How to write keyword-focused content.
According to Backlinko’s analysis of five million Google searches, only 0.78% of searchers click on results from the second page, highlighting the importance of improving your website’s ranking.
Here, we offer a detailed guide on keywords and discuss how you can use them to increase your online visibility, attract new customers and, ultimately, boost your revenue.
What is a keyword?
In search engine optimisation (SEO), keywords and phrases are used to match searchers with relevant websites. They are the foundation of SEO and all campaigns are in essence built around optimising websites for relevant keywords.
Why are keywords important?
Search engines crawl through websites and find matching keywords to connect a user’s search to their results. However, when potential customers search for your product or service online, they are unlikely to type the name of your organisation, meaning you need to target specific keywords used in searches.
For example, optimising our website’s content for the phrase ‘The Bigger Boat’ assumes that all users seeking digital marketers know about our business, which is clearly unrealistic. Instead, we might optimise a service page to include a broader phrase with much higher search volume, such as ‘digital marketing agency’.
How Google uses keywords
Before we discuss how you can use keywords to revolutionise your content’s performance, it’s important to understand what Google does with them.
Google once placed great emphasis on keyword volume and used it to learn about websites. If a page repeated the phrase ‘running shoes’, Google would assume the page was about running shoes and rank the website according to the frequency of the keyword. This led to writers and web developers loading their sites with keywords to rank higher online, often at the expense of readability and usefulness.
Thankfully, Google is now much smarter and takes a lot more into account when learning about a website, including latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. These are words or phrases which are incidental, useful and relate to the keyword in a search. This is what demonstrates authority and user-focus in your website. For example, in order for a page to rank for ‘running shoes’, it needs to include the main keyword in a prominent position with useful content that includes LSI keywords, such as ‘shock absorbent’ or ‘breathable’.
While some questions have relatively straightforward answers, and you should never bulk out your content with unnecessary jargon, providing insightful content beyond that of your competitors will set you apart online. In fact, Google has even been known to penalise thin content. But this doesn’t mean bulking out your copy for the sake of it. Pay real attention to content depth – really hone in on the detail that users are searching for to demonstrate your expertise and authority to speak in this area.
Finding the right keywords
Once you understand why and how keywords function, you’ll need to identify which ones you want to target. If you don’t have a dedicated SEO service, you can create free accounts on various research tools, such as SEMrush, to search a topic and browse a list of overarching keywords. This will show you the volume of searches as well as difficulty scores, which indicate how easy it might be to rank for the keyword. This is where strategy and picking the right keywords becomes crucial.
For example, a small electronics repairs company might want to rank well for ‘iPhone repair’. However, the keyword has an extremely high difficulty score due to the number of bigger companies offering the service. Targeting this keyword is unlikely to increase rankings to such an extent that they would be seen over these bigger companies. Instead, the company might target a keyword or phrase with a lower volume and difficulty score to improve their chances of standing out in those less-common searches.
Perfect keyword placement
When Google reads a site, it takes a very logical view of it, reading from left to right and top to bottom in order of importance.
When you write copy for a webpage, you should separate the content into sections, or blocks, titling each with a header. The title of your page should be listed as a Header 1 (H1) with subsequent sub-headings as Header 2 (H2), and so on. Google reads headers before the accompanying paragraph and uses keywords within it to identify the topic. This means the best place for your main keywords is in your headers, while the body of your content should include useful LSI keywords.
This is also a great way to get a ‘featured snippet’ on Google – typically an answer to a question which appears at the top of searches. Use a question for your header, including the keyword you want to target, and answer that question as concisely and accurately as possible in the following paragraph.
If you’d like to learn more about optimising your website’s copy, read our comprehensive guide on how to use contextual linking in content.