SEO Content Writing Tips: How To Use Keywords Correctly
Before the days of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, keyword stuffing and SEO content spinning was all the rage. While Panda and Penguin (and subsequent algorithmic updates) have made these methods completely irrelevant (thank goodness!), there are still some SEOs that are still using these keyword stuffing tactics.
While I won’t get into SEO writing examples of why articles made by a content spinner are basically worthless, I will, however, go over some SEO content writing tips and guidelines like how to correctly use keywords when creating content for SEO.
SEO Content Writing Tips
The purpose of optimizing articles for SEO is to help your content get found organically by search engines. You may have written the most amazing piece of content on the planet, but if it isn’t showing up on search engines you’re going to be missing out on that article’s full potential. When you invest time and money into writing good content, you want to make sure it has the best chance possible of being successful.
Here are some SEO content writing guidelines and tips to help illustrate how to use keywords in an article correctly and maximize your exposure on search engine results pages (SERPs).
1. Focus The Content Around 1 Primary Keyword Phrase
With SEO content writing, the best practice is to focus a blog post or article around 1 keyword phrase. One of the main reasons for this has less to do with SEO and more to do with how the content is initially created. Focusing the article on a single, primary keyword helps a content writer to write a better article about that one topic/idea instead of trying to perform a circus act and somehow tying lawnmowers to contact lenses within the same keyword article.
Not only does this guideline help the writer, but it helps the reader to better understand the main point of the information being presented, and makes the website content much more relevant to what people are searching for. It’s completely fine to pepper in a few other related keyword phrases within your SEO web content, but less is more in this case when it comes to relevancy and keywords.
Hierarchy of SEO Keywords Example:
See the image below for an example of keyword hierarchy. The Primary keyword should be the focal point of the article and should easily be the top theme presented. Other keywords inserted should be used to boost up and fortify the primary keyword’s presence as the main topic of the article. If you do this right, both readers and search engines will recognize the hierarchy just by naturally reading through the content.
Include the Primary Keyword in First and Last Paragraph
While the primary keyword should be used naturally throughout the SEO article (don’t force it!), there are some best-practice SEO content writing guidelines when it comes to placement. First, make sure you have the primary keyword somewhere in your first paragraph, ideally closer to the beginning. This again frames your keyword article in a way that search engines won’t be confused what the content is all about.
The same goes for the conclusion of the article – try to use an instance of your primary keyword. This way, you’re giving both search engines and your readers a clear idea of what your piece of content is all about. If it’s written and formatted well throughout, this should probably happen naturally – but it’s easy to double check before you publish it on your site so you might as well be looking for it.
Expert SEO Content Writing Guideline: Include Primary Keyword in Meta Description, Title Tag and URL
This probably sounds a little bit like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t use their primary keyword in the meta description, title tag and URL of the SEO article. These are three places that search engines look to crawl pages and quickly identify what they’re all about!
Since Meta descriptions are only about 160 characters and title tags even less, it shouldn’t be hard to do some word-smithing to include your keywords in these meta tags. Don’t waste any opportunities to gain an advantage when trying to learn how to write good SEO content!
2. Insert Related Keyword Phrases
These related keyword phrases are also known as secondary keywords. Secondary keywords should be very closely related to your primary keyword so that inserting them into your SEO content writing doesn’t change the focus of the article, but rather reinforces the primary keyword’s focus.
SEO Writing Examples of Unrelated Keyword Usage
An SEO content writing example of using unrelated keywords might look like the following. Let’s say you own a ski and snowboarding shop and you’ve narrowed down that one of your primary keywords should be snowboarding goggles. Here are some bad keyword examples you could choose as secondary keywords:
- skiing goggles
- snowboarding helmets
- snowboard coats
Pretty obvious right? The other thing to consider is that if your primary keyword is “snowboarding goggles” and you’ve decided to write an article about the best types of snowboarding goggles, then secondary keywords that might have been good are now off-limits. For instance, you wouldn’t want to include:
- snowboarding goggle accessories
- how to use snowboarding goggles
- why do you need snowboarding goggles
SEO Writing Example of Related Keyword Usage
A winning SEO content example of inserting related keyword phrases would include keywords that are just slightly different than the primary keyword or just have a few extra words attached. For instance, if your primary keyword were again snowboarding goggles, some great secondary keywords might be:
- best snowboarding goggles
- eyewear for snowboarders
- goggles for snowboarding
Expert SEO Content Writing Tip: Longer Guides Can Include MORE Secondary Keywords
That being said, if your SEO keyword article was going to be more of a long-form guide, including thousands of words, you may be able to insert a few keywords that would’ve previously been unrelated keyword phrases, just by nature of the content. For instance, if your article was a Guiding to Snowboarding Goggles you could include keywords like:
- Cost of snowboarding goggles
- Types of snowboarding goggles
- How snowboarding goggles differ from skiing goggles
- snowboarding goggle features
- snowboarding goggle brands
You’ll want to consider the length of your content and how broad the piece is to know if your secondary keywords might now become related when previously they changed the tone of the article too much.
3. Use Keywords in Headers
Once you’ve established your primary and secondary keywords, the next best SEO content writing tip is to utilize those keywords in your headers. Headers signify to both readers and search engines that the content contained in them is important for navigating the SEO article. Headers have a different HTML tag than paragraph text, so it’s an easy indicator for search engines to use to notify importance.
Because of that, it’s especially helpful to make sure your primary keyword is in at least one or two headers and then maybe a secondary keyword or two in any remaining headers. Again, you don’t want your secondary keywords to overtake the importance of your primary keyword in your content writing, so make sure to prioritize them in that order.
SEO Keywords Example in Headers
As far as an example of using a keyword in a header, if you’re doing it as you are writing the content then it should happen naturally and shouldn’t really need to be modified. But, many times you’ll find there are primary or secondary keywords that could have been used in the header but that the opportunity was just overlooked. Here is an SEO article example highlighting that:
Keywords that could be used:
- plumbing in New York
- plumber in New York
Bad Header Example: “Contact a Plumber Today“
Good Header Example: “Contact a Plumber in New York Today“
Good Header Example: “Get the Best Plumbing in New York“
See how easy that was? Just modifying a simple header to include the targeted keywords can say the same thing while maximizing your SEO optimization. Most of the time, you just have to be looking for it. And now, hopefully, you will be. 🙂
Expert SEO Content Writing Guideline: Use Headers Every 200-300 Words
Not only is this is a good tip from a readability standpoint, but it’s also great for allowing you to include more keywords in your content. Be careful, though, that you don’t overuse headers. You don’t want every single header in your SEO article to include blatant keywords or you may start to hurt readability and flow. But breaking up the content with more headers does mean you have more opportunities to splash keywords in without affecting the flow of the content writing.
4. Use Keywords Naturally in SEO Content
The key to implementing this SEO content writing tip is the word “natural”. Look at the picture above. Is it beautiful? Easy to look at? Impressive? Now imagine there was a big bounce house on the top of that mountain in the lake. Would that seem out of place, unnatural or jarring to the rest of the scene? The same goes for SEO articles. They can either read naturally, flow excellently and impress a reader, or they can jar the reader out of reality with a poorly placed, poorly chosen keyword.
There are lots of SEO writing examples out there that include keywords being used incorrectly. Here are a few:
Example of Using Keywords Unnaturally
Let’s say after doing your keyword research your primary keyword was “lawnmowers Atlanta”. Here is a keyword article example you shouldn’t replicate:
“When looking for lawnmowers Atlanta, you should talk to the experts at…”
You may laugh reading the example above, but there is still far too much of this type of bad SEO writing being published to the web every day. Not only does this type of bad keyword usage make the article less relevant, but it makes the content completely unreadable and unprofessional. Readers are already turned off by poor grammar and sentence structure, but obvious and blatant keyword insertion without considering readability is a huge no-no.
Example of Using Keywords Naturally
The bad example above shows keywords being used unnaturally in a sentence grammatically. It makes no grammatical sense to say “when looking for lawnmowers Atlanta…,“ however, it would make more sense to say to say the following:
“When looking for lawnmowers in Atlanta...”
When using a geo-location keyword, using connecting words such as “in” can make the keyword fit much more naturally within a sentence. These connector words are called stop words, which are words ignored by search engines. PLEASE make sure you’re doing this!
Expert SEO Content Writing Tip: Write for the Reader
When trying to use keywords in content you’ll sometimes run into strange phrases where you’re not sure how you’d insert it even with the help of stop words. If ever in doubt, always err on the side of a keyword phrase making sense from the reader’s point of view. If that means changing up the keyword to make it fit, then so be it. Trust in quality over technicality if ever they can’t be mediated.
5. Don’t Keyword Stuff
I really can’t stress this enough. Keyword stuffing is gluttonous and ultimately uncomfortable for both the reader and the search engine trying to crawl it. For those who need a reminder of what keyword stuffing is, it’s an old SEO practice of shamelessly putting your target keyword in your written content a bajillion times. It’s easy to spot and even easier to hate. Here is an example:
Keyword Stuffing SEO Example
“Nothing beats a good lawnmower in Atlanta. The best lawnmower in Atlanta will have sharp blades, a sturdy engine, and an affordable price. Do your research on how to find the best lawnmower in Atlanta. Using a quality lawnmower in Atlanta will ensure you have the best yard on the block.”
Keyword stuffing no longer helps content for SEO, but instead can get it in deep water if keyword densities are unnaturally high. A healthy keyword density range to stay within is 1-3% when using SEO keywords within your written content. Any more than 3% will throw the red flag and will essentially make your content useless.
Expert SEO Content Writing Tips: Use Tools to Help Avoid Keyword Stuffing
One of the best ways to avoid keyword stuffing is just to use online tools that other super smart people have already created. One such tool that we love to use is the Yoast SEO Plugin. Since we do all of our company blogging on WordPress, we’ve just downloaded this plugin and it automatically analyzes your content to see if you’ve used a keyword too many times (among many other things). It’s a way to track and tweak your content without having to remember everything from the get go. Try it out!
How to Write Good SEO Content
Great SEO content writing doesn’t have to be rocket science, but there is a creative science behind it. If you can master the subtleties of how to use keywords in an article while still providing high quality, engaging and informative content then you’ll quickly start winning the content marketing war.
The truth is that keyword usage will never go away, but making sure that you are giving your reader quality and useful information in your content should be priority #1. Optimizing this content for good SEO by using keywords can be done as long as you follow the guidelines presented.
For more SEO content writing tips and guidelines, check out some of our other content marketing posts.