Using SEO in Your Writing 3 - The Super Basics to Keywords
Keywords are the real meat and potatoes of search engine optimization, and are something I ideally would have covered first if not for some private requests to cover tags and links in my two previous articles on the topic of SEO optimization.
I say I ideally would have covered keywords first because they are the groundwork for literally every other part of your optimization.
So first let's talk about..
What are keywords?
Keywords are the bane of my job/essential to someone trying to climb in page ranking/a topic of obsession for internet marketers/our best friends/our worst enemies.
A keyword is a term or phrase you are targeting with your content in order to draw traffic in from people searching for that specific term or phrase.
"Well what does that mean!?"
I'm getting to that.
A super simple example would be... let's say you're writing an article on Reese's Pieces Adventure (whatever that is). Without any other goals, your keyword is 'Reese's Pieces Adventure'.
Let's back up a bit and say that you are writing on the newest Reese's Pieces Adventure DLC, the Thick Candy Shell pack. In this instance you would have two separate keywords: 'Reese's Pieces Adventure DLC' and 'Thick Candy Shell' (or 'Thick Candy Shell DLC').
These two phrases are something people would search for on Google or whatnot when looking for information on the new/upcoming DLC. People will probably not be searching for 'Reese's Pieces Adventure DLC Thick Candy Shell'. Why? Well, it's just too long.
Keywords are generally between 2 and 5 words, depending on how people are most likely to look something up. If you pay attention to your own search engine habits, you will see what I mean by 2 and 5 words being ideal. Don't think of this as a hard limit, but among most niches it is the most common amount of words searched at once.
Why does this matter?
Keywords matter because they are how search engines notice and index your content. When you search for something, you generally get results related to what you're looking for. Keywords are what tell search engines what something is about, at times specifically.
It is possible to make use of keywords without even paying much attention. Have you used a game title in your article title, in the body, and in the tags? It's going to get indexed under the broad niche of that title, but it's when you get to specifics is when it gets tricky.
The long and the short - I can't tell you how to choose your keywords
But I can give some advice
Would you believe there are people paid to do keyword research (looking for profitable keywords within a niche)? Well, there certainly are and there is a reason for that.
Choosing the keywords perfect for your content can be difficult if you are aiming for something very particular. When you are just using a game name for a keyword, it's one thing -- but when you're getting down and dirty with complicated topics, it gets much more confusing and difficult to choose your keywords wisely.
Every variation of a term has particular search results because content creators of all types aim for certain terms. An example: Google a game name, then 'guide'. Do it again, but with 'walkthrough' instead.
It takes a lot of time to whittle down the most traffic-heavy keywords within a niche, and honestly it's not something I recommend for writing something like news posts. It just takes too long for something every other gaming site out there is covering. However, if you are writing informational content in any way I highly recommend thinking about keywords. Use common sense for news articles.
Good optimization ensures your content is indexed properly, and perhaps highly depending on the quality, traffic, and incoming links.
Does my advice suck?
You can get started with Adwords by signing in with your Gmail account and taking care of the initial account sign-up process (filling in your timezone and then verifying).
Once done, you can finally find 'Tools' at the top of the screen. From there, choose 'Keyword Planner' and then 'Search for new keyword and ad group ideas'. You can, of course, poke at the other features inside but this is where you need to start.
I'll go over effective usage of this tool (and Google Trends, which is fairly self-explanatory) in a later guide. Searching for keywords and seeing their monthly search numbers is a good start, and one wouldn't expect someone new to SEO to grasp all that information right off the bat.
Our next article is going to go over keyword placement, which is the process of having your desired keyword(s) placed in particular areas of your articles to be best noticed. To go with the information sort of given in this article, here are some small points you can start with:
- Use your keyword in the title if it is grammatically correct. If not, don't be afraid to bend it a bit to make it look nice. As long as those words are there and in the right order, you should be fine!
- You want to use your keyword in the first paragraph of any article you write, ideally in the first sentence (but don't worry if you can't work it in there!).
- Do NOT use it so much that it takes up more of your article than it needs to. This means, don't use it in every paragraph.
- Be sure the keyword is in the last paragraph of your article.
- Ensure that it is in your tags
- Try to work it into the Skinny. (Did you know the Skinny is the text people see on search engines when one of your articles comes up?)
- Try your best not to make it too obvious you're trying to place a particular word or phrase in your article. If you can, that's great. If you can't, try to re-word things. If even then it won't sound natural, consider another keyword or changing it up a tiny bit (adding an 'a' or 'the' or whatnot).
And of course, feel free to ask loads of questions below. I'll be much quicker to answer them this time!