ATYPICAL

Houston, We Have a Keyword Problem

By Sarah Malcolm
Early on, when search engine spiders were less sophisticated, writers gamed the system. Article after article hit the web with stuffed with precise long-tail keywords great for SEO, but painful to read. Some brands pushed back by not caring about keyword utilization at all. The problem? Over-optimizing for keywords is as damaging as not considering them at all. Let’s solve some keyword problems and find the middle ground.

Early on, when search engine spiders were less sophisticated, writers gamed the system. Article after article hit the web with stuffed with precise long-tail keywords great for SEO, but painful to read. Some brands pushed back by not caring about keyword utilization at all. The problem? Over-optimizing for keywords is as damaging as not considering them at all. Let’s solve some keyword problems and find the middle ground.  

#1. Picking your keywords

Do write essential content with keywords in mind. This includes home and landing pages, plus some cornerstone blogs. Find the right keywords by doing research. Google’s Keyword Tools will provide information about your target keywords plus some alternates. Alternative keyword tools are available, from free to paid, and they’ll give you different data points about the keywords.

Another option is to do a search on Google. Note the suggested keywords it gives you as you type in the search box. Those could be potential keywords.

Consider your competition when selecting keywords. For example, type “commercial real estate” into a search engine and see the top page results. Can your business compete with those results? Maybe not, but it could place well for something like “Chicago office space leasing agent.”

#2. Using keywords inside content

Search engines are sophisticated enough to consider variations on a theme. This means you don’t need to stuff paragraphs with unnatural-sounding long tail keywords. Synonyms and rephrasing are acceptable and sometimes help you out.

Do include your target keyword in page titles and headlines. Try using it in your written content, but always naturally. For a page around 500 words, like a traditional blog, add the target once in the beginning, middle, and end. Use the keywords or alternates in your subheading(s) for an additional boost.

#3. Optimization techniques

Adding keywords to your page and meta descriptions will help the page rank higher. However, don’t repeat the title over. Use a variation of the target keywords and make sure it accurately reflects page content.

Include in-links to your related content that are keyword-rich. This helps spiders understand what the other pages are about.

The final (key) word

A reader should never be able to tell if a piece of content was written for a keyword boost or as genuine content. And trust us--people can tell when content is worthless. Web pages with high bounce rates are sure signs of keyword and content problems.

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