There are conflicting opinions as to what the optimal number of keywords is to include in webpage content. One thing all strategic online marketing professionals can agree on is that there is a fine line between having too many and too few keywords in your content. Gone are the days when you could simply include a high quantity of keywords in your content to get ranked higher.
These days, choosing how many and which keywords to use, and then using them effectively in your online content, is certainly more complicated than simply stuffing in as many as possible.
But, fear not! Now that websites with relevant content are prioritized over keyword stuffers, your business can expect to see not just better rankings in the SERPs, but better targeted traffic to your site in exchange for implementing some simple, strategic keyword placement in your online content.
Understanding How Keywords Work Today
Including keyword’s strategically when developing website content may seem complicated, but in truth, the changes search engines have been making over the past decade are to eliminate the trickery from keyword optimization in favor of a better user experience. This means using relevant keywords will not only drive traffic to your website, but should result in better quality traffic and a more targeted audience.
What are your ideal customers looking for? How do they search for it?
Answering these questions is the first step to developing a keyword marketing practice. The next step is to structure your content around the answer to these queries, utilizing keywords – not too many, and not too few.
Ideally, keywords will act as a part of your overall search engine optimization strategy to get you in front of the people who are looking for you. Rather than audience targeting, with keywords you’re trying to get found by a someone who is actively seeking what you are offering via search – an audience highly likely to convert!
The Danger of Too Many Keywords
If you take nothing else away from this post, remember that keyword stuffing is not only ineffective, it will actually hurt your ranking.
In bygone days, keyword stuffing was the name of the game. The more times a keyword or keyword phrase was used, the higher the webpage was ranked in the SERPs.
Over the last decade, search engines have refined algorithms in order to better match users with the quality content they are seeking. What this means in practice is that search engines have designed algorithms to push the pages with useful content AND keyword matches (plus numerous additional factors like location, validity of the source, etc.) to the top of the SERPs and bumping those who are simply over-saturating content with keywords to the bottom – or even off – the results listing.
Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, warned about SEO keyword stuffing back in 2012, saying:
“We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”
Nearly 6 years later, we are seeing the fruits of his team’s labors: Google and other main search engines clearly prioritize best-fit results and user experience above all else, and using too many keywords is sure to hurt your website ranking.
The Danger of Ditching the Keywords
Don’t stop reading yet!
Data suggests that strategically using keywords is still an incredibly effective way to improve rankings in the SERPs and get your website content seen by a greater number and more targeted selection of potential customers.
Keywords help you tell the algorithms when your content is in fact the best answer for the query.
Not sure where to find the balance? Start by focusing less on beating the system and instead focus more on developing information-rich content that strategically uses highly relevant keywords appropriately and naturally and in the right balance.
How Many Keywords: Finding The Balance
The bad news: there’s no perfect formula for the exact right number of keywords to use.
Marketers generally suggest that you initially focus on somewhere between 2 and 15 keywords total, utilizing 1 or 2 per page of content, and with a density of 2-5% within the content is a safe range.
A better keyword strategy, however, is to think writing quality content first with 1 to 4 keywords in mind, and then going back to optimize for the primary one or two keywords after creating the content.
Identify places within your content where adding a keyword can either replace a current word choice or can be added in a way that both fits in naturally and enhances the quality of the content. Keywords should never be added just for the sake of adding in the keyword one more time.
A general keyword quanity guideline is:
- Web Page Content: Focus on one or two broad and long tail keywords per web page and blog post and work them in only as frequently as is natural. Include keywords in photo captions, title tags and meta-descriptions.
- PPC Advertising:Using highly relevant keywords is the secret to a worthwhile pay per click campaign. Using keywords that have been proven to drive highly targeted traffic to your website is the most effective tactic.
- Social Media:Maintaining the same keywords across platforms, including on social media posts, helps search engines recognize your content as relevant.
How To Do Keywords Well: Research, Review, Revise and Repeat!
The primary step is to do your research and create a Keyword Plan. Begin by brainstorming a big list of all possible searches someone may use that would ideally lead to your business page. Put yourself in the mind of the person who would be searching for what your business offers, but may not know the name of your business. How would they best find you in an organic search?
Compare your brainstorm list with your competitors. See what is working for them and what isn’t, and decide which keywords you may want to try to drive to your pages instead. There are lots of keyword tools available to help you develop your final list, but you may want to compare a few before you decide which keywords to target.
It’s incredibly important when it comes to keyword metrics that you track what is working and what is maybe not performing as well as you’d hoped. Then, always adjust accordingly and deliver what the customer wants.
- If you can’t work in more of your keyword(s) to your content naturally, you shouldn’t add any more keywords, regardless of your keyword density.
- Use keywords strategically, not just frequently. Include keywords in metatags, titles and photo captions, as well as within the content itself.
- Above all, sharing quality, relevant content regularly is the best way to improve your ranking and get found.
- In addition to publishing good content with strategic use of relevant, targeted keywords, it’s important that your website is active on social media, optimized for mobile, and is up to date if you want to successfully reach more customers online through search.
Find Out if You are Missing the Boat with your Keywords
EmoryDay is a full service digital marketing agency committed to growing small businesses by helping you build marketing foundations to increase revenues, generate leads and create growth.
Get started today and learn how our team of digital marketing professionals can help your business develop a keyword strategy that will make a measurable difference for your business. We are excited to hear about your mission, and how we can help.