Practical guide: Optimize your SEO through keywords

This article is part of a broader blog series on Improving your website’s SEO.

Keyword optimization is part art and part science. The ‘art’ is picking the right keywords. The ‘science’ is convincing Google (and other search engines) to score you highly on those keywords.

Selecting keywords – the ‘art’

Every Google search is a competition for Page #1.

Some Google search terms are more competitive than others. For example: “leather couch” is harder to reach Page #1 than “where can I buy a red leather couch in Atlanta.” Your site cannot compete for every keyword, you need to make choices.

“The Best Place to Hide a Dead Body is Page Two of Google.” -Brian Clark

Do you focus on winning the most competitive keywords? Or do you prioritize less competitive options that attract less traffic? These trade-offs require strategic choices. Making the right choices is an ‘art’.

So, what are the best keywords for you? Every company is unique. Without first getting to know you, we cannot tell you which keywords to focus on. But we can share advice that is applicable to all companies.

Optimum number of keywords

If you are small (think less than 5 web pages), pick approximately 10 keywords to focus on. Once you start seeing results, you can slowly ramp up to 15-20 keywords. As you add new pages (e.g. a blog), you can steadily increase the number of keywords you use.

Best types of keywords

If you are just getting started, focus on the easier wins. As you see results, start experimenting with more competitive keywords. Think of running a marathon, you need to train first.

Less competitive keyword categories

  • Long-tail: Phrases of three or more words (e.g. “traditional Indian cooking”)
  • Informational: Seeking guidance or trying to learn something (e.g. “how to…” or “what are the best…”)
  • Transactional: Buying or selling something (e.g. “purchase skillet online”)

More competitive keyword categories

  • Head-term: One or two words (e.g. “radio station”)
  • Navigational: Brand name or popular product (e.g. “Apple”)
Tools to help you select keywords

Intuitively speaking, pick keywords based on what you believe people type into Google when looking for something your company offers. Guessing is a good first step, but definitely not sufficient.

Here are some free tools that improve upon guesswork:

Analyzes your competitors keywords. This intel is helpful to know. But if you copy your competitors, then you will compete against them directly on every search. Often, it is smarter to develop your own list.

Provides every combination of keywords that a customer might type when searching a particular topic.

 Displays the number of historical searches made for any keyword. This way you don’t waste your time on keywords that people rarely search.

 Analyzes how competitive a keyword is. This helps you understand how realistic chance you have of making Page #1 for a given keyword.

 Do this last. This tool gives you related keywords to those you selected. Pick 3-4 related keywords to include on your site. Google assumes that ‘natural’ writing will not just include target keywords but also related phrases. These related phrases convince Google you are not just gaming the system, but sharing valuable information.

Optimizing your keywords for Google – the ‘science’

Once you selected your keywords, it’s time to incorporate them into your website. Doing this is surprisingly simple:

1. Determine which keywords you want on each web page
2. Integrate the keywords into the text

Edit your content so that the keywords appear “naturally.” Use each keyword 2-3 times per page. That’s all. More than that doesn’t help, and often comes at the expense of good writing. It may also trigger Google’s spam filter.

3. Update HTML tags to include keywords

Even though your readers cannot see this, Google does and will rate you higher for it. There are many types of html tags: meta descriptions, navigation anchor text, heading tags, etc. If you need help accessing the admin portal for your website, talk to your web developer. The tags take only seconds to update.

That’s it. Overall, this may seem like a lot. But taken step by step, even a novice can select and optimize keywords for SEO. Expertise and experience helps, but keyword optimization is not the ‘black box’ some on the internet like to claim it is! If you have any questions, reach out or leave a comment below – we’re here to help!

1Comment
  • Noted | Top 10 ways to improve your SEO
    Posted at 08:02h, 28 November Reply

    […] Keywords help Google understand where you wish to compete. Do you want to be on Page #1 for the search “Family friendly, local dentist” or for “Helpful, neighborhood dentist”? Picking the right keywords and convincing Google to score you highly on each keyword is a multi-step process. Read our in-depth guide on using keywords to improve SEO. […]

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