In the past, SEO writers had one concept drilled into their brains when writing new content: make sure you include quality keywords regularly throughout the article. Though times have changed and Google has updated its search engine algorithms, this still remains true. Keywords are crucial to developing content that attracts both users and search engines and raises your webpage’s engagement rates. Let’s take a quick look at why keywords are still so important going into 2020.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are the core of proper SEO. Simply put, they are single words or short phrases that represent the content on a given webpage. They are the words that you would expect potential users to enter into a search query. Why is it so important to have them scattered throughout your article? Well, because when the search engine scours the web for whatever query the user entered, it will select articles and webpages that have the same or similar phrases.
Here is an example. Let’s say you are a personal injury law firm in New York City that wants to target Internet users who need help with car accident lawsuits. Keywords that your hypothetical user would enter into the search bar include phrases like this: “car accident lawyer in New York.” Good practice would be to pepper your article with that phrase or similar ones like “New York car crash attorney” or “car crash settlement law firm.” Having good keywords is often dependent on performing keyword research before writing your article. In fact, many SEO firms employ people to research effective keywords in local areas.
Moz has an excellent article on the concept of keyword research. Essentially, keyword research helps you identify the most popular words and phrases entered into search engine bars by users in a given area. If you are new to performing this kind of work, start simply. Come up with a single word or idea that captures the market you want to target, such as “car accident attorney” in our previous example. From there, use your knowledge of your industry to expand that topic to related fields.
Going off of our previous NYC law firm example, some of your branched-out keywords could include topics like paralysis injury attorneys, car accident compensation, car crash settlement negotiations, workers’ compensation and car wrecks, and much more. This branching out will lead to a web of topics that may be popular searches you can capitalize on. Online tools like Keyword Explorer can help you see how many times users in your targeted area performed searches with those or closely related keywords, letting you know which words and phrases are best to use in your article.
Using Long-Tail Keywords
The above examples use long-tail keywords, which are the more effective forms of keywords for smaller businesses. A long-tail keyword is essentially a longer phrase rather than a one- or two-word keyword string. One-word keywords are often too vague to be of help, or they are virtually monopolized by large corporations. For example, the word “amazon” will probably yield top results for the company headed by Jeff Bezos, and it is incredibly vague. The user who enters “amazon” could want information about the company, the famed rainforest, the fabled all-woman tribe, etc. With long-tail keywords, such as “Amazon rainforest acreage,” the search is likely to yield more specific webpages that are more likely to answer the user’s need.
When coming up with keywords to use in your SEO article, you want to focus mostly on long-tail keywords like “car accident attorney in New York.” Not only does this practice narrow down your potential engagement to the exact web users who are likely to need your services, but it also gives you a better chance at cracking into the top search engine rankings. Picking keywords is a careful operation, however. You do not want long-tail keywords that are too specific, as you can miss out on large sections of your potential audience. Doing keyword research with online tools can help you find the right balance.
Keywords Don’t Replace Content!
Inserting keywords into your article is one of the leading elements of having good SEO on your webpage, but it is not as simple as just adding these words as filler. Google emphasizes quality content and designs its algorithms to weed out articles that are SEO-bait rather than acceptable content. You want to make sure that your article addresses the question posed by the hypothetical search engine user, is structured well with an H1 heading and subdivisions that use H2 and H3 formats, is written in the “pyramid” structure that provides an answer upfront and then expands with further details as the article progresses, and is written with proper spelling and grammar.
Blue Pen Articles has a blog post on the essential elements of quality content writing for the web. Some hot tips are to make sure you include photos when necessary, bullet points to further explain and break up your text, create internal links between pages on your website, and seek links from outside sources. Search engine optimization is vital to engaging in today’s market, but good SEO articles provide interesting, pertinent, and captivating content to the reader.
Keywords are still important factors in search engine rankings, but they are not the only ones. One of the biggest indicators of poor SEO is bounce-back, or when a user quickly clicks away from the webpage. This is more likely to happen if you just throw keywords at an article, whereas a strong focus on quality content is more likely to keep readers on your site and boost your search engine rankings.