How to choose the best keywords for content writing
The right keywords can make a huge difference to your content’s performance, so what are you waiting for? Learn how to pick the best keywords for content writing now!
Why you need effective keywords for content writing
Keywords are what get you found online, so you really should give them the attention they deserve.
Search engine crawlers use keywords to determine what your piece is about. They then decide where you rank by comparing your piece to others that target similar keywords, judging it on relevance and popularity.
Basically, the better your keyword, the higher you rank. However, you need to have top-notch valuable content too, simply having the best keyword in the world alone won’t help you rank high on the SERPS.
Without the best keywords for content writing, your pieces won’t be found by search engine crawlers or potential customers, so can result in a loss of revenue – and we don’t want that!
Luckily, we’ve got some useful tips to help you out:
What makes a good keyword?
There are three core elements that help create the best keywords for content writing:
- Long-tail phrases
- Realistic search phrases
Let’s look at the first two elements using an example. Imagine you own a bike shop in Milton Keynes. It specialises in racing bikes and often hires bikes to tourists.
The keyword ‘bicycle’ or ‘bike’ isn’t going to cut it – it’s so generic that it’s going to be super-difficult to rank for. So, you need to add in a little more detail. This could include:
- The type of bike – ‘racing bike’
- Where you’re based – ‘racing bikes in Milton Keynes’
- The services you offer – ‘racing bikes for hire in Milton Keynes’.
As you can see, the name ‘keyword’ is a bit of a misnomer – ‘keyphrase’ might be a better description, as you can use more than one word. By using long-tail phrases you can be much more specific, thereby decreasing the competition for ranking places.
Region-specific keywords are also really important as they tell search engines where your business is, and therefore help local customers find you.
The third element, using realistic search phrases, is very important. You must use phrases that will be searched by potential customers, otherwise your page is just never going to pop up.
Think about what questions they could be asking, and how you’d go about finding your content online if you were the one looking.
It helps to know your target market really well, so consider creating audience personas to help with this.
This area is growing in importance as semantic search is developing. These new techniques seek to improve accuracy and produce more relevant results by understanding searcher intent and contextual meaning of search terms. That means you need to understand this too!
Voice search is also on the rise, so you should consider it in your keyword planning.
People are asking questions in their searches, not using disjointed keyword terms. For example, instead of ‘bike hire in Milton Keynes’ they’ll ask ‘where can I find a bike to hire in Milton Keynes’. So, your keyword needs to incorporate elements of these questions.
How to choose the right keyword
We’ve explained the why and what, so now it’s time for the how. Here’s how we suggest going about choosing your keywords for content writing:
General business know-how will only get you so far. Proper keyword research is the only thing that will give you the ability to make an informed decision on what phrases to use.
Begin by creating a list of topics related to your business – the ones you usually blog about are a great starting point.
For the bike shop example, it would consider topics like tyre pressure, local trails, races/events and celebrity riders.
From that list, brainstorm specific keywords you might want to use. Think of what you’d be asking to find information on those topics. Write down everything you can think of, you can always trim your list down if it gets too long.
Select what you consider the top keywords from your list, type them into Google and scroll to the bottom of the page. Here you’ll see the related search terms – they can all act as your target keywords too.
If you want a few more ideas, take a look at answerthepublic.com – they generate real-life search terms based around the keyword(s) you put in.
2. Plan and test
By now, you’ve probably got a pretty big list of keywords you could use. However, you need a little more information before you dive in and start trying to use them. Planning and testing is the best way to cut them down to the most effective.
Use software like WordTracker and Google Keyword Planner. These will help you narrow down your list based on quantitative data. It will tell you things like:
- The amount of search traffic for that keyword
- Competition for that keyword
- Click and cost performance forecasts (if you were to choose PPC methods)
This software will also give you some ideas for keywords you may not have thought of, so it’s really worth taking a look.
Test where you currently stand on Google. Type in your chosen keyword and see if you rank on the first page. If you don’t, you really need to get to work – 75% of searchers don’t look past page one!
3. Place keywords in effective positions
It’s not just about which keywords you choose, it’s about where you put them too. Here are the key places your keywords should be:
- Meta data (title, description, focus keyword and URL)
- Body copy
- Anchor text
Use tools like Yoast to determine your SEO score and whether your keyword has been distributed effectively.
When you’re placing keywords throughout your text, make sure they are relevant and that they gel with the rest of the text. If you don’t, you run the risk of keyword spamming and getting penalised by Google. If that happens, you won’t be ranking highly for quite some time!
Aim for natural copy with a few mentions of the keyword inside, but don’t go overboard. It’s best to let these keywords guide your content strategy and then they’ll fit in nicely.
You may want to consider a content audit and update your old content so you can be sure everything focuses on these new core keywords.
Common keyword mistakes
There might be a few fluff-ups along the road to keyword success, but we’ve tried to pre-empt them so you don’t have to worry. Here are the most common mistakes people make when it comes to keywords:
- They rely on paid ads/PPC – This is unwise when 70-80% of consumers ignore these ads anyway. Organic search is definitely preferable (and less expensive)!
- They don’t use analytics – Many take up the “set-it-and-forget-it” attitude, but measuring ROI and performance is key to making sure your strategy is working and you’re achieving your goals!
- They don’t think about the audience – Consider searcher intent – your keywords need to go some way to answering their questions (who, what, where and why).
- They choose the most popular keywords – Popularity = more competition = harder to rank for. Choose niche keywords or phrases that have lower search traffic volume, but are easier to rank highly on.
- They can’t spell – Spelling and grammar are really important for keywords, so it’s worth double checking!
That’s it – now you should be able to choose the most effective keywords for content writing possible, and start shooting up the search rankings. Good luck!