How to Target SEO Keywords: A Comprehensive Guide

If you don’t know it by now, you should: keywords are the most important element in your SEO recipe. Keywords are like yeast to bread. You can’t have bread without yeast. If you don’t have the right keywords, you don’t have a good SEO strategy.  

Keywords are the heart and soul of SEO. Keywords are the words and phrases people type into search engines like Google and Bing. Sometimes people type in words, like “recipe chicken casserole” and sometimes they use sentences like “how to make a chicken casserole.” 

In both scenarios, the keywords here are “chicken” and “casserole.” “Recipe” is another secondary keyword.

If you want people to find your webpage when they type something into a search engine, you need to use a lot of the keywords they may type into a search box on your webpage. You also need to use those keywords in the headline, in the image alt tags, and in bolded subheads, like the phrase after this sentence.

target seo keywords

How to Figure Out Keywords

The Google Keyword Planner is a tool that helps you improve your keyword search results

But you don’t have to use it. You can just think like your customers might. What words and phrases would you type into Google or Bing to get the goods and services you offer?

Ask your friends, family and even strangers what words they’d use.

Besides Google’s tools and your own imagination, there are other tools to find keywords. 

Übersuggest and WordStream have helpful keyword tools to find new search terms. 

Google Trends will also show you what words are trending, and you might incorporate those terms into your keywords. 

Then start creating content using those keywords in the title, headers, and in the body of an article or blog post.

When you do this enough, you’ll notice changes in where your page ranks in search engine results pages (SERP) when people enter those keywords into search engines. You won’t notice changes immediately. Changes take between three and six months. 

The art and science of how keywords lead to a company getting a higher position in SERPs has changed a lot over the years. Search engines constantly change their formulas to keep competitors in the dark about their secret sauce, and they also realize people are using engines in different ways.  But some rules are generally agreed upon by experts. Even Google has admitted and verified some of these rules in behind-the-scenes glimpses of their formulas.

woman works on laptop

Target SEO Keywords

You want to balance using keywords a normal amount, vs. using them too much. If you use the word “keyword keyword keyword” three times in one sentence, you’ve gone too far. This is an example of keyword stuffing. 

Some people even tried to trick search engines by stuffing what seemed to be white space on a page with keywords written in white, so they weren’t visible to the naked eye. But search engines could detect them, and Google quickly labeled this  “stuffing.” That means excessively placing keywords in the page title, meta description and page content. Google can tell if a keyword makes sense on a  page. If it doesn’t, users are not able to find the search result.


How Many Keywords Should I Use?

You may stumble upon debates from people wondering how many keywords to use on one page to rank high in SERP. These people are trying to optimize for search engines instead of optimizing for users. Change your mindset. Search engines are designed to think like users, so if I word seems repetitive, it is. Use another word. Otherwise, Google will see you as a “keyword stuffer.”

Yes, you should use the keyword you are targeting a lot on your page. But there are a few best practices you can keep in mind when it comes to placing them: 

  • Mention your keyword in the page title or  headline: This font is usually bigger than the font on the rest of the page. It’s a header tag. This tells searchers and search engines what your page is about. It tells the reader visually and search engines “This is important” because the font is big.
  • Place the keyword two times  in the first paragraph: You want your users to find a matching topic between the search four and your landing page.
  • Repeat the keyword at least three or three times in the page content: You are still going to use it as part of the content, a reference to the topic (keyword) of your page will make the page rank higher in SERP/ 
  • Embed your keywords in your images: Make sure the ALT text and the filename of your image includes the keyword. In other words, save and upload the image as a file with your keyword. 
  • Don’t go overboard: If you feel you repeated a keyword too many times, you probably have. Read your text and remove the ones you don’t need. Use the thesaurus function in Word or Google Docs.


Turn Your Keywords into Titles and Headlines

Highlight the keywords by thinking of problems, or questions people might enter into Google. For example, if you sell home interior paint, you may come up with headlines like:

10 Painting Ideas You Can Try At Home

Painting at Home: What To Know

Why We’re the best painters in Chicago

How to paint rooms in winter


Keywords vs. Queries: The Same or Different?

You might think that keywords and queries are the same, but they are not. Keywords are the specific terms that people use in a search box. They change depending on the words used and the order of the words. A search query is a question made to a search engine to solve a problem, like “how do I paint rooms in winter?”

A search query does not depend on how the words are spelled or organized. The results will only change if the main question behind it does. While search engine results are based on keywords, they are also based on the goal of the user.  

Another way to think of it is this: Search queries refer to the text your audience is searching for, while keywords are the terms you’re investing in time, and in the case of ads, money in. keywords pictures


Putting It All Together

You want to make sure you have something of a strategy about keywords. Some people are intuitive about it. Others prefer to use tools that will give them prompts with proof that the word is the right one.

In either case, you want to structure content around those keywords, using them in page titles, headlines, the body of the text, and subheads on a page. You want to include them on alt tags in pictures too.

That said, you don’t want to use those keywords too much.

Confused? It is kind of confusing and big tech intends to keep it that way. That proprietary information keeps them on the top of the kingdom.

If you don’t want to stay up to date with SEO trends, and keyword research, SEO Design Chicago can handle this part of your digital marketing plan for you. 

We offer SEO keyword research and SEO focused content creation to businesses. Our team of web developers, researchers and writers are the best in the business. 

Many of our clients have us create websites, rewrite web pages on existing sites, or supply new content in the form of blog posts (new content earns you extra points in SERP) with the right keywords in mind. 

We can also write new product or services pages, or rewrite existing ones to better match the phrases and queries people are actually making.

If and when you want to test out Google ads, we excel at keyword research, bidding prices and ad content creation.

When every part of your digital marketing strategy, which includes SEO keywords, gets a tune up, the various parts of your business start to work together in harmony. You should notice an increase in web traffic, increased queries and ideally, increased sales. 

It doesn’t happen overnight, but with the right team of marketers by your side, it will and can happen.

Let’s start with a free SEO analysis of any page on your website. Reach out, we’ll examine it, and then we’ll talk about what can be improved and how we might help you.

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