Blog SEO Basics: On-Page SEO and What To Do With Keywords in Your Content
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Getting traffic to your blog requires that you optimize it for search. Our previous posts in the Blog SEO Basics series explained:
With those resources, you should have a good idea of how to get a list of keywords that you want to target, and why that's important.
What Do I Do With My Keywords?
Now you have your list of keywords. But what do you do with it?
This post will explain how to use your keywords so that your content ranks well in search.
Note, this post will focus on on-page SEO (how to use your keywords in your content and on your page). It will not get into technical SEO or off-page SEO. We'll save those for another post.
Put Your Keywords in the Title and One Header
The title of your post is one of the most important places to put your keywords. Not only does the title help search engines know what your post will be about, but it also tells readers what your post will be about.
Your keywords should go in the title.
Some also say that your keyword should come at the beginning of the title; starting your title with the keyword may be a little better than if the keyword comes towards the end.
Headers also matter. They help tell Google what your page is about and they signal relevancy. Your keyword should go in at least one header. But don't over-do it; you can get penalized for stuffing keywords in header tags.
In the Content
This may also seem obvious: your keywords should go in the actual article. But there are some things to know about how you should put them in.
The first thing to know is that you don't need to over-use them.
It used to be the case that many search algorithms mostly just looked for the number of keywords, so sites would put the keywords everywhere — to the point where the content wasn't readable.
Now they've changed the algorithm, so that tactic doesn't work anymore. In fact, you might even be penalized for keyword stuffing, which is when you over-use keywords in the content.
So how much should you use them? Experts don't necessarily agree, but it looks like between 2 and 5% of your text can be keywords. It would have to be quite high to be penalized for stuffing.
Rather than calculating keyword density, the best (and simplest option) is to just write naturally about your topic. Make your content clear and focused. Include your keywords, but don't try to put them in unnaturally.
In the First 100 Words
Several experts suggest that your keyword should also go at the beginning of your post. This helps tell the search engine what the post is about; it's a relevancy signal. Some people suggest putting it in the first paragraph. However, in our experience, this can sometimes conflict with good writing.
It's probably fine if your keyword comes somewhere in the first 100 words--even if it's not in the first paragraph.
In Internal Link Anchor Text
Internal links around your website help to show search engines what your page is about. They look at the text of the link and what it points to. They also look at the content around anchor text.
In the above case, "There is a lot to know about SEO" tells the search engine both that that article is about SEO, and that the page the link points to is also about SEO.
Building links between pages in your site, and using keywords in the link anchor text, is an important way to optimize your content for search.
In the Meta Description
The meta description is a short summary of your webpage that shows up on the search results page. It's usually about 160 characters. While it doesn't directly contribute to your SEO ranking, it's important because it's what the searcher sees. It's basically a sales pitch for them to come to your website.
Using your keyword in the meta-description can help your user understand what the page will be about. Therefore it's good practice to include your keywords in the meta-description.
Here's a good guide for how to write a good meta-description.
In the URL
The URL is the address of your page. Your URL provides information to Google and other search engines and signals what the page is about. Since these are highly visible and do not change, search engines value these as relevancy signals.
Include your keyword in the URL to improve SEO.
In Image File Names and Alt Text
You already know that you need images in your content. Images don't just make the content better for readers, but they also help tell the search engine what your article is about. Therefore, you can optimize the text around images with your keywords to contribute to your SEO.
The first way of doing that is with the file name. If you can, put your keyword in the name of the file. Make the file name descriptive of what the picture is of.
Alt text is also another great place for keywords. Alt text is is the text that is displayed if an image fails to load properly. This text is also read to users who are visually impaired. Including alt text is important not only to make your site more accessible, but it also helps tell Google what your picture is.
Your alt text should be used to describe the photo, but if it makes sense, this can also be a place you put in your keyword.
Next Steps: Optimize the Rest of Your On-Page SEO
You did it! Now you know how to use keywords in your content. The next step is other forms of on-page SEO. Stay tuned!
(For now, here's a great guide to on-page SEO).
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