If a prospective customer went to Google to look for a business like yours, what words would they use? Those phrases are your keywords.

Your website must contain those important words. They tell a search engine, like Google, exactly what your website or an individual page on your site is about. That information is then stored in the search engine database so it can be presented to prospective customers when they are looking for a product or service.

Search engines rank the content of every website so they can deliver the most useful and relevant web pages. Your objective as you “optimize your website” is to present your information in a way that establishes you as the best resource for the searcher. One of the most common mistakes businesses make is thinking there is a single keyword or phrase that they must dominate, but that just isn’t how search works anymore.

Why? Because today people are more likely to use natural language as they type or dictate to Siri or Hey Google. Instead of typing a short phrase like “furnace repair” they are more likely to ask a question like one of the following:

  • Who can I call to repair my furnace?
  • Why is my furnace making a funny sound?
  • Why does my furnace smell?

When you start thinking about keywords the way a potential customer might actually think about you, the list of possible keywords starts to get pretty long. Also, in response to a keyword or phrase entered into a search box, search engine results might include text, links to web pages, images, and video.

So how do you optimize your content, so potential customers find you?

Think like a customer

Take time to think about your website from the perspective of your customer. Listen to your customers when they talk about your product or service. What words do they use when they describe your product? What questions do they routinely ask?

Think about slang and phrases customers use when describing your product.

Sometimes these phrases may not actually be correct, but if they are common, you need to incorporate them. For example, you could add a sentence like this to a page:

Many people use the term __________ when they look for a product like ours. While commonly used, it isn’t accurate. The correct term is ___________.

Do you see how the text connects the word the customer might use with the correct term? That is extremely helpful to human beings and search engines.

Mix up your keywords

Do not be afraid of creating too long a list. The variety helps you avoid repeating the same keyword over and over throughout a single page. Mixing up the content makes it more interesting for human beings to read. It will also help you rank well for multiple terms with a single page of great content.

Choosing synonyms and related terms help you avoid penalties for keyword stuffing, where search engines believe you are trying to game the system. You can tell when a page has been stuffed. The same term is repeated over and over making it feel like a robot wrote the content instead of a human being. No one wants to read that, not even another robot.

Ideally, the density for a single word should range between 0.5% to 2.0%. So if your blog post is 1000 words long your keyword should appear between 5 and 20 times. The keyword density for this post is actually around .9%, making the text fairly natural to read.

Use keywords everywhere

Start with your headline or page title. This should clearly define what the page is about and it should contain the keyword you hope to rank for. A great headline is between 4 – 9 words.  Why? Becuase anything longer will be truncated on search so people won’t see the full title.

Don’t stop with the headline. Include your keyword throughout your text and in the titles of your images, in subheads and your meta description so Google can clearly identify what your page is about.

Finally, remember that your competitors are targeting the same keywords, so one page of content just won’t be enough to move you to the top of the page. Your site needs to be filled with pages of relevant and related information, so start writing. Add blog posts and update content on your primary page on a regular basis.

Want to learn more about Keywords and SEO? Check out our Simple SEO Workbook

With more than 700,000,000 sites worldwide, how do you claw your way to the front of page one? There are many answers to this question and the rules shift as often as Google adjusts their algorithms.

There are however a few basic rules which will give you a starting point to “get in the SEO” game. Use our checklist to map out your plan to stay one step ahead of your competitors and on page one of Google results.

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