How to use keywords for a website – the basics
Last month I wrote a blog post about using keywords in blog posts (it was all very meta). However, keywords aren’t just for blog posts, they’re also helpful in planning out your website pages and on-page content.
SEO is one of those terms that I find intimidates anyone who’s not in SEO, including most marketers. Truthfully, for a long time, I only had a passing acquaintance with the term and used to nod and smile and keep quiet when people talked about keywords, canonical tags, or link-building. It seemed a very opaque area of marketing, basically, it worked like magic as far as I was concerned.
So, for my own professional knowledge to be able to better advise/reassure my clients, I’m trying to peek behind the curtain. What I’m discovering is that the scary technical side of SEO isn’t as important as creating great content for people and websites that are easy to navigate and have a great user journey. The basics of it aren’t even scary.
While there are some things you should do so that you’re not missing a trick, don’t feel like you need to obsess about having the perfect keyword for a website page because if you don’t, your business will fail. It won’t.
As a reminder of what keywords are, I’m going to use Yoast’s definition again:
“A keyword, or a focus keyword as some call it, is a word that describes the content on your page or post best. It’s the search term that you want to rank for with a certain page. So when people search for that keyword or phrase in Google or other search engines, they should find that page on your website.”
That’s it, that’s basically the dream. Someone looks for something you provide and they find you. Boom.
How to choose your keywords
Given that a keyword should be the one word or phrase that describes the page best, some pages will be obvious. For example, if you have a page detailing your social media services, you probably want your keyword to be “Social Media Services”. Simple. And that might be enough guidance for your five-page website. Your page keywords might be:
If you have a bigger, more complex website and want one-off sales pages or landing pages that take advantage of the latest trends, then you might want to do some keyword research. If you want to get granular about your keyword research and look at the volume of searches vs competition for that term, there are lots of (free) tools out there:
If you have a Google Ads account, Google Keywords Planner is good
Now on to how you’ll use these keywords in building your website.
Using keywords in planning your site structure
Make sure your keyword is actually what your page is about
When using keywords for website pages, you mainly want the keyword you choose to be led by the topic of that page. So, if you have a page about your legal services, you probably don’t want to choose “best muffin recipe” as your keyword. After all, the whole point of keywords is to signal to search engines at a glance what the page is about.
Be careful about fashionable keywords
You can create pages specifically for important keywords in your industry once you’ve done your keyword research, but the problem with that is that the popularity of keywords changes over time and fashion might move on without you. For example, “Books like Tiger King” might be a super popular long-tail keyword at one point in time in the publishing industry. If you create a timely sales page on your website that takes advantage of the buzz, great. If you choose that for the keyword for a key page that’s going to be used for years, that might be a mistake because no-one’s searching for that term a year later.
One focus keyword per page
Ideally, you only want one primary/focus keyword per website page. Each page should have a key function and you don’t want to have too many different topics on one page. Your homepage is probably an exception to this and that’s ok. For example, if you have a page dedicated to swimming pool strainer baskets and your keyword is “swimming pool strainers”, you probably don’t want to also feature your range of floaties on the same page.
Don’t use the same focus keyword for multiple pages
Don’t have multiple pages with the same content and the same keyword. Google won’t be able to decide which is more important and it doesn’t like that either.
You have your keywords and you’ve started writing your website pages. Where do they fit in?
URL: If you have your keyword for the page, why not use it in the URL for that page to make it super obvious?
SEO title or Page title: This is the page title that appears in the search engine. If you have a keyword for your page, can you use it there too?
Meta descriptions: Use your keywords in your page meta descriptions – the blurb that appears on search engines under the page title. If you’re managing your website yourself, different website platforms have different boxes for you to fill in for this (for example Wix just calls this function “SEO (Google)”), but it will probably be there somewhere.
So, for example: If people want to know who my clients are, I want them to be able to find my Clients page easily. So “clients” is in my URL, in the page title and in the meta description – as so:
Using keywords in on-page content
When you’re writing your page, try to use your keyword at least a couple of times in the written content – but make it look natural! Ideally, your keyword should be exactly what your page is about so it shouldn’t be hard. For example, if the keyword is “Social media services”, your intro paragraph on the page might be something like:
“We offer a range of social media services to our clients. From Instagram to LinkedIn, via Clubhouse, our social media services are bespoke to your precise needs as a business.”
You might close out the page with something like:
“If you’d like to find out more about our social media services, get in touch today on the dog and bone*.”
*Just some Cockney Rhyming Slang for those London fans out there.
It’s that easy.
I hope that this has demystified using keywords for website pages somewhat. There is a lot more to the SEO of building websites, but that can be saved for another time.