A significant part of a highly effective SEO campaign is the use of relevant keywords. When you’re laying the framework for an online marketing effort that will drive up traffic and increase your conversions, two important considerations are:
- Keyword Discovery: determining which search terms and phrases will give your rankings a big boost and help the users who will become loyal customers to find your site. You can generate lists of appropriate words and phrases using one or more of the great keyword research tools available online.
- Content Strategy For The Web: identifying the topics, tone of voice, and method(s) of presentation that will engage your target audience, encourage sharing, and promote conversions.
Then there’s the matter of making these two goals work together—that is, incorporating keywords from your list into the content you’re writing without sounding awkward or being completely obvious about what you’re doing. We’ve all come across blogs and other written content that don’t even attempt to disguise the fact that they’re full of high-traffic keywords. It’s especially obvious when the writer hasn’t taken the time to think of an interesting topic and relevant keywords that coordinate with each other, because he’ll then have to include statements that are out of left field in order to mention each important word or phrase. There’s very little of value to you as the reader, which means you’re probably going to snicker, roll your eyes, and click away. At most, you’ll share the content with one or two people who are likely to laugh along with you at this uninspired and frankly goofy writing. Material like this doesn’t yield very much attention for the company posting it—and what little attention it does generate is not the desirable kind. So what’s a better way to make your SEO keywords and content work together?
Strategy: Let the Keywords Inform Your Topic
A great approach is to take a good look at the list of words and phrases you’d like to work into your content, determine a subset of them that fit together for one self-contained written “piece” (such as an individual blog post or single internal product page on your site), and choose a topic based on a theme or idea these keywords have in common. For example, if you’re a beauty, cosmetics, and home spa retailer running a weekly blog for your customers, you might assemble the following list of related keywords:
- scented shower gel
- bath and body gift set
- home spa set
Now it’s time to choose a topic that allows you to work these keywords in without announcing to the world that you’re optimizing your content for search engine performance. Since you’re blogging on a daily or weekly basis, you need to come up with original, timely subjects all the time. Maybe you find it easiest to blog about the current weather and upcoming holidays, since those things hold much influence over your regular customers’ purchasing habits. So you can reasonably pair the fact that we just marked the first day of fall with the idea that people might be shopping for a different variety of personal care products. You might title your newest post “Celebrate Fall with These Cozy Traditions.” One of your suggestions could be for the reader to stay in on a rainy Saturday and do some pampering with a luxe home spa set. Another could be to indulge in treats that smell and taste like autumn, including a pumpkin spice candle, apple cider, and vanilla scented shower gel. This material gives readers some fun ideas and things to look forward to, and they might be inspired to share it with fellow fall lovers on Facebook or Twitter. Now, imagine trying to work these search terms into a piece about something totally unrelated—let’s say a post on the upcoming World Series. We are cringing just thinking about the logical leaps you’d have to make it work. (“If you’re feeling bad about how badly the Mets did this year, maybe this bath and body gift set will cheer you up.” Forget it!)
When Keyword Insertion Is Not So Simple
Now, we know that it’s not always so straightforward. For example, what if you’ve been smeared by a jealous competitor and are trying to do damage control by pairing positive content about your company with keywords your rival has used to attempt to damage your great reputation? Let’s say your company name is Bath and Body Beautiful, and you’re trying to create some new content using the phrase “Bath and Body Beautiful bad reviews.” How can you possibly slip that one in under the radar?
In cases like this, you have to get a little more creative—and think outside the (search term) box. You might think about:
- Breaking up the phrase with a short word: “Bath and Body Beautiful makes bad reviews of your hotel a thing of the past. Travelers love our complementary trial-sized hair and skin care sets in 4-star resorts.”
- Breaking up the phrase with punctuation (use this method sparingly): “After you’ve shopped at Bath and Body Beautiful, bad reviews of other stores will make you want to tell everyone you know to come see us!”
You’ll notice that neither of these examples says anything about bad reviews of your company. And why should they? If you have less-than-optimal search terms to incorporate, it’s absolutely fine (and savvy) to avoid addressing false rumors about your business.
Summing Things Up
This should give you a better idea of how to work keywords into your written content in a more organic fashion. You can continue to deliver material your readers find engaging, helpful, humorous, or relatable—whatever it is that you’re going for—while incorporating search terms that will help your site improve its rank.
If you have any questions about how your content reads, it never hurts to get a second pair of eyes to look things over for you. Ask one or more of your team members to take a look at what you’ve put together and make note of anything that doesn’t feel like it flows appropriately with the rest of the post. If the keywords don’t stand out and make your writing feel awkward, you’ve done your job well!