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keyword3The concept of working with ‘keywords’ in your blog content can seem overwhelming and difficult for beginners, but is really not that hard. There are three basic steps to incorporating keywords into your content:

  1. Research
  2. Creative writing
  3. Linking

Before we get into those, let’s talk about ‘why’.

Keywords are basically the anchor text of your article that help readers, and search engines, determine your relevance. In terms of ‘relevance’, there are no wrong answers; you are not trying to be relevant to a common standard. Rather, you are trying to be relevant to your own chosen topic.

For instance; If you are writing about ‘humanitarianism’, you will want your keywords to be relevant to the subject of ‘humanitarianism’. Relevant terms could be ‘philanthropy’ or ‘charity’. Conversely, you will want to avoid a concentration of key words that are not relevant such as ‘Brittany Spears’ or ‘horseback riding’. Unless, of course, your humanitarianism involves giving a horse to Brittany, but you get the picture.

It all has to do with ‘relevance’. Relevance is how closely related your keywords are to the subject you most want to be indexed for in the search engines. As the search engines scour your post for relevant keywords, they will choose the predominant topics and use those to index your article. In this way, a reader can find you when they search for ‘humanitarianism’ in a search engine. The key for you is in making the relevant keywords within your article easy to identify. The easier it is for a search engine to determine the keywords in your article, the more prominent you will be in the search results for your given topic.

Research

One of the most daunting tasks in effective blogging is in finding the most appropriate keywords. It’s not that hard, but does take a little ‘know-how’.

The first steps in your research are to determine the subject of your article, to outline topics, and to write down your assumed keywords. Assuming keywords is easy; just imagine what your audience might type into a search engine in hopes of finding your specific article.

Next, you’ll want to conduct some scientific research to confirm your choices, or to find viable alternatives.

A great tool for this task is found at http://google.com/keywords . The keyword research tool at Google is as good as any, and takes advantage of Googles remarkable collection of data. Once you enter your assumed keyword idea in their form, and get past the annoying-but-necessary captcha, you’ll be presented with a spreadsheet of data that now requires some study.

Listed in order of relevance, with the most relevant term at the top, you will see a list of related terms with information about how much competition there is for the term, and how many local searches and global searches have been conducted on the term in the last month.

keyword1Your job now is to find keyword alternatives that have a good balance of competition vs hits. The higher the competition value, the more the keyword is used in other blogs and the lower the chances are for you to stick out among the crowd. High competition keywords are tempting because of the high number of hits they usually receive. However you may do better by selecting a low competition term and shooting for a greater piece of a smaller pie. You don’t necessarily need to avoid high competition terms, so long as you are working in the lower competition ones, too.

Note that further down in the spreadsheet you will find a list of alternative terms that may help in your creative writing exercise.

keyword2Creative Writing

Perhaps the most difficult step in your effort to incorporate keywords, creative writing now requires that you come up with a story, and develop the ability to include terms in an appropriate density. You’ll want to include as many as 10 percent keywords to your SEO copywritng. Tricky, but over time it becomes second nature. Ten percent may be a bit too much for some articles, so shoot for a minimum of five percent.

It is also important to maintain ‘human readability’. The search engines understand language, grammar, and punctuation, so you will want to pay attention to these important aspects of writing to avoid appearing as spam and receiving an index penalty. Write your article in natural language, and use keywords as often as you can without creating lists or appearing to be blatant.

Be sure to modify your keywords with localization as well as with descriptive terms. There are two ways to modify your keywords;

  1. With a descriptive modifier, so that if our primary keyword is ‘humanitarian’, we can say ‘humanitarian relief’ to make it a stronger keyword phrase.
  2. With a localization such as ‘Miami Humanitarian’, which helps the search engines localize my search index for people within the Miami area searching for the term ‘humanitarian’.

Localization has become one of the most important aspects of keyword usage because of the mobile revolution, where people search from a mobile device to find local products and services. The search engines have responded with more localized search results and listings. You can take advantage of this simply by adding the name of your town in front of a keyword.

Keyword Linking

Finally, be sure to link your keywords to appropriate pages around your site, or to an appropriate page on your home site. A few rules of thumb to consider include:

Don’t link excessively. In a 300-word article it is appropriate to link 3-4 keywords. More and you will appear to be spamming, and will dilute the authority you are giving to each keyword. (Authority is a measurement of strength based on the relevance of the article.)

Don’t link a specific keyword more than once; no need to waste authority on the same keyword. Keep it simple for the search engines to follow, and don’t waste their time by leading them to the same place from the same keyword multiple times.

Use alternate tags to add information to your links. This is a great way to help the search engines understand more clearly your terms and their specific modifiers.

I talked about keywords in this week’s tech call with Paul Jensen. Here’s an excerpt if you’re the listening type: