At Grammar Chic, Inc. we spend many an hour writing website content for small business owners. We’ve written equipment summaries for manufacturing companies, ‘About Us’ pages for business consultancies, employee bios and corporate histories for all manner of companies—and that’s just in the past few days. Diverse though these businesses may be, there are a few common threads that connect them—one of which is an abiding interest in keywording.
“Should we be employing keywords?” some business owners ask us—and the answer, of course, is yes. “We should be using a dozen or more keywords on each page, cramming them into every paragraph,” others tell us—but not so fast: While keywords are important, so is strategy. Yes, you want to use some keywords in your content, but you want to do it in a way that’s ultimately appealing to human readers and to search engines.
Defining Some Terms
For those who are new to online content writing, a few definitions might help. Keywording is also called keyword optimization, and it simply refers to the practice of making sure that online content has enough instances of a keyword. Keywords, in turn, represent the words or phrases that are commonly used in search engines to find different kinds of content. If you’re a plumber in the Charlotte area, then the keywords on your radar are likely to be “Charlotte plumbers,” “Charlotte plumbing companies,” “North Carolina plumbers,” and perhaps even phrases like “Charlotte drain cleaning” or “Charlotte toilet installation.”
Basically, these are the terms that search engine users are going to use as they attempt to locate a local plumber, and you want to make sure you have those phrases on your page to let Google know that yes, your business qualifies.
Some business owners wonder how they can pinpoint the best keywords for their needs—because after all, you’re probably not going to be able to use 20 different keywords in one piece of content. The best approach is to be strategic, using a keyword analysis tool. The Google AdWords toolset is one that we recommend, because it’s free and because it works quite well.
It’s easy enough to use: Just type in a keyword and it’ll provide you with information on how popular that keyword is, while also suggesting some related terms you might consider. Generally speaking, you want to use keywords that get some traction—20,000 or more visitors each month—because those are the ones most likely to generate results. At the same time, newer or less established businesses will want to stay away from the uber-popular keywords. There are countless companies trying to rank for “North Carolina real estate,” for instance, so it may be more feasible to pick a less competitive phrase like “Charlotte foreclosures” or “Lake Norman NC homes.”
After keyword research has been completed, it’s time to write the website content. Here we return to our original question: How many times should you be using your keyword? How can you make sure it registers, without going overboard?
You’ll find plenty of articles telling you that you need to use a keyword 10 times for every 500 words, or that you need 2 percent keyword saturation, or even more like 6 percent. We propose a simpler way of thinking about keywords: You should focus less on hitting a certain number and more on using keywords as organically as possible. Remember that in addition to getting search engine attention, you also want to appeal to human readers; besides, Google focuses less on SEO tricks and formulae, and more on delivering quality content—and if you’ve got 45 keywords shoehorned into a 200-word article, you’re simply not providing anything of quality.
Instead of focusing on hitting a certain number or a certain percentage, then, we recommend focusing on some of the following, more general guidelines:
– Make your content multi-focused: Use some keywords so that you get the attention of search engines, but never forget that you’re writing for human beings, first and foremost.
– Consider the purpose of your page, from a reader’s standpoint; what information do you hope that he or she learns, and what action do you hope he or she takes? Allow these considerations to determine the keywords you employ.
– Don’t bother with keywords that are grammatically incorrect or cumbersome, because it’s impossible to use them and still make content readable for human beings.
– If you feel like your content is very obviously keyword-stuffed, then you’re probably overdoing it. It is more than possible to use the phrase “Charlotte plumbing services” naturally and organically in a piece of content, but you’re probably not going to use it four times in one paragraph.
Bottom line: Keywords are not unimportant, but neither are they the be-all and end-all of Web content writing. The best bet is to keep them in the back of your mind, but never to let them dictate the entire shape and focus of your content.
Got more questions about keyword use or Web content writing? Visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.