• 4-minute read
  • 19th September 2018

Understanding Keywords for Website Content

Every business needs a website nowadays, so knowing how to write good content using SEO keywords is vital. But what exactly are keywords? And what does this mean in practice when writing for your website? In this post, we look at the basics of using keywords in online content.

What Is a Keyword?

At its most basic, a keyword is a term that someone enters into a search engine to find a website. For all of the content on your website, then, you should think about which keywords will make it easy to find. In other words, your website content should be built around keywords.

If you haven’t done so already, you should develop a list of keywords to use on your site. A good starting points for this is Google Analytics, which lets you see how people are currently finding your site. Looking at which keywords your competitors use on their websites is a good idea, too.

Google has all the data.
Google has all the data.
(Image: Google Design team)

Before you start writing, though, you also need to know the difference between short tail and long tail keywords.

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Short Tail Keywords

Short tail keywords (otherwise known as “head terms”) are single words or short phrases related to your core business activities. For instance, short tail keywords for our website would include terms like “proofreading” and “copy editing.” These are important because a lot of people search for them, but there is also a lot of competition for most short tail keywords.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are longer, specific phrases closely related to some aspect of your business. In our case, for instance, we might identify phrases such as “American English proofreading for college papers” or “professional formatting for business documents.” People search for these terms less often, but it is easier to rank higher in search results for long tail keywords.

5 Tips for Using Keywords in Online Content

Finally, we will offer five handy tips for how to work keywords into your writing. Give them a try next time you are working on some website copy!

  1. Quality beats quantity – In the past, you could trick search engines by packing a web page with keywords (this was known as “keyword stuffing”). However, modern search algorithms penalize websites that do this, so it should be avoided! Instead, focus on writing good quality content with your keywords scattered occasionally throughout.
  2. Use keywords strategically – Different types of keyword should be used on different parts of your website. Use short tail keywords on the most important pages (e.g., the home page or where you describe services). But you should also use a range of long tail keywords elsewhere on the site (e.g., a blog or news section). This will give you a large database of specific words and phrases that customers can use to find you.
  3. Readability above all – Never force a keyword into a sentence where it doesn’t fit. After all, if someone clicks on your site and gives up after reading the first awkward paragraph, keywords count for nothing. Make sure all content on your website is well written and error free first.
  4. Clever formatting – You can boost SEO results by formatting keywords so that they stand out (e.g., with bold or italic fonts). Using keywords in subheadings is especially important. You may also want to use bullet points to make pages easier to skim read.
  5. Use the meta description – While using keywords in online content is important, you should also use them in the meta description for each page of your site. This is the short summary that users see as a preview in search engines, so it is vital to get this passage right!

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