Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste an excellent keyword?
If you know how to do keyword research, but you’re still not really sure about how to use keywords in blog posts… listen up.
Firstly, there’s something critical you must know when using keywords for blogging.
I’ll tell you what this is, and…
I’ll also give you 9 solid ways so you know how to use keywords in blog posts for maximum effect.
If readers don’t like what they find when they get to your post and they click away, that’s a signal to Google that the keyword and your content is not a good match. 😮
So, the bottom line is – Google only takes notice of your keyword optimization efforts if readers like your post enough to stick around.
Today, keyword ranking on Google is mightily biased towards whether you’re able to keep readers happy or not. Do this and Google will reward your keyword efforts. If not… meh!
This means you can’t just write a so-so post based on a good keyword. You also can’t just add a keyword to a post randomly or haphazardly, believing it’s enough. It isn’t!
You must be strategic and smart. Not only must you write the best post ever, you must also become skilled at adding your keyword to your content so it integrates naturally and seamlessly. As with most skills, you’ll get the better at this with practice.
Your number one priority is to write for your reader first, not Google. But… you’ve still got two “bosses” to impress, which means you must know how to use keywords for both readers and Google.
Here’s how to do it:
#1 Use a long tail keyword
Doing this means you’ll improve your chances of targeting readers who are action takers.
Secondly, provided you know how to research for long tail keywords that get your posts found, you’ll improve your chances of ranking your post well in search results. That’s because long tail keywords have the potential to be less competitive.
Readers who search using long tail keyword phrases, consisting of four or more words, are generally regarded as more serious about a topic than those who use shorter keyword phrases.
This means they’re more likely to be action takers when they find what they’re looking for. i.e your post.
Starting with a captive audience makes the job of impressing them a breeze because they’re ready and eager to take action… as long as you can give them what they want.
Because long tail keywords are more detailed and specific, you don’t have to guess what what readers want to know, and that helps you give them what they expect.
Look at the examples on the image below to see what I mean. Which of the keywords below give you the most clues about what to write a post about?
#2 Use the keyword in your title and URL
Putting your keyword in the title is critical, not only for search engines but to get the attention of real people.
It’s readers who will see your title and either click through or not and adding your keyword to your title is also one of Google’s ranking factors.
At the same time as adding your keyword to the title, you must also come up with a title that’s engaging and irresistible, so readers want to read what you have to say.
Most WordPress themes will set the title of your post as the H1 tag and the title tag by default. The H1 tag is the largest font size you can use and is what readers see on your page. The title tag is what displays in search engine results. It’s the link searchers will click on
If you use an SEO plugin you can change your title tag. I would only recommend doing this if you have a good reason. For instance, you might consider doing this if the title you want to display on your post is too long to display correctly in search results.
When people search using a detailed specific keyword phrase and they see that same phrase mirrored back to them in your title, it tells them in no uncertain terms that they may have found exactly what they’re looking for.
Since Google typically shows the first 60 characters of your title in search results, title tags should not be too long if you want them to display correctly.
The keyword must be as close the start of your title as possible otherwise it might get cut off and minimize the impact you’re trying to make.
URLs that include keywords do not play a major role when it comes to your post’s ability to rank but it’s still an SEO ranking factor so why not get all the juice you can?
More importantly, keywords in your URL can improve your site’s search visibility. This improves the user experience which Google does regard as important.
Let’s consider the long tail keyword, ‘how to stop dogs barking at night’. Look at the following two post title tags as displayed in Google search results.
This is a great example of how to use the keyword at the start of the title tag. Also notice how they didn’t stop with the keyword. The last piece, ‘with proven techniques’ goes on to woo the reader some more, giving them a good reason to click on the link. You’ll also notice the keyword in the URL. 🙂
The above title tag is not as effective as the first. For starters they have used a different keyword at the start of the title. The keyword they’ve used is insanely competitive. They would have been far better off focusing on the long tail keyword since that’s what the post is about.
Secondly, the title does not make sense. It’s too long so the last part has been cut off. Also the keyword does not appear to be in the URL as displayed here which means less effective visibility.
A nifty tool I use to check what my title tags will look like on Google is Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool
#3 Use the Keyword at the Start of the Post
One of the ranking factors Google considers is whether a keyword appears in the first 100 words of a page’s content.
From a reader’s point of view, after your title, your opening line and paragraph is the next thing people use to decide if they want to continue reading or not. Lose them in the first few sentences and it’s all over.
The question is can you integrate your keyword into your opening paragraph creatively so it makes for easy reading ? Or do you just dump it in the first few lines in any old way so it screams, “I’m a keyword”?
An easier and popular way to get the the keyword into the opening paragraph is to reference the title. Of course this only works if you’ve used the keyword in your title.
So an example might be:
In this article, “How to Stop Dogs Barking at Night”, I’m going to show you…
When you’re really stumped and can’t come up with a more creative alternative, then I suggest using the above method, but I would do so as a last resort.
It doesn’t make for captivating reading. Too many lazy bloggers use this, too often. This means all their posts sound the same. If you want to stand out, then challenge yourself to come up with something more creative.
It didn’t take me too long to come up with this as an alternative.
“If you’re desperate to find out how to stop dogs barking at night, then you’ll know just how much of a problem this can be.”
#4 Use the keyword in the body of your post
This relates to Google’s density factor requirement. In short using the keyword a few times in your content is an indication that your article is relevant and appropriate.
How many times should you use your keyword ?
I don’t think it’s even worth trying to figure this out. It’s fine to use your keyword two or three times in the body of your post, maybe even more if your post is very long.
Remember not to overdo it so you don’t set off Google’s keyword stuffing penalty filters in which case your ranking will be penalized.
This keyword density factor is closely related to two others: the content length and whether the topic has been covered in depth.
Google is looking for a lot more than shallow content built around a keyword.
They want to make sure you give the reader the best and most complete information possible that relates to the keyword.
Make sure your writing flows naturally and wherever you use your keyword, that it makes sense in the context of what you’re writing about.
Add as much related information and use as many related search terms as you can. This will ensure your post is relevant and detailed enough which will impress your reader and consequently, Google.
There’s an easy way to do this…
In fact Google gives you all the information you require. You just have to combine it in your way.
Here’s how Google helps you:
Firstly type your keyword into Google and look at the links on the first page. These are the posts they’ve decided are the best matched sites for the keyword. I’d say it’s very worth checking them out wouldn’t you?
Even before you study the content in any detail you will get plenty of clues from the title tags and meta descriptions on the page. Have a look at the following five results on the first page for this keyword to see what I mean.
The last thing you want to do is copy any of these posts. Rather you want to build an outline for your post. Take the best of what you see on the first page of results and combine the elements to create a framework for your post.
Then write an article that covers the information from your perspective.Choose the best bits, add what’s not there, give it your spin and add your personality. Voice your opinions and offer your personal experience.
If possible add to the content if you have ideas that nobody else has written about.
Make a note of search terms used in the published posts that are similar to your keyword and use them too. Using more related keywords that you can rank for on the page may give Google an indication of the quality of your blog post and help your article’s ranking.
Best of all, when you type a keyword into Google, they give you search terms related to the one you’re using. Just head down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see something like this:
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to use everything listed, nor should you. But doesn’t it make sense to see if you can use some of the more relevant terms in your post, maybe even as topics within you post?
It doesn’t stop there though, Google gives you even more information to help you. I can’t actually believe they do this.
Look on the page for your keyword and you’ll find a whole section of questions under the title, ‘People also ask’
These will give you a good idea of what people want to know about the topic. All you have to do is pick and choose what’s relevant and include them in your post. In fact use the questions as subtitles if possible.
Research shows that people often read the first and last paragraph plus the section headings to get an idea of what the post offers. Based on this they decide whether to read any more.
This is exactly why you want your post to have plenty of different sections, offering rich engaging information, preceded by ‘sexy’ and inviting headings.
The above strategies should help you achieve this outcome.
#5 Use your keyword in the last paragraph
I’ve not seen this listed as a specific Google ranking factor but I’ve read that using the keyword in the last paragraph is a good idea.
Regardless of whether Google regards this with any importance or not, doing so will still contribute to other factors Google measures, like relevancy, so I still try and do this with most of my posts.
What I said about the opening paragraph applies here too. Try and use the keyword in a way that is not overly obvious since it’s your reader who is the priority.
Try and avoid “In this post about “How to Stop Dogs Barking at Night”, I’ve..”
And then proceed to summarize what you’ve just said in detail. Does anybody really need to be told what they’ve just read?
If the first paragraph is what entices people to read further, the last paragraph must be the one that clearly tells the reader what you want them to do as a result of having read your post. This is what is known as your call to action.
Here’s an example which is more of a soft call to action but I’m sure you get the idea?
You now know how to stop dogs barking at night. All you have to do is choose the one method that’s going to work best for you and put it to the test. Unless you’re happy to continue having sleepless nights. Are you?
# 6 Use Your Keyword in H2 and H3 Tags
If you can, use your keyword in your section headings in H2 or H3 format. This may be another signal that helps Google to understand the structure of your post.
Once again this needs to read naturally and not just look as if you’ve thrown the keyword in for Google. I have to admit I don’t always find this an easy one to achieve.
Two ways I do this, neither of which I’m saying are wonderful, is to add the add the keyword in H2 and H3 tags before videos and my last paragraph, e.g. “How to Stop Dogs Barking at Night – Video” or “How to Stop Dogs Barking at Night – Wrap Up”
# 7 Use Your Keyword to Optimize Images
When Google bots crawl your post they’re not able to read your images unless you’ve added relevant text.
Adding your keyword to the image file name, alt text, title, description and caption sends an important relevancy signal to Google.
#8 Add your keyword to meta data
Earlier on I indicated that you might want to change your title tag, the one that appears in Google search results.
Using a WordPress plugin like All in One SEO or Yoast will allow you to do this. There will also be a space where you can write the description that appears under your title tag.
Although Google doesn’t use the the meta description tag as direct factor, adding the keyword to your description may impact whether people click on the link, and the click-through rate is a key ranking factor.
Here’s an example using the All in One SEO plugin:
This means linking to another relevant article using your keyword as anchor text.
Anchor text is less important than before and if it’s used too much it will be regarded as a spam. However in small doses this will still send a strong relevancy signal to Google.
How to use your keywords in blog posts – wrap up
Click Play …
You now know how to add keywords to blog posts, in nine different ways.
More importantly you also know that you can’t simply add keywords to a posts and expect that Google will be impressed.
Not only must you know how to use keywords correctly but as a priority you must impress readers with what you’ve created.
If you can do that so readers continue reading your post and take the action you want, then Google will reward your keyword efforts.
Did you learn anything new? Were you reminded to do something you’ve not been doing? Did I miss something you’d like to add?
Got Questions? Something to say? Leave a comment. Let’s chat
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