Updated: Jan 24
If you're new to digital marketing and writing content online, you will probably come across people talking a lot about keywords. Keywords are an essential component of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), a strategy that results in your content ranking higher in search engine results (ideally making it to page one).
In this post, I'll talk about what keywords are, why they are necessary for blogging, and how to use them in your blog posts. This isn't a step you can skip when creating content online. If you want your posts to rank well to gain leads and customers, you need to use every SEO strategy in the book, including keywords.
What Are Keywords?
To put it simply, keywords are words that people type into search engines when searching for something. For example, someone might search "content writing copywriting differences", or "women's work shoes". Keywords aren't just restricted to one word; they can be entire phrases or snippets of condensed language.
Keywords are the bridge between the content you write and what people are searching for (source: Moz). When someone types a phrase into a search engine, the search engine shows what it considers to be the most relevant results based on the keywords on each web page (amongst other SEO factors)
There are two main types of keywords:
Short-tail - keywords composed of only one or two words
Long-tail - keywords composed of more than two words
Let's use "women's work shoes" as an example. The word "shoes" on its own is a short-tail keyword. Short-tail keywords are more generalised, and therefore more competitive on search engines to rank for. Long-tail keywords are more specific, and therefore less competitive to rank for.
For example, "women's shoes" is more specific than "shoes" (although arguably still a short-tail keyword), and "women's work shoes" is even more specific than that. So when choosing keywords for your content, make sure you aim for specific and short-tail keywords to boost your chances of ranking well in search engines.
Why are keywords important for blog posts?
Like any other piece of content online, if you want a blog post to be found and read, you need to use keywords. Keywords tell search engines what your piece of content is about and if used in the right way while supported by other SEO techniques, they help your content to rank higher in the search engine's algorithm.
If you don't bother to use keywords to your advantage, you'll be putting your blog posts at a disadvantage - let's face it, not many people look beyond the first page of search results.
So, how do you use keywords effectively in your blog posts? I have three quick tips for you that will help you do just that.
3 Tips For Using Keywords Effectively In Your Blog
1. Take time to research
It's no good choosing random keywords and hoping for the best. You need to make sure the keywords are right for each post and will give you the best chance of ranking well.
The best way to do this is through research. There are plenty of keyword research tools out there to help you do this, such as
These tools range from free to premium, so it's up to you which you choose.
When researching keywords, it's a good idea to keep a spreadsheet of keywords you come across. Categorise them by importance, relevance, and whether they are short or long-tailed. This way you can build a bank of keywords that you can target in different posts or topics.
Remember to take your time on this. Keyword research can lead you down a rabbit hole of possibilities, so it's important to filter out those that are relevant and those that aren't.
2. Use primary and secondary keywords
When doing your keyword research, you will create a long list of possible keywords for your posts. Among these, there will be some you can use as your primary keywords (i.e. the main keyword you want your page to rank for), and some as your secondary keywords.
Secondary keywords are useful in that they expand on your primary keywords and help you to bring in a more specific audience (source: CoSchedule). Using women's shoes as an example again, "women's shoes" can be the primary keyword, while "women's work shoes" is the secondary. This differentiates between those seeking women's shoes in general, and those seeking women's shoes for work.
This is why it's so important to follow the first tip and do some thorough keyword research. The more you have at your disposal, the easier it is to target those specific audiences and rank higher on search engine results.
3. Don't stuff 'em
My final tip for you is not to spam keywords in your blog posts. This is called "stuffing", and is frowned upon by search engines now. If you shove your keyword multiple times into every single sentence, it will negatively impact your search rankings (source: WebFX).
The way to avoid this is to write as naturally as possible. I write my blog posts as if I am speaking to the reader (with some edits of course), so I have the best chance of creating a natural flow of writing. This means my keywords fit smoothly into the content without the need for spamming and stuffing.
Always remember that your readers come first when writing content online. Search engines will reward you if your content is clear, natural, informative, and relevant to those keywords.
Keywords are an important step in optimising your blog posts for search engines. If you want your content to reach that coveted first spot on page one, you need to use those keywords effectively.
You must do some thorough keyword research as part of your content planning strategy to create a detailed list of primary and secondary keywords. It's also important to remember not to stuff keywords into your content - search engines will penalise you for that and rank your content lower.
Above all, write your blog posts for your readers first. Search engines reward content that is easy to read, high-quality, and structured well. If you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to creating content that readers and search engines will love!