When you search for information on keywords related to SEO, you are bombarded with information about keyword research. And of course, this is very important if you want your page to rank. But it is also important to understand what the basic principle of a keyword is. And that’s the thing I’ll explain here. I also share some suggestions on how and where to add keywords for SEO.
In this post:
What are keywords?
A keyword, of a focus keyword as some call it, is a word that best describes the content on your page or post. It’s the search term for which you want to arrange with a certain page. So if people are looking for it keyword or phrase in Google or other search engines, they should find the page on your site.
Suppose you have a website about pianos: you sell all kinds of pianos. You blog about what to look for when buying a piano, and you share reviews about the pianos you offer in your online store. You are selling digital pianos, so you have created a product category page about digital pianos. Ask yourself:
- What kind of search term do you want to be found for?
- What words do you think people in search engines would use to find you?
- What would the search look like?
Probably [digital piano], right? Because this keyword best reflects on the page. What would it look like if you had to explain the end of your content? What words would you use? This is your keyword or key phrase – if it consists of multiple words.
We use the word ‘query’ throughout; it does not mean that it consists of only one word. It often consists of several words. So when we talk about keywords, we often mean a phrase instead of just one word.
Read more: Keyword Research for Your Online Store »
Why are keywords important?
One of the things Google looks for when ranking a page is the content on that page. It looks at the words on the page. Now imagine: if every word on a blog post about a digital piano is used twice, all words are equally important. Google has no idea which of the words are important and which are not. The words you use are clues to Google; it tells Google and other search engines what the page or placement is about. If you want Google to understand what your page is about, you must do so use it fairly often.
But Google is not the only reason keywords are important. It’s actually less important because you have to always focus on the user: on your visitors and potential customers. With SEO, you want people to end up on your website when you use a certain search term or keyword. You have to get in the heads of your audience and use the words they use when searching.
If you use the wrong key phrase, you will never get the visitors you want or need, because your text does not match what your potential audience is looking for. But if you use the words people are looking for, your business can thrive. If you see it that way, you need to reflect keywords that your audience is looking for. With the wrong key phrase, you end up with the wrong audience, or not at all. Why you the right keywords is really important.
How to use keywords
There was a time when you could add a lot of keywords to your pages and posts, do old-fashioned keyword stuffing, and rank in search engines. But a text with many of the same words in it is not pleasant to read. And because users find this copy awful to read, Google also finds it awful. Fortunately, it has become difficult to rank on Google by filling in keywords. Currently, you need to add your key phrase in a natural way by writing focused content.
Use it sparingly
It’s a balance to get the right amount of keywords on your page. If you do not use your keyword enough, you will find it difficult to rank for the phrase. But if you use your keyword too much, your page becomes spam and unreadable, which can also make it difficult to rank.
You need to find the sweet spot where you use your keyword enough, but not too much. Make sure you do not put it in almost every sentence. In general, if your key phrase makes up 1 or 2% of all words in your copy, you are not exaggerate it.
Use it of course
In addition to trying to add enough but not too many keywords, make sure you include them in a natural way. Your keywords should be part of logical, coherent sentences that tell users something about the topic. Do not force keywords in text (or headings) where it does not make sense, or where it adds no value to your readers.
And that is not all. Make sure your keywords are all well distributed in your text. Do not put all your keywords in the first paragraph, because you think you are done with the optimization part. Distribute it naturally on your page or post.
Where to add your query
In addition to spreading your keyword phrase in your text, there are also a few other places where you need to add your keyword. Remember, always add keywords in moderation and put readability first!
- Page title and SEO title
You should always have your keyword in your page title. Ideally, you want to add it to the beginning of your title, especially if your title is long. The same goes for you SEO title, or meta title.
You need to add your keyword to some of your subheadings (H2 and H3), but not all of them. This is exactly the same as with the key phrases in your main text. Use your keyword in a heading or a few subheadings, depending on the length of your page or post.
The introduction is the first paragraph of the normal text on the page. Your introduction should get straight to the point so that Google and your readers know what you’re talking about. This is a great opportunity to include your keyword!
- Image alt text
Hopefully, your page or post contains an image related to the topic you are writing about. Add some alt text to your images and see if you can find a natural way to include your query.
- Meta description
Your meta description is part of the text that Google displays in its search results. It should contain a brief description of what users can find on your page. This is another great place to add your keyword too!
- URL -slak
The snail is the second part of a URL (web address) that identifies a specific page. The URL for this post is for example https://yoast.com/what-is-a-keyword/. The snail is the ‘what-is-a-query‘ Share. You should try to create clear, descriptive snails for each page you create, and if possible, include your key phrase in it as well.
The Yoast SEO plugin checks it all for you
Want to get the right amount of keywords in the right places? The Yoast SEO Plugin makes it a lot easier! Simply add your focus key phrase, and the plugin will automatically check the above points – including whether you use them too much, too little, and whether they are well distributed in your text.
These super useful features are available in both the free and Premium versions. However, if you upgrade to Premium, you can add more related keywords in addition to your keyword phrase, too!
Next: do query research
Now you have a general understanding of what a keyword or key phrase is. This knowledge will really help you with your query research, which is of course the next and important step!
Keep reading: Keyword Research: The Ultimate Guide »