Understanding the When and How of Using Keywords for SEO

Using keywords for SEO highlights an important difference between writing for SEO and writing regular online content: well-placed keywords that flow with your writing. The correct placement and use of keywords helps search engines index your content for the keywords you target—when what you write is relevant.

Simply throwing in random and haphazard keywords isn’t going to bring you success with SEO. Instead, strategically place keywords to maximize the relevance of your content to search engine algorithms. When you’re using keywords for SEO, there are five areas to focus:

  1. Keyword identification
  2. Keyword variation
  3. Keyword placement
  4. Keyword density
  5. Content relevancy

Keep in mind that SEO is important for driving organic search traffic, but relevant content speaks directly to your readers and is always the ultimate goal. This holds true whether you’re researching and selecting keywords yourself or using supplied keywords for paid writing assignments through Write.com

Keyword identification

Using keywords for SEO is all about finding the right keywords. What are the readers you want to reach searching for in search engine queries? How do you find out that information? Putting different terms into a search engine search bar gives a little direction. As you start to type words, autocomplete options appear. This lets you know those terms are popular searches.

If you want to get more detailed and targeted, though, consider using a keyword tool, such as Google’s AdSense Keyword Tool. This gives you a bigger picture, from number of monthly searches on a regional (U.S.) or global basis and the competition for keywords. When choosing keywords for SEO, factor in the following:

  • Long-tail keywords are best (phrases of two or more words).
  • Low competition keywords generate more organic traffic.
  • High monthly search numbers is better than low ones.

Aim to use at least two keywords for any piece of content to maximize the benefits of using keywords for SEO.

Keyword variation

Using keywords for SEO is not about using the exact same keyword repeatedly. Mix things up to get the most search engine exposure. Use different forms of keywords. For example, if a word in your long-tail keyword phrase is “dance,” use “dancing,” “danced,” “dances” or “dancer” occasionally instead. Search engines are smart, so they can identify the keywords as relevant.

Insert additional words between the words within your main keyword phrases. For example, if one of your keyword phrases is “salsa classes,” use “salsa dancing classes” as a keyword once too. Variation helps your keyword usage from being coined as keyword stuffing by search engines –something you want to avoid to rank well in search engine results.

Keyword placement

Use keywords for SEO most effectively by putting them in the right place within your online content. Your main keyword(s) should appear in the following locations in your content for the best results:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • Title of the content
  • First sentence of your first paragraph
  • Once each in subsequent paragraphs
  • Paragraph subheadings, when possible and appropriate

The worst thing you can do is stuff the keyword into the top half of your content. Not only does it make your overall content less relevant to search engines, but it creates awkward, keyword-stuffed reading.

Keyword density

Keyword density is the percentage of how often keyword(s) appear in your online content. Aim to maintain 2-4 percent density. Anything lower might not establish enough relevance. Anything much higher might get flagged as keyword stuffing, which attracts a penalty in the form of a lower rank on the major search engines. The best way to check your keyword density is with a free density checker, such as a live keyword analysis tool.

Content relevancy

Content relevancy when using keywords for SEO is more important than the keywords you select and where you place them. Weaving keywords seamlessly into relevant, useful and engaging content puts your content naturally higher in search engine results.

When you are a paid writer, keywords are likely supplied to you, but knowing how to identify and use keywords strengthens your writing either way. Selecting appropriate keywords and placing them strategically helps you rank well, and making keywords flow with your text is a must. Writing for SEO is not as important as writing for your audience first, so find a balance between relevant, engaging content and using keywords to optimize your online material.