Want to blog for a living ?

Do you have what it takes? Get my FREE 7 essential requirements checklist to find out

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?

YAWN! 😫

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.

Do not use the same keyword for all your images which could come across as keyword stuffing.  Rather use a variety of related search terms and synonyms.

 

#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:

#9 Use your keyword as a backlink anchor  

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

RELATED POSTS

28 Comments

  1. Seun Afotanju

    Thanks for this informative post.  I understand that search engines like Google place more weight on linked text than unlinked text when ranking search engine results. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include your keywords in or next to the links within your blog posts when it’s relevant to do so. This way you get maximize your traffic.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Seun

      Thanks for stopping by and adding that ueful point. 

      Adding your keywords as anchor text or placing them next to links in your blog posts is meant to help with ranking. This is so. 

      One must just careful not to over do this as otherwise search engines may regard this as spam. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  2. Nuttanee

    Thank you for this informative post. I still find that that it is hard for me to find the right Long Tail Keyword, Any suggestions? I do not feel confident when using long tail keywords because people might not look for the long keyword that I wrote about, if that makes sense? I will write all these tips and make sure to have all of them in my new post, Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      I think as long as there are enough people searching for the long tail keyword you use, so 100 or more searches per month then you can be sure that enough people are typing that keyword into Google because they want information. 

      By the sounds of it you don’t feel confident about whether you are giving them the content they expect? This is why it is best to choose long tail keywords with 4 or more words as those keywords will be more specific about what people want to know so you will have a clearer idea of what to write. 

      I also think long tail keywords that are questions are also easier to write about. A good tool where you can get some good question ideas is AnswerThePublic Choose some of the questions and qualify them to see if they are suitable long tail keywords. My post, How to Research for Long Tail Keywords That get Your Posts Found will show  you how to do this.

      Hopefully that helps you a bit more. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  3. Tim Bennett

    Hello Mark,

    You have written an excellent post here.

    The 9 strategies you discuss are excellent and if you use these you will never have the penalties that some people fear as they are solid SEO basics.

    Google’s business model is based around keywords so it is essential that we stay within the goal posts.

    However, you comment about writing for the reader is absolutely awesome!

    Writing for Google is obviously important, but one of the search engines direction is to give searchers the best content and the most relevant content. If they don’t people will stop using the search engines.

    So the reader has to want to see your content.

    Over the last few years, the search engines have been shifting towards content.

    The old keyword stuffing days are long gone – and thank god for that!

    Excellent post and well put together.

    Tim

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Tim

      Awesome to have you visit here again and thanks as always for contributing so constructively to the conversation at hand.

      I think sometimes, beginner bloggers can become so focused on keywords hat they forget that it’s real people who are reading posts not just search engines. 

      Google has become more and more user focused over the years and I think that’s an excellent improvement. I know how I feel when I type in a search term and don’t get what I expect. 

      I always keep this in mind when I’m writing for others, so I can try my best to match my content with what they expect when using a specific keyword. 

      I appreciate your kind words and feedback and look forward to seeing you around here some more.

      Tim

      Reply
  4. Clement

    Thank you so much for this great post of yours,  it  is really helpful and highly informative. You must have put in a lot of energy into writing this and I really appreciate that. I never knew keyword should be used in the body of the contents also, although I am a newbie blogger learning new things everyday. Thanks for providing great insights into this. 

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Clement 

      You are most welcome and thanks for the great feedback too. 

      There’s a lot to learn when you get started with blogging which takes time and practice, but I’m always pleased if I can help a new blogger learn something they didn’t know before. 

      We all started out as beginners and sometimes we forget that it’s a simple tip that can make all the difference to someone who does not know whatever that tip is about. 

      I look forward to seeing you around here again soon.

      Mark

      Reply
  5. Gom

    With regard to your question, “Did you learn anything new?”, well, I learned a lot! I learned so many thing from this article of yours that it made me bookmark this with my computer’s keyboard (Ctrl + D)!

    Yes, I have bookmarked not only this specific blog post of yours, but your whole site as well. These are the tips and tutorials that I’ve been looking for so long as you have touched the “nuts and bolts” of blogging. 

    I am also a member of Wealthy Affiliate, and as we know it, plenty of tutorials in WA about running an online business and also blogging. But your kind of explaining every detail? Wow, I really like it.

    I’m tuning in for more tips from you. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      That’s awesome feedback and I really appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment to let me know. Thank you.

      My intention with this site is to encourage people thinking about blogging to take the leap, since it’s such a wonderful l way to make money online. Also where to find the best training, tools and support, which of course I believe is Wealthy Affiliate. And lastly, to help bloggers, especially beginner bloggers with tips that can help them become successful. 

      I plan to write more posts to help bloggers with whatever they need to know so don’t hesitate to let me know if there are topics you’d like covered in the future. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  6. Nathaniel

    Hello Mark, I think from you article I’ve pretty much gotten how to use keywords in blog posts now. 

    All of us with a shiny new website or blog in Wealthy Affiliate, are all looking for ways to bring people to our websites and ways to make people hang there for a while, so I think lots of people will appreciate this. Thank you

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Nathaniel

      Awesome to hear this post was useful. 

      Choosing the right keyword for starters and then knowing how to use it in your blog posts is important but only if you can write engaging content as well. 

      There’s a lot of things that go into writing content that keeps people happy but the more you do it in the longer you keep at it, the easier it will become.

      I’m going to write a couple more blog posts about how to engage readers more as I believe it’s a really important topic and one that we can all learn more about. 

      Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you all the best with your blogging journey. Hope to see you around here again soon.

      Mark

      Reply
  7. Gracen

    Hi Mark! This is interesting. The longer readers stick around to read one’s posts, the more Google takes notice of keyword and optimization efforts. This logic definitely makes sense, one then has to write interesting content that can be of help and interest to his readers in order for them to stick around long enough to read the post. 

    Thanks Mark for schooling me on how to use keywords to satisfy both my readers and Google. The points are quite helpful and intriguing.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 

      According to SEMRUSH, who did a study to see which ranking factors were most important to Google, the 4 top were the direct number of visits to a site, time on the site, number of pages visited and bounce rate. All of these point to the importance Google places on keeping the reader happy once they get to your post. 

      In fact the first keyword factor only came in at no 12 which shows that although keywords are still important, Google prioritizes a whole lot of other factors over keywords. 

      Mark

      Reply
  8. Nicole

    I have to say I agree with everything you’ve written in your article. At first, I was only using 2-3 keywords and I wasn’t using throughout my paragraphs and now I’m using 4-5 words and I am using them throughout my paragraphs now. I never heard of using your keyword in your last paragraph but I think I might try it. Thanks for the informative article.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Nicole

      Great to have you visit and leave a comment. 

      Learning to be a better blogger takes time and experience and we all learn as we go. It sounds as if it’s been no different for you too. 

      As I said in my post, I’ve not been able to find a specific Google ranking factor that mentions they track whether a keyword is used in the last paragraph. I think it probably has to do with satisfying some of the other factors like the prominence and relevancy of your keyword in the context of your writing. 

      Great to hear you going to give it a try. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what all smart bloggers do, experiment and keep what works and throw out what doesn’t.

      Mark

      Reply
  9. Festus

    This is helpful! Thanks a lot Mark, I love writing, and I started blogging recently. So, I’m quite glad that I came across this post today.

    Even as I write based on target keywords, it’s still important that the content is considered valuable by the reader.

    Thank you for the  different ways to incorporate keywords into a post successfully.Thanks once again, I hope to come around some other times in the future.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Awesome to hear you love writing and that you’re enjoying blogging. I think it’s one of the best ways to make money online because you can choose to create a business around your interests and passions.

      Blogging is like most of the things, it requires skill practice and time. Understanding and using keywords is an important skill set for any blogger to master and this includes knowing how to integrate them in a well-written post that readers love.

      Thank you very much for your feedback and I hope to see you around here sometime again soon.

      Mark

      Reply
  10. Shui Hyen

    Hey Mark,

    I have learned so much in this article and will follow the 9 steps in creating my next post. All this while, I am having a challenge in ranking my posts with keywords and your post will be my lifesaver. 

    By the way, what is the best keyword density to enable a post rank highly in SERPs?

    Thank you for taking your precious time to write this very helpful article and l have bookmarked it for my reference.

    Much success!

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hello Shui

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m pleased to hear that this article has been helpful.

      Keyword density is not something I focus on or can even comment on authoritatively. I use a keyword a random number of times in posts when I write them, which I do with the keyword in mind but I focus in writing as naturally as I can. 

      When I’m finished with the writing I read the post out loud, and if it feels to me as if the keyword phrase is coming up too often, I either remove a one or more incidences completely or find an alternative related keyword phrase to use instead. I suggest you use the same tactic and  and monitor your ranking in the search results. 

      Of course making sure that you are using a keyword that is not too competitive with which to start is also critical. 😉

      Mark 

      Reply
  11. Jay

    Sometimes making use of keywords in a post can be so complicated and not a lot of people really understand it. They try to put their keywords into a post and do it the wrong way. Sometimes knowing how many keywords to put into a post can be difficult. I have read so many posts about the ratio of keyword density to actual content and it seems everyone has their own philosophy on how to actually do this.

    Trying to please Google and your readers at the same time is no easy task. It requires mastering to be able to do it right.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Jay 

      Yes, keeping Google and your readers happy at the same time can be a bit of a challenge. As you say, you can read 10 different posts about this topic and get 10 different opinions.

      At the end of the day, you must experiment with your own posts to see what works for you. One thing is for sure, Google no longer just looks to see whether you have keywords in your blog posts. 

      They are more interested in how readers respond to your posts and based on that decide whether the content is a good match for the keywords.

      Adding your keywords a few times and writing the best post you can is in my opinion, still the best way to go.

      Mark

      Reply
  12. Jblondeau

    Your article is very informative and easy to read. Thank you for the excellent tools you’re providing in it, to how to research which keywords are best to use.Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the number of keywords I could use, I remember the first article I wrote, was stuffed with keywords, obviously, with better practice, I have learned how to use them, and I know today that keyword research is the practice of finding the term that people enter into search engines.Jacqueline

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Jacqueline

      Great to have you visit and leave a comment. Thank you so much for your feedback. I was hoping the article would be easy to read and understand. 😉

      Choosing the right keywords and knowing how to use them in your blog posts are critical skills for bloggers to learn. Using too many keywords in a blog post is a mistake many bloggers have made.

      I was pleased to read that you have learned that this is not the best practice and I’m sure that you now use keywords far more effectively in your writing. 

      Mark

      Reply
  13. abioye olalekan

    This is a lovely and awesome information;  I must commend the incredible post.Your blog has always been an eye opener for me which I am seriously happy about and this particular post is not an exception.You have given useful tips on how to start blogging which is very helpful.I have set my goal already and also gathered some tips from your blog on keywords. Thanks for sharing.I appreciate it.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Thank you for your comment and feedback. It’s always nice to hear that the information provided is helpful. Hopefully you will be able to put some of it into practice and tested for yourself. 

      Looking forward to seeing you around here again soon.

      Mark

      Reply
  14. Randi

    I found your article to be very informative. You provided excellent knowledge about using proper keywords and you know a lot about rankings and SEO usage. I really enjoyed reading this and thought you did a great job explaining how people can avoid stuffing keywords and provide a better way of writing their content. All of which is important in order to receive a higher ranking with Google. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Randi

      Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a comment. It’s much appreciated.

      Knowing how to work with keywords is an important skill for a blogger to practice and get good at. Hopefully what I’ve passed on will be useful to you on your blogging journey too. 

      mark 

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Mark Baker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hey... I'm Mark! If you want to know how to blog for a living, you're in the right place. One of the ways I make money blogging, is as an affiliate. Meaning, if you buy something via a link on this site I could earn a commission, at no extra cost to you. It's how you can make money too. Ready?  Let's do this!

FREE CHECKLIST download

Find out whether you've got what it takes to be a money earning blogger. 

READ MORE ABOUT

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE ACCESS

Join my email community and get free access to my library of resources for professional bloggers 


Important This site makes use of cookies which may contain tracking information about visitors. By continuing to browse this site you agree to our use of cookies.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This