In terms of content, keywords are the essential ingredient in any web copy, from websites to blogs. Keywords help prove to search engines that your content is relevant to customers searching with you keywords. The insertion of keywords in your web content is not, unlike other aspects of copy writing, an art, but a carefully studied science.
You must target a small set of specific keywords – the optimum number being around 3-5. Why? Because your keywords must be repeated enough to ensure the page seems relevant. Therefore, to target for any more than 3-5 keywords would result in web content stuffed with repeating words – making it wholly unreadable and irritating. However, by selecting just a few, you can effectively target those keywords without compromising readability.
So you said I have to repeat my chosen keywords often enough to be relevant, but how often is that?
Well a general rule of thumb is around 4%, with keywords distributed throughout the content – though it helps to have more in the first and last paragraphs. However, the idea that SEO is based almost solely around keyword density is a myth created by SEO 'experts' offering a quick fix.
In reality keyword density started to lose importance in the early 1990's, long before most people even had the internet. Yes, your keywords should be prevalent in your copy, which is why we recommend around 4%, but there are many other factors that are far more important in getting your webpage optimised for search engines. The best advice is to remain mindful of your keywords while writing good, natural sounding, copy.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
So how do you optimise your content for search engines using your keywords?
At risk of stepping outside the boundaries of 'copywriter' advice and into the realm of 'SEO expert', here are a few key ways to improve your page's SEO:
- Page title – This should contain most of your keywords, and is the line of text that will initially show in search results.
- Page Description – This can usually be edited in the page settings of your web content platform. Make sure it is an accurate description of your page content, and ensure it contains all of your keywords.
- Heading tags – Don't get scared by the html language, ‘H1’ just means 'heading 1'. These can be set by writing <h1>Title with keyword here</h1> in your html editor. The content editor will then automatically format it into your default 'Heading 1' font.
- Linking – If at some point you link your keyword to another relevant page, search engines will see the link and rate your page as more relevant.
It is important that you do not use exactly the same keyword phrasing for each of these techniques, as a search engine may filter it as spam. Instead change the word order and/or the derivatives of your keyword used.
If you are going to try to drive more traffic to your site, it is likely that at some point you will run a Google AdWords (or similar) campaign. These pay-per-click campaigns can offer real value for money as they are only shown on keyword targeted searches, thus targeting only those with an interest.
The system works by automatically bidding against other adverts with the same keywords for an appearance on Google's search results. The higher your maximum bid, the greater chance of your advert being displayed. However, this follows that the more keywords you target the more you will end up paying – another good reason to target only 3-5. It also means that the more common, or specific to big-money companies, the more you will have to pay to outbid them.
It is a good idea to set up an AdWords campaign before your web page in order to see Google's estimate on the optimal bid amount for your chosen keywords. This way you can avoid any nasty surprises when you come to run an AdWords campaign later on.
Overall it is best to view keywords like sugar: You want them sprinkled evenly over your cornflakes, but too much and you'll end up with rotten teeth. Used in the right places keywords, as well as sugar, make all your efforts seem a little sweeter to Google (we hear they have a sweet tooth!), as well as your potential customers.