But first, I want to issue a word of caution: Whatever you do, don’t go overboard.
Optimizing your content (which is a fancy way of saying using your keyphrases in the right places and in the right way) can dramatically increase your search traffic. But if you go hog wild and cram them in anywhere and everywhere you can find a space?
The Google Gods will send you straight to the bottom of the results page.
Plus, you’ll turn off anybody who actually tries to read it. Which kind of defeats the purpose of writing it in the first place, does it not?
So. Before we go any further, I want you to raise your right hand and repeat after me.
“I will use my newfound SEO powers for good, not evil. I will write for humans, not robots. And if, in my optimizing efforts, I find my content starts to sound like dog poo, I will stop what I’m doing and pick up my mess.”
Now, on with today’s lesson!
Step One: Put your keyphrases front and center
Your headline is the first place Google looks to determine the topic of your blog post.
If your headline says, “10 Ways to Tame a Clawed Demon,” Google will assume you’re writing about well, clawed demons and how to tame them.
But it’s not so good if you’re actually talking about how to stop your kitten from scratching everything in sight.
In other words, it’s absolutely essential to make your most important keyphrase the star of your headline.
So, if the keyphrase you’re optimizing for is “scratching cat,” a better title for that post would be “10 Ways to Stop a Scratching Cat.”
But what if you really, really want to go with the first headline option (which is totally what I would do)? Well, you could create a custom meta title. But that’s a whole different kettle of fish, so we’ll talk about that in another post.
Step Two: Use Keyphrases to Break Things Up
The headline tells Google (and your readers) generally what your post is about. But chances are, there are sub-topics within your main topic.
You’ll probably talk about different methods of disciplining your scratching cat, and ways to protect your furniture from your scratching cat, and maybe even exorcism methods for your demon cat.
Each time you switch topics, plop a subhead in. Using your keyphrases, of course.
What is a subhead, you ask?
It’s that bolded line of text I put in up there before I started talking about topics and sub-topics.
If you’re feeling brave, head into your html and make sure they’re coded with an h2 or h3 tag.
<h2>I hate my demon cat </h2>
That helps Google recognize the text as important. It reads h1 tags first, then h2, then h3…it goes all the way down to h6. When Google runs out of “h” tags, it will continue on to the rest of the post.
Step Three: Work Keyphrases into Your Blog Post
You can write the world’s most optimized heads and subheads, but if you don’t include your keyphrases in the actual content of your post, you’ll strike out.
That’s because Google wants to make sure you’re not trying to game the system. And it views the inclusion of keyphrases in content as proof that you’re actually talking about what you said you’re talking about in the headline.
However, I can’t give you a magic formula to tell you how many times to use your keyphrases. Basically, you should work them in wherever they fit, without interrupting the flow or rhythm of your post.
Write naturally…but with focus. If you can’t easily work your keyphrases into your blog post, you’re using the wrong words.
Good content-optimizing strategies include:
- Working your keyphrase(s) into the very beginning of your post—within the first line or two
- Using synonyms for your keyphrases. If your keyphrase is scratching cat, you could use “cat who scratches,” “stop your cat from scratching,” etc.
- Using bullets or numbered lists highlighting your keyphrases within the blog post
But remember, content is king. If your post starts to sound forced, or is no longer true to your style, you need to back off.
And that’s the least you need to know about using keyphrases in your blog posts.
But guess what? There’s still a whole lot more to cover. Next week, we’ll talk about incorporating keyphrases into your meta data and images.
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Questions? That’s what the comments are for.