So you have done your research and have a few target keywords in mind…now what?
Knowing where to put keywords for SEO matters! It isn’t just cramming your keyword in your blog as many times as possible; Google is onto that and gives those blogs a big thumbs down. But, there are a few important places to optimize your blog post to help it perform as well as possible.
Is that a new face I see? A warm welcome – I’m Holly Larson, registered dietitian and nutrition copywriter. I ghostwrite blogs, emails and web copy for my fellow RD entrepreneurs. I am also a writing mentor to the amazing members of The RD Blog Club. I love what I do; elevating the voices of my fellow RDs helps to ensure that the general public gets access to credible info pseudo-science BS.
There are several places to be using your targeted keyword in each blog post. This blog post teaches exactly where to use your keyword and how to not go overboard.
Keyword strategy: an introduction
Wait a minute…what is a keyword, exactly?
Keywords are exactly what people type into Google to find answers to their questions.
Keywords can be a single word, such as “calcium” or a string of words, such as “best sources of calcium.” Multiple-word keywords are also called long-tail keywords.
Keyword research helps to guide which topics are strategic to cover for your audience. You want a keyword that has high enough search volume per month that it worth writing about, but low enough difficulty that there is a decent chance you can end up on page one of the Google search results for that keyword.
The goal is always to be on page one for the keyword that you’re targeting. There are ten answers that Google offers on page one and you want to be one of those top ten suggestions to click on. Most people don’t scroll past page one when searching online for information.
For more info on how to do keyword research, check out this post: How Do You Know Which Keywords Are Best to Target?
This blog post assumes that you have your keyword. Now let’s chat about how to use it best.
The more the better?
Actually no. It is easy to assume that the more you use a keyword, the better your opportunity to rank well in Google, but that isn’t actually the case.
Where you use your keyword is one aspect of the secret Google algorithm, but only that, a piece.
There is no substitute for having high quality, well-researched and well-written content. Keyword strategy is about taking that content up a level to help it to perform even better.
1. Your title
The format for this, when writing in a Google document is H1.
The most important place to use your keyword is in your blog title.
And if your keyword is more than one word, the current recommendations are to use it, exactly as is, in the title. For this blog post, my target keyword is “keyword strategy.” And as you can see, my blog title is “Keyword strategy: 8 places to use your keyword.”
Tip: use the H1 format for only one sentence – your title – in your blog post.
2. The first 1-2 sentences of your blog post
Next, I recommend using your keyword in the first two sentences of your blog post. This further guides Google as to what this blog post is about.
3. Any subheadings
A well-formatted blog post has a title, subheadings, and paragraphs that aren’t too long (no more than 2-3 sentences per paragraph, please). Subheadings allow skimmers to enjoy and digest your content more easily.
Subheadings should be in the H2 formatting. And if it feels natural to put your keyword in any subheadings, go for it! But don’t force it. Remember that while we’re focusing here on the strategy for the Google algorithm, the most important readers are real-live humans: your ideal client.
4. In your content
Now that you have your title and outline, it is time to write the rest of your blog. As often as it feels natural to include your keyword in your text, that is a good keyword strategy to include it. But, don’t force it.
Adding the keyword just for the sake of adding it is called “keyword stuffing” and is a big no-no. Google is very smart and will ding your authority if it thinks you’re trying to game the system.
So the blog is written and you’re getting ready to publish. Before you do that, let’s chat about the URL.
5. Your slug
Your URL and permalink are all the same thing: the web address that goes to your blog post.
The slug is the little snippet at the end of the URL. The slug for this blog post is keyword-strategy.
Most of the time, your website’s default settings will choose your blog title as the web address to go to your blog post.
The best practice for keyword strategy is to edit slug – before you hit publish – to be only the keyword. Use only lowercase letters and hyphens between words if your keyword is more than one word.
Note: don’t change URLs on blog posts once published. If you haven’t been doing this before, don’t panic. You know now how to be even more strategic.
6. Meta description
When you’re on Google looking up something very interesting, there is a little snippet of text under each article title. That is called the meta description.
Unless you add in a suggestion for a meta description, Google will pick something. Perhaps your first sentence or two from your blog post.
But, as you’re setting up blog posts to publish, you can suggest the meta description that you’d like. Keyword strategy is to use your target keyword in your meta description and make that sentence or two enticing for your readers.
There isn’t a guarantee that Google will use your suggestion, but it probably will.
Another option to use your keyword is in your photo’s alt-text. Alt-text is what you can add to your website’s back end as you’re getting your blog ready to publish.
The purpose of alt-text is to allow those who are blind or visually impaired to be able to understand what is on the website, even though they cannot see the image.
Keyword strategy techniques do not take priority over accessibility. But, if it makes sense to add your keyword within the photo description, that is another option to plug it in.
8. Linking to the blog post
One habit that makes your website more authoritative is having your posts woven together, with links. This helps to keep your readers on your website for longer.
As you write posts, think about what other information your reader might be interested in, and link to those posts in the new blog.
And, as you publish your new content, think about previous posts that might be relevant. As you link to this new post in your previous blogs, try to use the keyword.
After I published this blog, I went to a previous post and added a new sentence, referencing this new blog post. And since the target keyword for this current post is keyword strategy, I used that long-tail keyword in the sentence and linked it back here.
Keyword strategies to skip
Now that you know eight places to use keywords to boost your website’s authority, now I’ll mention one to skip: keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing used to be a strategy to game the system. Shady developers would post content with the keyword used an exorbitant amount of times so that the post would show up at the top of Google search results.
But, Google is no dummy. And they continue to adjust their algorithm to prevent being able to take advantage. Keyword stuffing is called a black hat strategy: don’t do it.
Keyword Strategy: key takeaways
Keyword strategy is something that can feel overwhelming at first. But like any new skill, it is 100% learnable, with practice. Understanding where to put keywords for SEO is a good strategy for you to get the most out of your blogging efforts. It is one piece of the puzzle, but it is not a substitute for good content.
If you’d like to learn how to boost your website traffic, let’s chat! I offer free phone consults where you get to tell me all about your business and your big juicy goals that you’re working towards. Can’t wait to meet with you!
Note: This post was originally published in March, 2021. It was updated in January, 2024.