Using keywords for inbound marketing is important. You know, we know, every marketer worth their salt knows. Their relevance fluctuates, but no matter what updates Google roll out, keywords will remain important.
That said, not everyone really understands keywords. Even experienced marketers don’t always understand exactly how to use them for best effect. So we’re here to make it simple: this is what you need to know.
What are keywords for?
A keyword has two main roles. The first, and the most important, is to keep your topic on track. If you know what keyword you’re targeting, you will only write about that topic. This means your reader will know exactly what they’ll gain from the post and you’ll be sure to deliver it. If you find another topic trying to sneak its way in, jot the idea down and give it its own post.
The second role is SEO. Using keywords correctly will help you to rank highly in search engine results. The higher you rank, the more likely it is that a searcher will click on your post, visit your site, convert into a lead and, of course, become a customer.
The difference between long tail and short tail
Think of your keyword as a container. The short tail container is wide and shallow, like a punch bowl. Anyone can dip in and enjoy the contents. Short tail keywords cover a broad topic for a broad audience.
Your long tail container is a champagne flute. The width is narrow but there is considerably more depth. The content of this container is also more refined. These long tail keywords cover a specific topic, but to an accurate, informed degree.
For a blog post titled ‘5 best pieces of software for internet security’, the short tail keyword is ‘internet security’. With this, you’ll not only struggle to rank highly on search engines, but you may also attract people looking for different topics within that broad term.
‘Best software for internet security’ is a more targeted keyword, directly related to your post. Fewer people will be searching for that specific term, but the ones who do are looking for what you’re writing about.
Where to put your keywords
When it comes to a blog post or a web page, a good rule of thumb is to include your keyword, or at least a variation of it, in the:
- Page title
- Title tag
- Meta description
- Image alt text
- Main body
If you’re struggling, think about why. It might be that you have a very niche post or an op-ed piece where that won’t quite work, and that’s fine. But more often than not it suggests you haven’t selected a keyword that accurately sums up what your post or page is talking about.
There should be one, overarching, consistent message or idea – so keep digging to find it.
Don’t over do it
The number of times you should include your keyword in a blog post is relative to the length of the piece. Aiming for a keyword density of between one and three percent is ideal. For example, if you have a 500-word blog post, you should use your keyword roughly five to ten times.
Be wary of keyword stuffing. Read your post aloud and if it sounds obvious that your keyword is repeated you need to do some editing. Not only could you be penalised by Google for stuffing, it also makes a poor reading experience for the audience.
Mix it up
How do you get the right keyword density without repeating your keyword, though? Well, Google ‘gets’ semantics. It knows that ‘IT department’ and ‘IT team’ likely refer to the same thing.
You don’t need to repeat your keyword phrase exactly every time. Mix it up a little to help your keyword placement look more natural.
It’s not the be-all and end-all
The most important thing to remember when using keywords for inbound marketing is that they are just one element. Keywords are a branch of SEO, not the whole tree.
If you have the best keyword strategy but you don’t tick any other SEO-related boxes, it doesn’t guarantee you first place in Google’s search results. That said, not using keywords at all will hinder your progress, so help yourself and take the time to find the right keywords for every piece of content you write.
Next week, we will cover some of the best free tools to find the right keywords. If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe to our blog (see just below) for updates.