Using Your Keywords
Now that you’ve read my last few posts about keyword research, if you’ve done your homework, you may be staring at your list of keywords and asking “Now what?” My final post in this series answers that question.
Your Content Buckets
In Keyword Research: Getting Started, I suggested that you create five to ten content buckets or categories representing general topics that you’d like to rank for.
Once you’ve done that, assign your selected keywords to the appropriate buckets.
Short-tail keywords can be up to three words in length and are usually somewhat generic. They are searched for frequently, but there is usually a lot of competition for that traffic.
Long-tail keywords, usually consisting of three to five words, tend to be more specific. People searching for these terms are more likely to subscribe to your emails, become loyal followers, and/or purchase your services than those looking for general information. For this reason, even though long-tail keywords are searched for less frequently, they may actually be more effective.
Using a blend of both types of keywords is a balanced strategy that will give you the best of both worlds.
Where to Use Keywords in Your Content
Once you’ve finalized your list of keywords, start incorporating them into your content.
Fully optimizing your content for SEO can be complicated, but installing an SEO plugin for WordPress, such as Yoast SEO, will make it easier.
Begin by using your keywords in the following areas.
The title for each page and blog post should include a keyword related to the content of that page or post. Making it clear what the page is about will help it rank higher in the search results.
Sometimes you may want to display one title for your website visitors and a different, keyword-based title for search engines. Your SEO plugin will allow you to display a different title in Google results (your SEO title) than the actual page or post title.
For example, the title of my About page is About Me. I don’t think anyone is going to search on that! So, my SEO title is Janet Barclay’s Bio | Web Designer.
It’s beneficial to include your keywords in both places, but you can include up to 60 characters in your SEO title, which is usually more than you’d want to appear on the page itself.
The meta description is a brief summary of a page’s content that appears in the search results to help searchers decide if it’s what they’re looking for. That makes it an excellent place to use keywords.
If you don’t enter a meta description, Google will just grab the first 160 or characters from the page. That’s not always meaningful, so in most cases you’ll want to customize it in a way that attracts readers and includes SEO keywords.
Keep in mind that Google will often select the portion of the page they consider most relevant to the search and display that instead of your meta description.
Headings and Subheadings
Using headings and subheadings makes your content easier to read, and when you incorporate your keywords, it has the added bonus of showing Google what the content is about.
The best way to structure your headings is by using the heading styles built into WordPress.
Use keywords and related terms throughout your content, but don’t go overboard. Keyword stuffing will not only make your content difficult to read but will actually harm your SEO. Making your content readable and understandable for humans is far more important!
When you’re finished, review your content to see if there are additional keywords or semantic keywords (see Keyword Research: What You Need to Know) you can include without compromising the intent of the content. Remember, it’s better to write quality, useful content than to include every possible keyword.
Measure Your SEO Effectiveness
As well as allowing you to add an SEO title and meta description, your SEO plugin is a great tool for measuring the SEO effectiveness of your content.
Enter the keyword you’ve chosen for that page or post and read the Analysis section for suggested improvements.
Keep in mind that the plugin can only tell you how well you’ve optimized for your focus keyword; it can’t tell you whether you’ve chosen a good one.
Once you’re satisfied that you’ve done all you can, you’re ready to publish your content!
SEO is not a “one and done” activity but one that requires continuous effort. This includes keyword research.
Regularly analyzing the performance of your content for specific keywords is crucial. This data can help you refine your keyword strategy, identify underperforming content, and make necessary improvements.
You may also need to introduce new keywords to adapt to changes in the needs of your target audience and search engine algorithms.
By understanding that keyword research is an ongoing process, you can consistently enhance your website’s search engine rankings, draw more organic traffic, and stay in sync with the constantly evolving digital landscape.
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