Before you start writing your next blog post or creating any other type of content, take a minute to think about how someone would search for the specific information you plan to add. What words or phrases would YOU use in your favorite search engine search box to research your subject? What words would your friends and family who don’t know as much about that subject use?
Make each post or page about ONE subject best described by a specific two to three word phrase.
These words and phrases are called keywords or keyword phrases. While some appear to advocate targeting one KEYWORD which I would not agree with, it appears he actually means one PHRASE and that is exactly what I do recommend.
Why Keyword Phrases Instead of One Keyword
Targeting one word, especially if it is a common or very competitive word, is not going to be nearly as effective as targeting a two or three word phrase.
Here are some examples:
- If you sell gifts online create individual pages to target specific phrases like groomsmen gifts, Father’s Day gifts, corporate gifts and engraved gifts instead of just “gifts”
- Wedding vendors should target wedding planning, wedding planner, wedding planners and planning a wedding or OKC Wedding Planner or Tennessee Wedding flowers or Sacramento Wedding DJ – Use your niche or location instead of the single, too general word “wedding”
- If you offer services in a specific geographic area, instead of “mechanic” target Dallas mechanic, mobile mechanic Dallas and Dallas car repair
- If you sell Gazebos only in Texas, while you might target “gazebo” you’ll have more success using Texas Gazebos, Gazebos Waco, Gazebos TX and TX Gazebos – This business had a Web site with pages that targeted locations and specific types of gazebos and even misspelled versions of the word gazebo until their friend talked them into letting him build them this far less effective site and lost all those pages and search listings. They aren’t the first nor will they be the last business owner I know who could have used our post What Not to Do With Your Existing Site When You Upgrade or Remodel.
Create 1 Page or Post to Target Each Keyword Phrase
The more individual pages you create that each target a specific phrase the more likely your site will be found in organic search. This is not something that you can do overnight. While there are automated ways to create these pages if you have advanced skills, anyone can create quality content over time.
Decide on the appropriate keyword phrase before you start writing and only use one keyword phrase for each page.
You may have to use your imagination to create unique content especially where you wish to be found in many locations. It usually is not necessary to use the names of every town; in places where most people shop in a major city they will often automatically search in the closest larger city.
USE YOUR KEYWORD PHRASE:
- In the name and as the URL of the page – [Example: the URL of this page is select-keywords and the phrase appears in the title.]
- As the title on the page – be sure to use a Title tag – some believe the first three words are the most important so in this post “Select Keywords” appears first. [Avoid using these special characters in titles: & % * @ “(quote marks)]
- Name images using Alt Image Tags
- Throughout the content include each variation and inflected form of the words and phrases: plural and singular, past and present tense when applicable.
- In the Keyword meta tag field
- In the Description meta tag field
- In header tags. You may notice that the additional resources titles in this blog use H4 and are specific to the links found in them
- Keywords closer to the top of the page and in bold or italics are considered slightly more important
WordPress, WordPress plugins like All-in-one-SEO, and advanced themes like Thesis and Genesis either provide fields for the above information or automatically handle many of the above tags for you. If you have specific questions ask in the comments and I can provide additional details specific to your circumstances. Be sure to be as specific as you can and include what CMS, blogging platform or type of program you are using so if I don’t have the answer someone else can provide it.
Use Variations of Your Keywords
While you want to target your specific phrase, consider also using variations of those key words within your page content. You may choose to target these other forms in specific pages later, but it won’t hurt to mention them in your current content.
USE THESE KEYWORD VARIATIONS:
- Singular and plural: gift, gifts /car, cars
- Inflected form of the words and phrases: engrave, engraved, engraving, engravable
- Past and present when applicable
- Synonyms are usually best targeted with separate pages (car, vehicle, automobile, auto)
It is imperative that you clearly understand what keywords to use and which are too broad or too specific. In Evaluating AdWords accounts I regularly saw businesses targeting words that would NEVER work. You can not expect to rank for words that are too generic and not included in a phrase with your target product or service. You don’t want to buy that traffic and you are highly unlikely to rank for it in organic search.
It is very countries, states, major cities, or any word that applies to hundreds or even thousands of products. For example, Good Millwork would not be able to rank for the word “wood” but certainly should target phrases like these:
- wood shutters
- wood baseboards
- wood moldings
- wood cabinet moldings
They are unlikely to rank for mahogany but should certainly target mahogany moldings. They should never target the word “crown” but the phrase crown moldings is so important to them that they definitely want to target all the variations:
- crown molding (singular)
- crown moulding (alternate spelling)
- crown mouldings (plural of alternate spelling).
They should (and do) also couple crown molding with other words like red oak crown molding or maple crown molding while not targeting “red” or “oak” or “maple” for the same reason they can’t rank for the words “wood” or “crown”. I hope you’re getting the idea.
Expand With Very Specific Keyword Phrases / Long Tail Phrases
They can also target more specific wood phrases like Fire Resistant Wood or reclaimed Cypress wood. Apply these examples to your own products and services. If this is not crystal clear do ask questions in the comments. For every person courageous enough to ask there are dozens more who have the same question.
Incorporate your selected keywords and phrases into what you write. Your posts and pages will be much more concise and targeted. Doing so will ensure they receive more search engine traffic
Proper selection and use of keyword phrases is one of the most basic and important concepts to understand when using the Internet to grow your business. Apply these basics to your content to grow your business.
KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOLS
- WordStream – Free online tool that allows you to easily copy your lists
- Free version of WordTracker
- Google Keyword Tool
I recommend using the WordStream tool linked above to generate lists and then saving them in a keyword searchable program like Tomboy Notes. As you write posts be sure to cover each of your most important phrases. I paste the URLs of the posts targeting each phrase next to the keywords. This is especially important if you have many similar keyword phrases or write about many similar products.
RESOURCES ON USING KEYWORD PHRASES:
- NEW: MarketingTechBlog: Ten Rules of Keyword Usage for Search Engine Optimization
- SEO Tips for Niche Marketers
- SEO Keywords Tips and Tricks; What, Where and Why
- Stalking Lee Odden’s Title Tags
NOTE: Originally published May 30, 2009. Updated and republished 2/2/15. Added SlideShare and custom video produced by Julie Weishaar of NewHorizons123.com @NewHorizons123 2/5/15.
- Keyword Research Tools
- Building Traffic (includes keyword research tools
- How to Start an SEO Campaign for Your WordPress Site [Screenshots]