If you’re new to blogging you’ve probably heard that it’s necessary to target certain keywords.
Google uses these keywords to establish relevancy of an article and categorize it accordingly.
This will give you advantage for certain phrases while downgrading your content for others.
During this process, some content writers go overboard trying to forcefully rank for numerous keywords from one article even though it may not make sense.
Is this the right thing to do? How many keywords should you target?
How to determine which phrases should be in article and which shouldn’t?
I will answer these questions and many more so stick with me.
Things you have to know about Google
As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous articles, Google’s algorithms haven’t developed overnight. It was a meticulous process that lasted for many years and brought us to where we are right now.
Not to bother you with theory, this was the end result that we have today:
- Normally written article should have your main keyword and lots of synonyms and semantically related keywords
- Your article needs to flow naturally without any over optimization, meaning you should avoid keyword stuffing
- If you have a highly-optimized article, you will probably be able to rank for many closely related keywords simultaneously
Nowadays, Google gives advantage to relevant information and well-structured content.
First and foremost, articles need to be written with your audience in mind. Otherwise, you will never get the necessary user engagement, backlinks and social shares that will propel it to the first page of Google.
Some people may argue that it is possible to reach first 5 spots in Google without this step.
Yes, this might still be possible with blackhat SEO methods or for keywords with really low competition.
However, this is not the focus of this blog nor is it the way we SEO at NikSto.
Next section is even more important so keep on reading!
How does Google see a copy?
This is the most important part.
When the search engine analyzes an article, it doesn’t understand the main purpose behind it. Google turns all your words and phrases into vectors and then, establishes relationships between these vectors.
However, there are certain universal factors that help Google understand content:
- Words used in the title
- Words used in the first paragraph
- Keyword repetition
- Close proximity of certain words and phrases
- Keyword clouds (clusters)
Words used in the title
Whenever you write about something, it is logical that your main keyword will appear in the title. Google understands this and always gives special attention to words and phrases that are within it.
However, given that there can be numerous words it the title; search engine cannot understand the point of the article solely based on this.
Furthermore, it doesn’t know what the main keyword is.
“Experts’ opinion on Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia”
Google may see “experts’ opinion”, “expert”, “opinion”, “experts’ opinion on”, “Flinders University”, “Flinders University Adelaide”.
You get it.
Words within the title have more weight than the rest but are still not enough to determine the real purpose of the article.
This is why Google requires more data.
Words used in the first paragraph
Besides appearing in the title, you main keyword should also appear in the first paragraph. Ideally, you should place it in the first sentence.
This way, Google can notice the obvious correlation between the two and already at the point; it can establish that this might be your main keyword.
This is not enough nevertheless because if you mentioned this keyword only in title and first paragraph, Google may ultimately see it as a random occurrence that isn’t necessary detrimental.
If your main keyword is in the title, first paragraph and is repeated numerous times throughout the copy, this is enough for Google to be certain that this is your main phrase.
Although this is most likely enough for Google to register a keyword it is not enough for you to rank.
This is why we need to be vigilant when it comes to proximity between phrases and keyword clouds.
Proximity and keyword clouds
Google has noticed your main keyword by now and understands the content.
Next step is to add all related keywords and synonyms.
Again, Google needs to establish correlation between your main phrase and all other keywords.
So, make sure to use them close to each other.
“Summer in Disney Park, Orlando”
Having just “Disney Park” is enough for Google to notice your main keyword.
But, even though the article revolves around it, Google may perceive it as shallow not providing enough information to end user.
This will instantly downgrade your article in SERPs.
Adding other related keywords such as “Mickey”, “Entertainment for kids”, “Things to see in US” makes the bond even stronger giving your article more weight and pin-pointing just the right phrase you need to rank for.
Google loves seeing these related phrases perceiving the article as really thorough.
Proximity also needs to be considered.
It is much better if you have “Mickey in Disney Park” than having these two phrases in different paragraphs.
Why is this important?
Modern copywriters cannot spam content with one and the same keyword.
Instead, they have to create a meaningful copy that will describe the topic perfectly. In order to do that, you will require a lot of synonyms and semantically related keywords.
How does this affect Google?
Simply put, if you have an amazing, well-optimized copy, you can never rank only for one keyword.
Google will see you fit not only for your main phrase but all related synonyms (for example, Disney Park and Entertainment Park).
Now, perhaps you won’t be among top 5 for each one of them but you will likely be near the top.
In other words,
“Number of keywords you’re able to rank for is based on quality and fullness of your copy”
Targeting numerous keywords at once can be observed from two perspectives:
- Related keywords
- Unrelated keywords
Targeting related keywords
This basically pertains to a set of keywords (keyword cloud if you will).
As previously mentioned, if you have a well-optimized article on your hands, this article will rank for numerous closely related keywords and synonyms whether you like it or not.
This is why, when doing keyword research, you need to pay attention not only to you main keyword but all other related keywords that may get a rub.
Targeting related keywords comes naturally; you won’t have to do anything special.
However, the same rules still apply:
- Its better if your secondary keywords are in the title or first paragraph
- There needs to be obvious connection to other relevant keywords
- You require certain number of repetitions
Targeting unrelated keywords
The second method is much trickier.
Here are some of the issues you might encounter in the process:
- It is really hard to convince Google that you copy is both about “Flinders University” and “Disney Park, Orlando”
- Google will likely give advantage to articles that are focused on one keyword or keyword cloud
- Lack of focus may have negative effect on link givers
- It may also have negative effect on readers
When targeting unrelated keywords you should pay attention to both Google and its interpretation of article as well as people who will read that article afterwards.
Personally, I would never recommend this approach as it is a logistic nightmare.
Based on all this, it is possible to rank for numerous keywords as long as they are related.
I would never suggest trying to rank for unrelated keywords. Instead, it is much better to write 2 or 3 different copies and promote each one of them separately.
No matter what you decide, you will have to create natural, high quality articles that will attract the necessary attention.
Do you consider clouds when writing your content? How many keywords do you try to target per copy? Share it in the comment section below!