How to Use Keywords to Improve Your SEO

Cartoon of how SEO works
Cartoon of person searching keywords in google search results

You’ve probably heard the term ‘keywords’ a lot in the process of building your website, and perhaps you’re wondering what exactly that means and why they’re so important to your SEO.

Keywords are the words and phrases that you would expect people to type into search engines in order to find your website. Obviously if those words aren’t actually in your website, then you’re unlikely to to be found, so it’s important to weave these terms and phrases into your copywriting.

How to Know What Keywords to Use in Your Website

Before you can start, you need to know what keywords to use in your website. This is where keyword research tools come in handy. A keyword research tool can help you determine the popularity of certain words and phrases, as well as how much competition there is for those phrases.

The Moz Keyword Explorer is a fantastic keyword research tool. By signing up for free you can use their ‘Keyword Explorer’ 10 times a month. Anything over that and you’re going to have to pay for the service.

Other tools such as SEMRush, Ubersuggest, Wordstream Free Keyword Tool, and even Google’s autocomplete feature can all give you some great ideas for what keywords to include on your website.

Unfortunately the best keyword research tools usually cost money, but if you’re serious about getting your website noticed, subscribing may be a worthwhile investment. I personally use SEMRush and absolutely do not regret the cost of the monthly subscription in exchange for all the amazing features I get.

Alternatively you could pay someone to write your SEO content for you and get the benefit of keyword research and great copywriting for your website.

Where to Put Keywords on Your Website

Add Keywords to Your Headings

Cartoon of keywords on a webpage

Headings are the first place you should start when adding keywords to your website. When search engines scan your content, they look at your headings in search of important terms and phrases.

By including more commonly used terms in your headings, you’re making Google’s job easier, and making it easier for your website to be found in search results.

If you don’t have access to a keyword research tool, that’s fine. There are many other ways to come up with ideas. Think of commonly asked questions that your target market might have about your area of expertise. What words would you enter into Google to find your answer? Answer those questions and then try to include those relevant keywords in your headings and sub-headings.

Make Sure Your Keywords Are Subtly Woven Into Your Body Copy

Google also scans through the body of your website, so be sure to include your keywords, terms and phrases throughout your body copy. Be wary of keyword stuffing though as Google may read your page as spam and penalise your website.

To avoid this, try to keep your writing natural and easy to read, and avoid forcing your keywords in at every available moment. Google doesn’t like that, and it can be very jarring to your readers. You’re better off writing your copy in a way that feels natural, and then going back to add a sprinkling of keywords once you’re done.

Alternatively, after you’ve done your keyword research, write a list of the terms you would like to include in your copy. Once they’re listed, write your copy without thinking too hard on those terms. Just keep them sitting there, minding their own business at the bottom of your word document (or whatever program you choose to write with). You may find that your mind starts to subconsciously insert keywords into your post. For some people this is a great way to weave keywords naturally into their websites without becoming spammy.

There’s no exact number of times you should include a certain term on your page (it depends on how much content you’ve got on the page), but it’s good to aim for about 5.

Include Keywords in Metatags

Metatags are the part of your website that you don’t usually see, but you should definitely be paying attention to them when it comes to SEO.

There are many types of Metatags.

Optimise Title Tags:

Screenshot of a title tag

Title tags are the titles of your pages that show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) when you enter a search query into Google. They’re the bigger blue text at the top of each website listed. You should include important keywords or questions in your title tags so Google can understand what your website is about. Pay attention to how you’re putting your keywords into your title tags as they also help you to entice people to click on your website when it shows up in the SERPs.

Screenshot of meta description

Be Careful With Meta Descriptions:

This is the smaller text that shows up under your title tag. It allows you to provide a brief description of the contents of your page, so make it interesting, enticing and relevant. You’re better off having a different Meta Description for each page so that people know what it’s about.

Remember to write for the human first! Don’t just list keywords in your meta descriptions, or else no one is going to want to click through to your page.

Don’t Forget File Names and Alt Text:

Believe it or not, the names of the pictures that show up on your website are important too. Google can’t see your pictures like you or I can, but they can read the words describing the pictures. So it’s important to make them relevant to the image. When you save a picture, try to avoid generic file names like ‘Untitled 7’ or ‘3942rdj38439fnboring.JPEG’. Instead save them with file names that describe the contents.

You should also update the image’s ‘alt text’ on your website. The ‘alt text’ is what shows up in place of your picture should it fail to load. It also tells search engines what that image is about. Update the alt text with a clear description of what the image contains, but always be careful not to make it spammy.

Keywords are an important part of building a website, It’s up to you whether you choose to take the time to do it yourself or hire an expert to do it all for you. Without keywords, your website will have a hard time getting seen, no matter how good it is. So have a think about your website and what terms you wish to be ranking for.

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