, in turn, helps you determine which keywords you want to focus on.
As we touched on earlier, keywords help Google rank content in terms of both quality and relevance.
Keyword research also helps you develop your content strategy.
A best practice is to develop each piece of content around a different keyword/keyphrase. Furthermore, you should never use the same keyword or keyphrase more than once. Doing so will most likely result in an instance of content cannibalization. In a nutshell, content cannibalization is when you end up competing for keywords with your own content. This is a lose-lose situation for your content.
How to Find Keywords for Your Content
You first want to brainstorm a list of terms that you believe potential customers might search for via Google. Next, you want to find related keywords. You can accomplish this by conducting a search on Google and scrolling to the very bottom of the page where you’ll find a collection of related searches.
Lastly, you can discover the keywords that already lead people to your site via Google Analytics and Google Search Console. You can read up more on how to use Google Analytics and Google Search Console in this awesome post from OptinMonster.
It’s important to understand that keyword research isn’t just helpful for creating new content. It’s also an essential part of improving SEO for existing content. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use Google Analytics to improve how you implement your keyword.
How to Find Pages to Optimize with Keyword Placement via Google Analytics
Google Analytics helps you find the pages on your site that are already a hit with your visitors. These pages likely only require a few tweaks to help them perform even better.
To find these pages, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium and click on Google/Organic. This will present you with a table ranked by the number of users in the timeframe you’ve selected.
Next, you’ll want to add Landing Page as a secondary dimension. Doing so will sort the list out by individual landing page.
It’s a great idea to make note of your top pages in an external file, simply export the results.
Effective Keyword Placement for SEO
There are a handful of places throughout your content where it is a great idea to include your keyword or keyphrase. To help simplify the process of adding keywords, it helps if you use SEO software of some sort – I’m a big fan of Yoast.
1.) Page Titles
Optimizing your pages titles falls under the umbrella of technical SEO. They’re also a great starting point when you start using keywords for SEO.
A page title describes the main purpose of your page, or article, and shows up as the first line of a search result. In short, your page titles let Google and users know what type of information a page contains.
In most cases, the page title may be the same as the headline for a blog post or the name of the page (e.g. “about” or “services”). However, this isn’t always the case. Again, SEO software like Yoast can prove quite useful when it comes to tweaking your SEO title in order to improve search ranking potential.
A best practice when crafting page titles is to you use your target SEO keywords or phrase at the start of the page title. Doing so ensures that it’s seen as more relevant. Furthermore, your page title won’t get cut off in mobile SERPs, which can easily happen on smaller screens.
If you’re interested in learning more about optimizing your titles for SEO, you check out this ahrefs post.
2.) Meta Descriptions
The next important area for keyword placement for SEO is the meta description. The meta description is the brief snippet of text (usually around 155 characters) beneath the title of your page.
Meta descriptions are no longer a direct ranking factor. However, they can help Google figure out how relevant your content is to people’s search queries.
Meta descriptions also help users decide whether to click through from the SERP to view the full contents of your website. This is why it’s critical to use the right keywords here. By right, I mean relevant to the content that users will find when they click through.
Before we dive into how to best use keywords for SEO within your main content, let’s discuss subheadings. Subheadings help make your content scannable and provide your audience with points at which to take a break.
Subheadings also help visitors decide whether your content is relevant to their needs. Your subheadings may also appear as part of a featured snippet or answer box. It also doesn’t hurt to include your keywords in at least a few of your subheadings.
4.) Main Content
One of the most important areas to optimize for the use of SEO keywords is in your main body content. This is because your content is one of the top SEO ranking factors.
However, it’s essential that you go about optimizing your content the right way. Poor keyword usage can actually damage your search ranking.
For instance, keyword stuffing is a major no-no. Including your keyword(s) in every other sentence drastically increases your chances of incurring Google penalties. Google provides the following as an example of what to avoid when it comes to keyword stuffing.
We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at email@example.com.
Let’s be honest, who in their right mind would want to read that piece of garbage?
Effective Keyword Placement in Mainbody Content
First, you’ll want to use your main keyword in the first few sentences of your content. A general rule of thumb is to include your main keyword in the opening paragraph. From there you’ll want to use your primary keyword and its variants throughout the rest of your body content.
One best practice is to include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords instead of the exact keyword or key phrase every time.
When all is said and done, it’s critical that you write for humans first. This means writing content that is easy to read and understand.
5.) Images and Keyword Placement
When it comes to keyword placement on your website, images probably don’t rank towards the top of your list. While they’re not the most important element to optimize for SEO, you cannot afford to ignore them.
- Images are indexed just like text, so they’re another way people can find your content.
- Images can help when it comes to content accessibility. This is vital for the millions of users who experience the web with a disability. It’s also a matter of legality due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
So, how can you use keywords for SEO in images?
- First, you want to ensure that all of your images are relevant to your content.
- Next, give them a file name that reflects their relevance. This is a great way to incorporate keywords or LSI keywords if it makes sense.
- You should use SEO keywords in image titles. These are the little snippets that pop up when you hover over an image.
- Lastly, use SEO keywords in alt text. Alt text is the part that helps with accessibility. The best practice for using alt text with images is to make it descriptive – don’t just use the keyword.
Have you ever seen an URL that is just a bunch of letters, numbers, and weird characters? I’m willing to bet that you have at one point or another. Anyways, these can be a huge turnoff for potential visitors.
The best URLs provide visitors (and Google) a clue about what’s on the page. This means that you want to make your URLs descriptive!
A best practice is to keep your URLs short and sweet. Furthermore, you should only include one, maybe two, keywords in a way that makes the URL make sense to potential visitors. As we touched on before, you should avoid keyword stuffing your URLs.
7.) Link Anchor Text
Links are one of the top SEO ranking factors that you need to consider when optimizing your content for SEO.
One of the golden SEO rules is that you have to vary your anchor text. Anchor text is the clickable text that’s highlighted as a link and links to another page.
If you employ the same anchor text for every inbound link that you create, Google will definitely raise a red flag. Heck, you may even be penalized. Instead, use LSI keywords to vary your inbound anchor text.
The same concept applies to internal linking. This helps both Google and searchers find other valuable content on your site.
If too many links on your site use the same anchor text to link to another site, Google might think it’s a black hat SEO scheme. This will likely result in an SEO penalty, which will knock you down quite a few spots on the SERPs.
8.) Social Media
Even though social media isn’t a direct search ranking factor, research shows that there’s a strong correlation between social shares and visibility in SERPs.
This should be reason enough to optimize keyword usage in social media updates for better SEO.
According to Moz, you should use keywords early in any social media post so that they’re immediately visible.
It’s also worth mentioning that Google indexes Twitter updates. This means that using keywords there can lead people to your Twitter profile. Users can then click their way from your Twitter profile to your website.
Keywords are also helpful as hashtags in social media updates. This is especially true on Twitter, where using the right hashtags can make it easier for people to find content on your site.
Other social media sites also incorporate hashtags but pay attention to how you use keywords as hashtags because hashtag use varies from network to network.
You can also employ keywords in your social profiles for branding purposes. For instance, if your blog covers a specific niche, using a keyword is a simple way to signal this. You should do this in your Twitter and Instagram bios, and in the category and description for your Facebook.
9.) Directories & External Listings
Last, but not least, business listings. These can be a great place to include keywords. For example, when you’re setting up your Google My Business listing, it makes sense to include SEO keywords in the description.
Doing so will improve the chances that your business will show up when searchers submit queries with relevant keywords. This will also improve your online authority and click-through rate.