Utilising Keywords To Boost SEO (Chapter 2)

a jumble of letters to go with a jumble of keywords.
Home | Guides | Utilising Keywords To Boost SEO (Chapter 2)
Last updated: August 2023

How To Use Your Keyword Research Effectively

If you’ve read Chapter 1 of our guide to keyword research, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how to get started with your keyword research. However, once you’ve got your list of keywords to hand, it’s not always immediately obvious what you should be doing with them.

While the exact application of your keywords will depend on your industry and overall SEO goals, we’ve put together some general tips on utilising your keywords within your content strategy to help prime your website for SEO success.

Matching Keyphrases to the Right Pages

After your initial keyword research is complete, you should have a sizable spreadsheet of key words and phrases which are relevant to your business niche. These should be grouped into core themes of primary search terms and variant words that can be used as a preposition or supposition to increase the length of your key phrase and brand-focused terms. So, what next?

In order to make best use of your research, you need to divide these between the sectors and service areas of your site. Which are the most important phrases for your business? These should be targeted towards the home page of your site. Local geographical keywords, perhaps, will target your Contact page or pages specific to your regional offices. If you run an eCommerce website that sells shoes, phrases relating to “blue welly boots” need to target the blue welly boots page of your site, and so on.

A key point to remember is not to confuse the search engines. If you target the same set of phrases towards multiple pages within your site, it is sometimes difficult for the algorithm to make a decision on which page they see as most authoritative, and subsequently, they are likely to reduce the authority of all the pages and feature a page from another site that is more obviously relevant. The goal of all onsite SEO is to make it as easy as possible for the search engines to see what each page in your site is relevant for.

As such, each page on your site should have a set of search terms that you think are most applicable to it and most appropriate for the content on that page. Make sure that users who search for “red welly boots” aren’t being taken to a page full of sandals; you’re making it harder for them to find what they want, and they’re more likely to leave your site and go to your competitors instead.

How Many Keywords Can I Use?

There is no set number of phrases that a page can be seen as relevant for, but it’s a good idea to limit the number of primary phrases for each page to fewer than five. You can have as many variations of a primary phrase as you like, but it’s tricky to focus a page and its content on too many different core phrases.

Sticking with the wellington boot example, “red wellies”, “spotty wellies” and “frog-eyed wellies” could easily all be targeted to the same page, since they’re all related. If, however, you then started talking about walking boots, riding boots and football boots, you would be watering down the page’s focus, and though you’ll gain some ranking authority for these other footware related keyphrases you’ll reduce the power of the welly-specific keywords.

This isn’t a strict rule, but under normal circumstances, I’d be inclined to have a page about wellington boots, another about football boots and another about walking boots, and continuing on until you have all the pages you need. Better SEO results are achieved by focusing on a set of related keywords rather than over-diversifying.

Additionally, trying to cram too many keywords into one page can be difficult to optimise for, and result in “keyword stuffing”, or content written specifically for search engine algorithms that doesn’t make sense. As a rule, you’ll want to avoid overloading your content with keywords. Not only will it be difficult to read, but you may end up penalised by search engines in the long run. Content, in general, should be clearly written, informative, and helpful, long enough to provide valuable insight but not so long that it overwhelms the user, with the inclusion of keywords and phrases occurring naturally throughout.

Where To Deploy Keywords for SEO

There are several places you’ll want to pay attention to when optimising your website using your keyword research. They are as follows:

  1. The URL: Always make sure to include your keywords in the URL when possible. Your URL will be crawled by search engines and is one of the first signals of what your page is about.
  2. Page Titles: Page titles (or meta titles) are what show on search engines to tell your audience what to expect when they click on this result. They should be short, but descriptive, and ideally, your main keyword should appear towards the beginning to help search engines understand what your page is about.
  3. Meta Descriptions: Like page titles, meta descriptions appear on search engine results pages. While still relatively short, they are slightly more in-depth and descriptive than the page title. While not a direct ranking factor, the meta description can still help indicate the relevance of your content to the search term and encourage clicks to the site, which is why it’s important to ensure they are keyword optimised.
  4. Page Headings: On-page headings (or heading tags) help your audience to scan the content quickly, and again help to define what your page is about. However, it is best to carefully include your keywords in some headings, but not all of them, to avoid penalties for keyword stuffing.
  5. Content: Throughout your content, you’ll want to make sure you’re including your keywords, and their variations, in a natural way that reads well and doesn’t detract from the quality of your pages. Make sure you’re utilising plenty of synonyms and modifiers to maximise the amount of search terms your content will rank for.
  6. Links: Links are an important SEO ranking factor, and you can optimise your keywords by including them in the anchor text of your links. Internal links help search engine bots find your content, and using descriptive anchor text can help inform them what the target page is about, providing an SEO boost.
  7. Images: The images you use on your website will also be indexed by search engines, providing another touchpoint where web browsers might discover your content. You can also utilise image optimisation to make browsing your website easier for those living with disabilities. Ensure all images have file names, titles, and descriptive alt text that reflects their purpose.

Beware Keyword Cannibalisation

Keyword cannibalisation refers to in-site competition for keywords between different pages.

An important part of key word usage is the construction of internal links, including incorporating a key phrase within the anchor text – the visible part of the link. The hyperlink text should relate to the content of the page it links to, and using this signal Google takes a hint to the context of the target page.

For example, a link that reads “white label SEO” is likely to point to a page that discusses and is relevant to that specific topic. So, if you want to show Google that you offer a top quality white label SEO service, you ought to publish as many pages about the topic as possible and link them all together, right? Well, Google is only looking to return the most relevant result it can find, and if they’re all interlinked with the same anchor text then it’s hard for Google to decide which one best matches the query.

In this scenario, instead of having a dozen links targeting a single page about private label SEO, there are several pages with three or four links to each. This makes it hard for Google to understand which page to display, which could lead it to display the wrong page (or a competitor’s page).

The solution is to select the page which you want Google to rank, and point as many other pages as possible towards it using internal links with relevant anchor text. This sends the signal that this is the page that deals with “white label SEO”, giving Google the information it needs to make the best decision.

What Should I Do with Leftover Keywords?

During this keyword research process, you may find a set of words that you can’t find a home for. My footwear site, for example, may not have a dedicated page about riding boots and yet my research has shown it to be a popular term. Because I do sell riding boots, this research would potentially lead me to create a dedicated page for them and incorporate the keywords that my research has suggested – this could be a valuable addition to my online store, which would have been overlooked had I not conducted keyword research. However, it may not always be so simple.

Additionally, you may land up with terms related to your primary product pages that are important but not ones that you want to use on your main page – ones that are a little more specialised, or less valuable. These are perfect for deeper level content and blog posts so don’t delete them; save them for use within future content related to this primary page, or find a URL within your existing site that already has relevance and incorporate them within it.

For more information on this, read our guide to creating a content hierarchy. In the guide, we cover how to use blog posts and articles within your site to develop the relevance of multiple sets of long tail key phrases all focussed on a single core theme. Creating a framework for your content is an important part of developing good keyphrases and boosting your site’s SEO.

Finally, look at the list of variants that you have compiled. Have you used versions of them in combination with all of your primary terms for each of the pages of your site? If not then fill in the gaps to expand your list. You can’t have too many variations of a primary search term when it comes to writing content. For example, the more eagle-eyed of you may have noticed that I am varying between the use of “keyword and “key word” within this article, ensuring that this page is optimised for both closely-related search terms.

Auditing Your Content for Keyword Optimisation

When it comes to utilising your keywords, you’ll want to consider the relevance of your keyword list for each page of your site, ensure all relevant aspects are organised, utilise variants where possible, and be mindful of the hierarchy of your content. It can be a lot to think about at once, but at Bespoke Digital, our team are on hand to assist you. To get started with your content audit, feel free to get in touch with our team.

Related Topics:

If you have any comments or questions about this post, or would like to discuss a specific issue with your site, please get in touch using the form below.

And connect with us on social media to stay upto date with our latest news:

Magnus Linklater SEO Consultant

Author: Magnus Linklater

Magnus is an SEO specialist and online marketing professional with over 25 years of digital and traditional marketing experience.

As the founder of Bespoke Digital, Magnus has worked on technical site audits and content marketing campaigns for hundreds of clients and regularly writes about SEO strategy, tips & tricks.

Find Magnus on LinkedIn

Looking for something different?

Follow us on social media

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This