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keyphrases

Now that you know what types of keywords to look for and where to find good keyphrases, it’s time to put them to work in your blog posts.

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.

Photo credit:  Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections

“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.

Photo credit: jurvetsonThat’s awesome if you actually have a demon in hand and are sharing tips on how to control such a creature.

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.

Moving on.

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.

Photo credit: the.barbHere’s an example:

<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.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss out, you should probably subscribe right now. It’s the one thing that both republicans and democrats agree is the right thing to do.

Questions? That’s what the comments are for.

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Last Saturday, we started talking about SEO. SEO for blogs, run by bloggers who don’t have the time to make learning about SEO a full-time job. Did you see the post?

SEO Secrets Lesson 2If not, go read it right now. You’ll need that background for today’s post.

Are you back? Good. Okay, let’s get on to today’s lesson:

Lesson #2: How the heck do I find good keyphrases?

The short answer? Do a little brainstorming. There’s a longer answer, but we’ll start there.

Open up a fresh word doc, get out a pen and paper, grab a crayon and your kid’s sketchpad – whatever.

Now. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. If you were looking for whatever you’re about to post about, how would you search? What would you type in?

And remember, there’s no point in trying to think like a robot. The web crawlers (i.e. Google) spend all their time trying to get better at thinking like people. So, since you are a person, you have a giant advantage.

Keep going for as long as you can. Write really specific terms. More general questions. Think about what you’d search for if your first search didn’t work. Or how you’d filter your results if what came back was too general.

Hopefully, by the time you’re out of ideas, you’ll have a nice long list.

Got it? Good. Now it’s time to ask a robot.

Meet the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Your new best friend.

Don’t be nervous. It’s easy to use. Just click on over to the Keyword Tool (that link will open it up in a new window). And breathe.

Still with me? Good.

Alright, now you know that list you brainstormed? You’re going to enter it into the box labeled “Word or Phrase,” one term to a line. When you’re done, it should look like this:

A list of keyphrases in the keyword tool search box
The results page that comes back might look a little scary. But don’t worry. I’m going to help you translate it. Here’s the big picture.
Adwords search reults
So. Your keyphrase is highlighted in blue. In the next column, you’ll see three different words: low, medium and high. That refers to the number of sites that would be competing with you to rank for that term. Low competition is good. Medium competition is okay. High competition is bad news bears.

The competition column in Adwords results

The other two columns are global and local monthly search results.
Local and Global search results in Adwords

Global is, of course, the whole planet. Local, for our purposes, is the United States.

Now, ideally what you want is a term with lots of search traffic and very little competition.

Obviously, we don’t have that in the example I’m showing you. The post I was searching for was quite specific. It was about making a three-dimensional owl cake using Pyrex bowls. I wrote it because I couldn’t find anything online to tell me how to do what I wanted to do.

Therefore, I chose 3D owl cake as my keyphrase. It’s super specific, without a ton of traffic, but it seemed to do the best job of getting the idea across (at the time).

So. I named my post How To Make a Kick Ass 3D Owl Cake. And I get all of the search traffic for that term:
Google results for 3D owl cake

Not only do I have the number one spot for this very specific term, my daughter is in one of the pictures. And it’s been that way for a year and a half now.

That’s how you make the Keyword Tool work for you.

Well, at least, that’s how you find the right keywords. Next week, I’ll show you how to use ‘em to get the results you want. If you didn’t go ahead and subscribe last week, you should probably do that now. You wouldn’t want to miss it, after all.

Questions? That’s what the comments are for. Fire away!

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Saturday SEO Secrets: SEO for Blogs

August 11, 2012
SEO for blogs

Tweet Because I write websites for a living, I tend to take SEO for granted. Incorporating it into my content (at least in my working life) is second nature to me. But last weekend, I talked to lots of people who said they didn’t have any idea how to do SEO for blogs. Some thought […]

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