Keywords, as the name suggests, are key to getting your content noticed by search engines such as Google. Adding keywords to your content helps search engines understand what your content is about so they can better match it with searchers looking for the type of information you’re offering. 

By choosing and using the right keywords, you can rank better on search engine results pages (SERPs), reach more users and gain domain authority. But what is a keyword and how do you know which keyword is going to perform best in your content? Gemini’s ace team of SEO professionals and content creators spend countless hours studying the data, conducting trial and error experiments and tracking the latest updates to help our clients choose the best keywords for their content. We’ll tell you how we do it.

What is a Keyword?

Birdseye view of a table top with several people working. The terms concept, web and SEO are circled above with "Keywords" intersecting them.

A keyword is essentially a search term that describes your content. Search terms are the words and phrases you put into Google or other search engines to find information about any given topic. For example: if your bathroom drain is backed up, you might use “how to unclog a drain” as your search term. 

By using optimized keywords, your piece of content is more likely to show up at the top of the results page. This means it’ll be one of the first results users see when they search terms related to your topic. To succeed you’ll need a keyword strategy that employs several types of keywords.

Types of Keywords 

Let’s look at keywords through three different lenses.

1. User Intent

User intent simply refers to the reason someone conducts an internet search. Here are the keyword definitions for user intent search terms:

  • Informational keywords: used to answer a question.
  • Navigational keywords: used to find a location or page.
  • Commercial keywords: used to find information on brands or services.
  • Transactional keywords: used to purchase or complete a transaction.

2. Tail Length

Another way to  classify keywords is by how specific they are. We use “tail length” as a gauge for how deep into a specific topic a term reaches. These are divided into three categories:

  • Long tail keywords are very specific niche terms geared toward low volume searches that are easy to rank for because there isn’t strong competition.
  • Short tail keywords are very general search terms that will have a high search volume but are difficult to rank for because of greater competition for them.
  • Medium tail keywords fall in the middle. While they don’t generate as much traffic they are easier to rank for and can generate measurable results.

3. Priority

Once you know the intent and tail size of your keywords, you can determine which keywords are most valuable to your piece of content and prioritize them:

  • Primary keywords are your main focus. You’ll want to use these in the title of your content and your subheadings. 
  • Secondary keywords are related terms and variations of your primary keyword. Use these throughout your content every few hundred words.
  • Semantic keywords are terms that are related to your topic but not direct search terms. For example: in a blog about general car maintenance, “oil filter” might be a semantic term. Use semantic terms when they fit naturally within your content.

How to Find Keywords

A person at their desk has a laptop open to a keyword search.

Finding keywords involves using some sort of keyword research tool. 

Opinions vary on which keyword research tools are the best. Popular options include Semrush, Ahrefs and Moz. These applications will give you valuable data about each keyword including:

  • The amount of traffic it receives 
  • How difficult it is to rank for it 
  • What SERP features the keyword appears in
  • The volume of URLs that display in the organic search results

These keyword rankings are valuable for determining which keywords to use in your content. Additionally, some of these applications will allow you to see which keywords your competition is ranking for and which keyword gaps you need to fill.

How to Choose Good Keywords 

You’ll want to strike a careful balance with your keyword list. If you choose a term that’s too general or too popular, you’ll have a difficult time ranking for it. If you choose a niche term that not many people search for, it may rank well but it won’t attract much traffic. In most cases you’ll want to shoot for medium tail keywords.

Let’s look at an example of how you might choose keywords for your blog. Say you’re an appliance company and you want to create a post about rice cookers. You might start by typing “rice cooker” in the search bar of your keyword research tool. Chances are you’ll get a lot of results and the terms with the most traffic will also have a high keyword difficulty.

You scroll through the results and discover some good medium tail keywords such as “Rice cooker recipes” and “How long does a rice cooker take” which still have great traffic but much lower keyword difficulty. By combining these and similar terms, you can create a great topic about cooking meals with your product. Question keywords give you a perfect opportunity to answer questions that consumers might have about your product. They may even show up in SERP features like FAQ or People Also Ask. 

How Many Keywords Should I Use?

A business card that says "Focus on" with two boxes beneath  to check for quality or quantity. A person with a pen is about to check "quality."

There’s no magic formula to how many keywords you should use in your content. You’ll want to decide on one primary keyword for your title and then use variations of it throughout your content. You’ll then want to select strong secondary keywords to incorporate in every text block.

The trick is to use your keywords so that they easily flow for your readers. Don’t sacrifice the quality and readability of your content by plugging in awkward search terms. Poorly written content loses rankings and loses readers. Good content that establishes you as a reliable information source is always best.

Don’t be “spammy” with your keywords by using them an obnoxious number of times. Google has become better at recognizing keyword stuffing and punishes those who simply fill their content with keywords rather than provide substance.

Finally, if you’re optimizing an existing piece of content, don’t lose any of your currently ranking keywords. Use your keyword research tool to check which keywords are already ranking in your content to ensure you don’t delete them while making your changes.

Where Should Keywords Be Placed?

Keyword placement is an important piece of your overall keyword strategy. As discussed earlier, you’ll want to incorporate your primary keyword into your H1 or main headline. Continue to add variations of your primary keyword every 150 words or so. And, be sure to use this keyword in the final 200 words of your content, which is usually your call to action.

Use your secondary keywords in your H2s or subheadings. Make sure each new section of text is introduced with a keyword rich headline that helps your reader scan the page and find the information they want. Whenever you use anchor text to add links to your page incorporate your secondary keywords.

Another area you’ll want to use your keywords is in your pages’ metadata. This is the mini description and mini title of your page that search engines publish in their organic results. The right keyword helps Google understand what is on your page and what searches to rank it for.

Lastly, use your keywords for your image alt text whenever possible and in your URLs. 

Track Keywords and Optimize Content

You’re never truly finished with your content. Even after you publish a piece, you need to track its performance and update it as needed. No matter how diligently you choose your keywords, they don’t always deliver results. Even when they do deliver, that success will wane over time. 

Two office workers create a keyword list at their desk.

Keep your content fresh and functional by periodically optimizing it. Track the keywords you used and measure their performance. When content doesn’t perform as well as you’d like, analyze which keywords are ranking and replace the ones that aren’t. Add new keywords that match user intent and look at competitor rankings. This will help you inject new life into your existing content.

Elevate Your SEO with the Right Keywords

Researching and implementing the best keywords in well-written content and then tracking the results can be an exhausting process. Having a professional marketing team that’s experienced in keyword strategy, keyword placement and keyword tracking can mean the difference between getting your content noticed on Google’s first page or being lost in the heap of other results.

Contact Gemini today to talk with our friendly marketing team. We’ll get you started with a carefully crafted marketing plan that includes SEO keywords and well-written content.