Turning Your Keywords into Content Marketing: On-site Keyword Optimization

Last time, we looked at how beginners can use all sorts of data tools and research methods to find keywords that will guarantee a certain level of success. It’s time to start using your carefully-researched keywords. There are three basic places you’ll want to use your keywords: website content, PPC campaigns, and within your site’s structure.

Website Content: This is the part we love the most. Content development can be a blast when you write it naturally. Make it something real people can read, not just robots and search engine crawlers. Include keywords sparingly where they fit best—using them for headings, titles, and subheadings when applicable is even better. Just like HigherVisibility.com says, “make your content flow naturally,” and squeeze in a keyword here and there where it’s applicable.

You don’t want to focus too narrowly on just one keyword so much as you want to be relevant to many related keywords. By using a breadth of related keywords, search engines will classify you as an authority in all of your related keywords, meaning you’ll rank better for more keywords, faster. You should also be careful that you don’t stuff your content with keywords, or just make pages with nothing but high-value keywords. Google frowns on this, and it could get your site punished or removed from search results entirely.

PPC Campaigns: PPC campaigns aren’t necessarily more advanced than regular web content, but they take a different set of skills, and enough confidence in your keywords, to start betting on them. With a careful eye for details and a Google AdWords account, you can draw more visitors to your website through sponsored search engine results.

Search Engine Journal’s Wasim Ismail has an excellent guide for getting started with PPC ads. Make sure that your PPC ad has your targeted keyword somewhere within the text, either in the title or the body text. Also, make sure it directs clicks to a page that is appropriate for that keyword. We highly recommend making additional PPC landing pages specifically for similar groups of PPC ads as well. PPC landing pages should be simple, straight to the point, and should be optimized for one or more of the keywords that their respective PPC ad(s) use.

Focus on using more targeted, long tail keywords with the added contextual cues attached to them in your PPC ads. Generic, short keywords might produce lots of PPC ad hits, but not necessarily lots of conversions. Long tail keywords with specific components to them might produce relatively fewer hits overall, but more of them will result in conversions—making them more valuable.

Internal Site Structure: Many SEOs and online marketers still argue the benefits of these optimizations, but we have yet to see compelling evidence of why you shouldn’t optimize the nuts and bolts that make up your website. There are plenty of places you can put keywords that aren’t immediately apparent to your visitors, and are instead tucked away within your website’s HTML code.

Each page of your website has multiple places for text you can use for keyword optimization. Here’s a short list of tags you can use keywords in, and their limitations.

  • Title tags: Put your most important keyword phrase in your title tag, or try to use it in the title of a blog post or page header. Making your most important keyword part of the most prominent area of text on the page sends a big signal to search engines that this keyword is important to you.
  • Short Lists: You can include a little “short list” at the footer of your website with four or five major keywords. These are visible, and search engines will immediately know what’s most important to your optimization needs.
  • Heading tags: When writing web content, like a blog or webpage, you’ll often use heading tags and text formatting to denote emphasis. Separating a section with an <H1> tag or <strong> formatting will make the formatted text stand out on the page. Adding keywords to these formatted text sections is a good way to signal search engines that these keywords are important to the page they are on.
  • Alt Text image tags: Alt text is text you put in place of an image. While the image loads, visitors will see this text displayed. Alt text tells search engines what your image is, since search engines can’t “see” images themselves.
  • Anchor text: Whenever you link to another page, it’s best to highlight a group of relevant words and apply the link to them. When a visitor clicks those words, they’ll know that they’re being taken to a website that’s relevant to the words they have clicked. Putting relevant keywords in that link text is another formatting signal of keyword importance to search engines.
  • Meta Description: Meta Descriptions are very important; they display a clip of information about your website after a search is performed. Meta Description is the “lead in” to your site, so be sure it accurately summarizes information so that it will attract readers. While Meta Descriptions are not important to search engine rankings, they are vital part of the click-through process. One best practice is to include a keyword in the meta description…or is that because the word should actually be relevant enough that any description would naturally include it? (psst – yes!)
  • Keyword Meta tag: Matt Cutts would like to have a word with you. Use the keyword meta tag at your own peril. Meta tags are commonly abused for cheap black-hat SEO gains, and since Matt’s video from 2010, Google now completely ignores the keyword meta tag altogether.

Give these tips a shot, and try to write and create web content that’s optimized with a selection of your highly researched, lead-producing keywords. If writing all these keywords is too much of a chore, just send your keywords to the professionals! Next time, we’ll look at how you can check on your keyword performance with Adwords, Google Analytics, and a little common sense.

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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