Keywords are a huge part of SEO and a lot of effort goes into researching and defining them so teams like ours can get to work optimising your website, making it more attractive for search engines, and allowing your customers to find you more easily. One of the most commonly known factors of improving your SEO is using the keywords in your copy on web pages. There are however plenty of myths and misconceptions about how keywords should be used for the best results. As a copywriter, one of the questions I get asked frequently is about the way to use these keywords effectively. So in today’s post, I’m going to go through just that.
In the beginning…
When SEO started, search engines like Google were a bit easy to fool. So cramming your web pages with the exact keyword or keyword phrases would likely have shown some strong results, as would placing all these lines of keywords in the same colour as your background so that you had literally thousands of that keyword out of sight from the user. Fast forward to now, and I hate to break it to you, but Google is smarter than you. It knows when you’re trying to cheat the system and it will penalise your website should you be employing any of these tactics, which we now refer to as ‘black-hat’.
Focus on the user
The key to modern and future SEO is understanding the fundamental vision that Google has which is to provide the user with the best possible experience, not a business with the best possible avenue of making sales. This means not only delivering the most relevant results, but serving up the pages that have the best content to solve the problem the user has. This user-centric thinking is not a new concept, particularly for Google, but time and time again we witness businesses not sharing the same user-centric mentality when optimising their websites.
Short and long-tail keywords
So now we come to keywords. These are the words or phrases that have been researched to be of value to your business’ products or services. There are two types; short-tail and long-tail. Short tail keywords are often singular words and long tail keywords are phrases. For example, if you’re a pet store, a short-tail keyword could be ‘puppies’ while a long-tail keyword could be ‘cavalier puppies for sale’. These words and phrases are measured by monthly average volume of searches and show what people are searching to find products/services like yours.
Understanding the user’s decision process
These short or long-tail keywords give you a lot of information about how close a prospective customer is to purchasing (or converting) from you. Short-tail keywords are used when people are just beginning their search. For example, if they’re searching for a laptop, they might try ‘laptops’ or ‘best laptop’. These broad keywords show that the consumer is really not sure what they’re looking for just yet. Long-tail keywords however indicate someone much closer to a decision. In the same laptop example, they might search ‘best ASUS laptops’ to indicate they’ve chosen a brand but not the model, or even ‘ASUS Laptop Model123 best price in Sydney’ to indicate they know exactly what they want and they’re ready to buy. Now we know the kind of phrases that your potential customers are searching, we can start to craft content for your main landing pages, and get a great blog going that answers the questions your users have.
Use keywords naturally
Keeping the user-centric way of thinking in mind as well as the relevance of keywords, let’s discuss how they work together. When crafting content, you want to ensure that you work in those keywords or key phrases naturally, so first and foremostly you need to know that a phrase doesn’t need to be in the exact order searched to catch Google’s attention. Let’s say a user searches ‘1 bedroom apartment for rent in Sydney’. Do you think they’d prefer to read this on your landing page;
“This 1 bedroom apartment for rent in Sydney is a 1 bedroom apartment for rent in Sydney offering a 1 bedroom apartment for rent in Sydney for just a 1 bedroom apartment for rent in Sydney”.
“Now available to rent is this gorgeous 1 bedroom apartment situated right in the heart of beautiful Sydney”.
Not a hard choice is it?
Keyword stuffing and why you shouldn’t do it
Now both of these examples have the keyword phrase in them, but the first is what we refer to as ‘keyword stuffing’. As you may have guessed from the name, it refers to the way keywords are stuffed into your copy without thought of how they’ll be read by the user and is the method mentioned above that is designed to trick the search engine into thinking it’s the most relevant option. Not only will keyword stuffing get your site penalised by search engines now, it makes your website look like spam and gives the user a very negative experience.
Working the keywords in naturally is the way to go as it serves two purposes correctly. Firstly, it uses the keywords to attract the search engines. Secondly, it provides the user with a proper sentence to read and engage with, providing a positive user experience.
Writing copy with value
The key to the correct use of keywords is to be natural, helpful and educational. Consider the user and the experience you want them to have on your site. It’s not about spruiking your product or service and plastering it everywhere on the web and on every single page, it’s about answering questions, providing relevant information and guiding that user where you’d like them to go next. Remember users will reach your website in different ways, not just through the home page, so when crafting copy you need to consider which pages are relevant to each other. What pages further their learning? Link to them in your copy. Can the user easily make a purchase or get in touch through the page? If not, ensure you have links to both of these well displayed and clear, but not intrusive.
Better your website with great content
Using keywords correctly in your copy is just one piece of the strategic puzzle. SEO is the consistent combination of online best practices to yield the greatest organic search results. If your copy reads like somebody’s made liberal use of the copy and paste functions, or doesn’t give the user any relevant information, then get in touch with me and the SEO team so we can get your website on track to be an important and beneficial resource to your business.