The anxiety around SEO keywording often distracts from the real purpose of keywords: to tell search engines you’re talking about something people want to see.
A keyword became a keyword because people were using it to find a certain thing, not the word itself. The words are only a means to an end. They’re a tool you use to increase the value of your content, not a slave driver dictating the limits of your language and topics. That’s the kind of thing that leads to keyword stuffing and click bait strategies. So to keep your topics and content pure, here are 3 ways to write with SEO practices, rather than write for the list of words the analytics told you are popular.
1. Don’t Stop with Google’s Keyword Planner Tool
The keyword planner tool is essential for keywording, but it’s only telling you what people are searching, not why. One easy way to get that information is to go search the terms yourself. This will tell you a couple different important things:
- What these phrases are actually taking people to.
- How relevant the words really are to your business.
- Related topics of interest.
For example, when I enter “movie posters” into the keyword planner I get a varied list of posters. I can also see that people are more interested in vintage posters than anything.
A close second is “star posters,”which turns out to be a list of people searching for Star Wars posters, with a confused minority looking for posters of nonspecific “movie stars.”
I also come across the related but far less searched terms “cinema posters” and “original posters.” So we have a few terms to experiment with.
When I searched “vintage posters” I came up with a list of sites with a pretty broad range. Many of them dealt mostly in art, travel, or old ads. It also listed a few local antique stores selling vintage posters, so this is a good term to pay attention to, but not a good place to stop.
We also have that interesting term “original posters.” Vintage and cinema might speak for themselves, but it’s hard to say what people want when they type “original.” Searching the term brings up a scant list of sites offering the original cinema posters from old movies. But it also brings up a lot of high-priced works of art, and, again, antiques.
So it’s probably safe to say that you’re dealing with groups of people who are:
a) interested in home decoration,
c) and movie buffs.
Now that you have a better idea of who your potential audience is (assuming you sell old movie posters), you have a fairly strong pool of knowledge to start pulling blog topics and word choice from. For example, you could write blogs about ideas for poster placement through the house, or list the top ten best Elvis Presley movies. You also know that “movie poster” is far too general, so you should specify posters by genre, actor, or even decade to bring in the people searching more specific terms, and are therefore more likely to purchase something.
The other benefit of doing this kind of research is developing a natural sense of keywords, which helps with this next part…
2. Forget Keywords in Your First Draft
Writing means rewriting, so don’t worry about getting all the best words your first time through. You probably have a general idea of the words you need to use to discuss a topic, and a lot of words will come out naturally if you did your research before starting. Go back through to modify your word choices to better match search terms only after you’ve finally crafted a clear message to your audience.
There is a hierarchy when it comes to placement of keywords, so you also need to pay attention to where your doing this kind of editing. Here’s a simplified summary of that hierarchy from most important to least:
- Meta-description (this is what shows up on the SERP)
- Bulk content
3. Avoid Repetition
You don’t have to keep reusing the same keyword just because you know it gets used a lot. Most search algorithms specifically penalize content repeating the same words over and over. Fortunately, they’re also smart enough to include synonyms in results. On searching “original movie posters” not all of the results had the word “original” in them. Some only had “vintage” and there was even one paid ad that was “auction movie posters.” So long as your staying on point, the specific words in your long form content can and should branch out in order to allow for richer language.
The main thing is just to write naturally. The content will be more interesting that way, and optimization is a lot easier to manage when you already have decent content to work with. In fact, almost every time search engines update their algorithms, they make changes to encourage people to write good, genuine content. Do your research, find a topic, then forget about SEO and just write.