Keywords are your blog’s bread and butter. They’re the reason people are able to find your site via a search engine.
However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use keywords — most of the time, it’s not about getting the highest number of visitors to your blog, but rather targeting the right kind of visitors. After all, once the readers come to your site, the goal is for them to stay for a while.
Instead of blindly guessing which keywords might work best for your site, do your homework. Keyword research can help determine how you can draw readers to your site, keep your traffic growing, and make your blog a success by any standard.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Once you’ve decided what to blog about — whether it’s a home décor blog, food blog, or one that details the ins and out of your business — you need to determine your keywords.
Your initial tendency might be to select one word to focus on, such as picking the word “casino” for a blog that discusses the history of Las Vegas casinos and includes information about the rise of gambling, casino moguls such as Steve Wynn, and how technology has changed the gaming industry.
That would be the wrong strategy, though.
People who search just the word “casino” are more likely to be searching for information about local gaming establishments or the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie, Casino.
Photo Credit: cristianpcardenas
Actually, the term “keyword” isn’t accurate at all — what you really want are keyphrases, or two- to four-word phrases that specify what your site is about.
Therefore, the blog mentioned above might be more suited to using keyphrases such as “history of casinos,” “technology in casinos,” and “Las Vegas casino history.”
Note that search engines typically remove prepositions such as “of” and “in,” so those don’t really count as part of the keyphrase.
If you’re struggling to find the perfect keywords, free websites such as Google AdWords can help you come up with potential phrases to drive traffic to your blog.
However, some experts warn that using free tools means you might end up with the same words and phrases as a competitor, so you should also turn to a much more individualized form of research: your blog’s private data.
Nearly all blogging platforms offer web analytics and search query reports that inform you which keywords were searched that led a visitor to your blog. You might be surprised by some of the terms that brought a reader to your blog — sometimes they don’t have any relation to your content at all.
However, this is also where you really get to know what’s popular on your website. You might find that even though you anticipated the purpose of your blog to be the history of Las Vegas casinos, it’s really the shift in technology that’s bringing visitors to your site.
From there, you can incorporate additional technology-based keyphrases to boost your traffic, such as “electronic blackjack tables” or “Las Vegas anti-cheating technology.”
Perfecting Keyword Density
Keyword density refers to the number of times your keywords — or, more accurately, keyphrases — appear on each page of your blog. Your initial thought might be to jam the phrases in there as much as possible — more is better, right? Wrong! This would be a mistake.
Each time you write the keyphrase, it provides a diminishing return. This means that the first time you write it — in the title or intro of your blog post, most likely — gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
The second time you write it still provides impact, but slightly less so. Once you’ve stuffed it in there multiple times, the final few appearances don’t have much of an impact at all.
Rather than stuffing one keyphrase into your blog posts over and over again, choose a few different keyphrases to target. If you’ve heard the old phrase about putting all your eggs in one basket, the same concept applies here — spread your keyphrases out throughout multiple “baskets” to draw in multiple readers.
The optimum keyword density depends on each search engine — Yahoo! tends to prefer a 3% density, while Google seems to like those with a 1 to 2% keyword density.
This means that just 1 to 3% of the content contains the chosen keyphrases. This goes against the parroted wisdom of packing the keyphrases into your content — it just doesn’t make the impact that many people think it does.
However, SEO experts agree that density isn’t the No. 1 concern of a blog author. Instead, focus on creating quality keywords or keyphrases and inserting them in the appropriate locations — meta descriptions, titles, and tags — and then sparingly in the actual content of the post.
With the right keyphrases in the right places, watch your blog traffic soar.
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