A long time ago, way back in the far-away land of the mid-nineties, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King.” There’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard this before because, unlike frosted tips and denim-on-denim, this quote has actually aged shockingly well.
While more than 25 years have passed since Gates’ essay, his statement proves even more true each day. Content marketing has become essential; thus, it’s now more crucial than ever to understand how to correctly use keywords for blogging. Why?
Everywhere they go, consumers are inundated with ads. The more ads put in front of them, the less they see them. So when is an ad not an ad?
When it’s valuable to consumers.
And that’s where content marketing comes in. Instead of simply showing off a brand or marketing a product, content marketing focuses on providing information and entertainment that users enjoy.
This helps build brand awareness and recognition, increase brand loyalty, and much more. However, like most forms of marketing, content can’t rule all by itself. No matter how funny, well-written or informative your blog is, it’s going to need a little help from SEO.
Which is, of course, where keywords come in. Without a proper keyword strategy, it’s unlikely that your blog will gain much—if any—organic traffic. Keywords are how people find your blogs and are the cornerstone of basic SEO.
This article will cover the basics of using keywords for blogging, including why you need them, how to find them and how to properly implement them in your writing.
The Importance of Keywords in Content Writing
In the simplest terms, keywords are everything and anything that people are searching for.
If you’re looking for the best pizza in your city or trying to remember the name of that actor from that movie you watched last week (it was Ryan Gosling) the query you input tells Google what you’re looking for.
Part of a marketer’s job is to understand what people are searching for as it relates to a specific niche. If you’re doing the marketing for a pizza parlour in Toronto, someone searching for “best pepperoni pizza in Toronto” is a search query with relevant keywords.
Seems straightforward enough, but not all keywords are made equal.
Finding relevant keywords takes time and dedication, but the results are worth it. If you can correctly leverage strong keywords, you can improve your ranking on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), bringing your business a ton of organic traffic.
So why do you, as a content writer, need to know about keywords? Isn’t that the job of an SEO marketer?
As mentioned, the best marketing strategies are the ones that work together. SEO and content go together like peanut butter and banana (trust me, it’s a great sandwich). Without SEO, you’ll get far fewer views on your content; without content, SEO has very little to optimize for search engines.
Keywords Crash Course
One of the most important things to understand about incorporating keywords into your writing is that you’re not just picking one word or phrase and plugging it as many times as possible.
This is called keyword stuffing, and it actually works against you. Keyword stuffing is considered a black-hat SEO practice, and search engines have begun to penalize websites that do this. More on this later.
Fortunately, there are several different types of keywords to use, in addition to your primary keyword, so you should never feel the need to just repeat one over and over. Here’s a quick overview of the different types of keywords.
- Primary Keywords: These are the main keywords you’re trying to rank for on Google. If you’re writing a blog about different pizza toppings, your keyword might be Best Pizza Toppings.
- Keyword Variations: Using variations of your keyword is a great way to boost your SEO without keyword stuffing.
These variations provide greater context for Google, allowing its algorithm to display content more accurately to relevant users. Keyword variants can be anything, from moving the words around, synonyms, adding or removing words like “to” or “and” and more.
Some keyword variations for the above example might be best toppings for pizza or favourite pizza toppings.
- Longtail Keywords: Primary keywords are typically between one and three words. These can be harder to rank for as they’re very general. The person searching for best pizza toppings will discover tons of blogs and websites all offering what they’re looking for.
Longtail keywords are far more specific, making them easier to rank for (as you have much less competition). Some examples of long tail keywords might include best pizza toppings for thin crust pizza or best pizza toppings with pepperoni.
- LSI Keywords: Not to be confused with longtail or keyword variations, LSI Keywords are their own thing. LSI stands for latent semantic indexing, and these keywords are one of the most important factors for providing much-needed context to search algorithms. To continue with the pizza example, LSI keywords might be anything from “pepperoni” and “tomato sauce” to “delivery” and “Italian food.”
LSI keywords help Google’s algorithm better understand what your blog is about to ensure that the content it shows to users is relevant to what they were searching for.
If someone wants to read about pizza toppings, they’re not going to be pleased if the first result on the SERP is about the Julia Roberts movie Mystic Pizza.
Keyword Research: How do I find strong keywords?
There are a number of ways to ensure you’re choosing the right keywords for blogging. You can take a look at your competitors or those producing similar content and see what keywords they rank for and the content they used to do it.
The best method for keyword research is the one that produces the best results, so play around with some different methods and see what works.
Utilize Keyword Research Tools
When you’re conducting keyword research for your blogs, various tools exist to help you find the strongest keywords. These tools are great resources for doing general research on keywords and finding primary keywords.
- Google Keyword Planner: Google offers a free tool as part of Google ads. The keyword planner provides keyword suggestions and lets users sort keywords by search volume, competition and more.
- Ubersugest: Neil Patel created this excellent tool to help marketers find keywords, plan content and conduct competitor analysis without having to break the bank with platforms such as SemRush
Though the free model offers users a limited amount of keyword searches each day, the prices for subscriptions are far more affordable than competitors.
- Google Trends: Like the keyword planner, this tool is offered for free by Google. Entering a topic into Google trends allows you to see how popular that topic has been over time.
This is a great way to gauge if you’re writing about topics or including keywords that are still relevant to many people.
How to Find Longtail Keywords
Once you have your primary keywords, there are a number of ways to discover longtail keywords.
As discussed, longtail keywords are more specific than primary keywords and demonstrate more specific user intent. Because you’ll have less competition, it can be easier to rank for these keywords.
Use these tools to discover longtail keywords:
- AnswerThePublic: Recently acquired by Neil Patel and Ubersuggest, Answer the Public is one of the best resources for discovering popular user searches.
Enter a topic or keyword and view tons of searches related to your topic. This is another great way of finding longtail keywords, too. As with Ubersuggest, the free model offers a limited number of searches.
- Google Related Searches: When you type a query into Google, at the bottom of the SERP you’ll see a section titled Related Searches.
These are other similar searches to yours and are a great way to see what else people are searching for.
- People Also Ask: This is also built right into Google’s SERP. It’s usually located about midway through the page and shows questions people are asking about your topic.
- Google Autocomplete: A great way to discover longtail keywords is through Google’s autocomplete.
When you start typing your primary keyword in, Google will automatically provide suggestions for other similar searches.
Google’s autocomplete function, People also ask and Related searches.
How to Find LSI Keywords
Someone inputs the word Chicago into the search bar; are they looking for information on the city, the 2002 movie (or the play on which the film is based) or the American rock band?
A person looking to plan a trip to Chicago will probably be pretty annoyed if Google tries to sell them tickets to a play.
LSIGraph is an excellent way to discover LSI keywords to add greater context to your blog. It’s simple to use and provides fantastic results.
While LSI Graph no longer offers a free model, its platform is still highly affordable for marketers on a budget. Their monthly subscriptions start quite low, and they even offer a one-time payment option that gives users access to their platform for life.
How to Use Keywords When Writing Blogs
Now you know how to find keywords, but how do you use them? As we’ve discussed, it’s not just which keywords you use but also how and where you use them.
You don’t want Google to penalize you for keyword stuffing—using the same keyword repeatedly in the same text—but if you don’t use it enough, you might fail to get noticed by the algorithm.
Keyword Density: How many times should a keyword appear in an article or blog post?
So how many times should you be using your primary keywords? Twice, three times? Honestly, this is an ongoing debate within the marketing community.
The amount of keywords used within a text is referred to as keyword density. The recommended amount of keywords to content varies depending on how long your blog is.
However, setting aside complicated formulas for calculating the ideal keyword density ratio, it’s always good to remember that you’re writing for your readers, not the algorithm. If you’ve used your keywords (including variations and longtail) so much that it sounds unnatural, you know you’ve gone too far.
Below is an example of keyword stuffing.
Keyword: Gardening Tools
If you’ve ever wanted to find the best gardening tools to make tending your plants a breeze, this blog will discuss the best tools for gardening that every green thumb should have. Tools to garden with include trowels, spades, gloves, shears and more. These gardening tools are an essential part of taking care of your garden. Ensure you’re using the best garden tools available, and learn about other tools for gardens that you’ll absolutely love.
Just from reading that short paragraph, you can tell it doesn’t sound right. The keywords are used too frequently that it doesn’t read naturally. This is exactly what you need to avoid when using keywords for blogging.
Not only will Google penalize the keyword stuffing, but readers will be turned off and quickly quit your page (which in turn also negatively affects your SEO).
When, where, and how should keywords be placed?
Something else to avoid when incorporating keywords into your blog writing is prioritizing using the keywords exactly as they are over readability.
Keyword: Best Pizza Toronto
If you’re a pizza lover, you’ll want to know where to get the best pizza Toronto. The city of Toronto is filled with so many awesome restaurants and eateries, so we’ve put together a list of the best pizza Toronto.
This goes back to the importance of writing for people, not search engines.
Just like the first blog, the second doesn’t read correctly. Blogs like this are off-putting to readers, who will likely exit a page after just a few sentences.
Using prepositions with your keyword can help them to read more naturally and won’t affect your ranking. It’s much better to use best pizza in Toronto than risk increasing your bounce rate with sentences that just don’t make sense.
Use your keywords in a way that sounds natural and reads normally.
Another essential aspect of keyword placement, in addition to the how and when is where keywords should be placed. It’s not just the amount of times you use a keyword that counts towards your ranking; it’s also where you put them.
In addition to dispersing keywords throughout the main body of a blog, it’s also essential to SEO that you include keywords in a few other key places.
- In the page permalink
- In title tags (H1, H2, H3)
- The meta title tag
- In the first paragraph of the intro
- In the conclusion
- As anchor text
Inserting keywords in these places allows you to utilize your primary keywords more frequently and effectively and without the risk of keyword stuffing.
Using Keywords for Blogging: Key Takeaways
As a writer, knowing how to correctly utilize keywords for blogging is one of your most important assets. Effective SEO helps drive organic traffic to your page, gaining you more readers and allowing you to leverage your content for additional marketing purposes.
As Bill Gates proposed all those years ago, content is king. But if content is the ruling monarch, consider keyword research and SEO indispensable members of the court.
Using the right keywords is the best way to support your content and give it the boost it needs to really take off. After all, if you write a blog but no one’s around to read it, is it even really marketing?
To learn more about content marketing and how search engine optimization can support your marketing efforts, get in touch with a Techwyse expert or visit our blog for more invaluable marketing insights.