Do your palms start to sweat when you start to think about SEO and keywords?
If that sounds like you, I have some good news for you! Deciding on an SEO keyword for a blog post is easier than you think.
Today I’m going to walk you step-by-step through selecting the perfect keyword and what you should do with the keyword when you put a blog post together.
How Search Works
Have you ever wondered how Google determines what pages it returns when you search?
When you search, Google’s algorithm, which is set of instructions for the computer, runs and it comes back with search results. Google is looking for pages that have high quality, relevant information about the search request.
A site’s quality is determined by a variety of elements including how many outside websites link to a site, how much time visitors spend on a site, page load time, mobile friendliness and more.
Googlebots are constantly crawling (reading) websites and the content is evaluated and indexed. Content can then be determined if it is relevant to the search based on keywords.
All of these elements and more are used to determine what search results Google displays. As you can see, keywords are important, but other elements are as well.
Step 1: Think about Your Ideal Client
When determining a keyword for a blog post, you want to keep your ideal client in mind.
Ask yourself, “What is my ideal client searching? How would my ideal client search for the topic?” If you aren’t sure what your ideal client is searching for, start by conducting ideal client interviews. They are a great way to understand your idea client’s needs and wants.
Step 2: Brainstorm Keyword Ideas
You want your keyword to be specific, but not so specific that no one would ever search the term. Avoid single words because they are often too broad. Instead, select 2- or 3-word terms.
Brainstorm a list of keywords you could use in a blog post. If you need some inspiration, there are a lot of tools you can use to help generate keywords.
- Google Keyword Planner (you need to enter your credit card info, but you won’t be charged)
All of these tools are free (or have a free version), so I recommend trying them all out until you find your favorite.
Step 3: Select Your Keyword
Now that you have brainstormed a few keyword ideas and variations, determine which one makes the most sense for your blog post. Which term on your list is highly searched for and clearly illustrates to your reader what the blog post is about.
Step 4: Where to Put the Keyword
Once you have your keyword, you can start writing your blog post. Use your keyword just a few times in your blog post (2 or 3 at max). You want your writing be natural, not stuffed awkwardly with your keyword. Search engines can pick up on keyword stuffing (when a keyword is overused in a blog post or on a page).
The good news is, you can use variations of your keyword throughout your post, so pull out that list of keyword ideas that you’ve already put together.
Where to include your keyword:
- Post Title – Include your keyword in your blog post title (often times 4-9 words is suggested)
- URL – If your post title is long, you might choose to shorten it to just a few words, but always leave the keyword in tact
- Meta Description – The meta description shows up on a Google search directly below the page/post title and URL. While it is not mandatory to include your keyword, a more compelling meta tag will encourage prospective clients to click.
- Body Content – Include your keyword a few times throughout your blog post. The longer your post is, the more times you can include your word.
- Alt Tags – When adding an image to your blog post, be sure at fill in the alt text field. This helps Google to identify the subject of the image so it can show up in image search. (Not sure where to put your alt tag? This guide covers everything from optimizing images for web and where to add alt tags in WordPress and Squarespace.)
While it might seem like a lot of work to choose a keyword, really thinking about what your audience is looking for can help you come up with the best terms.
It’s also important to remember that keywords are just one part of SEO. If you need an SEO refresher, Beginner SEO Guide blog post is a great place to start.
If you want to learn even more about SEO, don’t miss my brand new workshop, Need to Know SEO, on Jan. 25! Hope to see you there!