There are a lot of conflicting ideas when it comes to keywords. Some SEO professionals (Australian Internet Advertising included) think that other metrics play a far greater role in improving your page ranks than a few key phrases. Others place more emphasis on the value of keywords and argue that the keyword phrases with a high search volume will impact your ranking and overall traffic. And, then, of course, there are those who still SEO with a keyword-stuffed page.
So, what’s a smart keyword strategy? Or, more specifically, what’s the ideal number of keywords you should tag to ensure a good position in the search engine results page?
As with all other things SEO, the answer to this question is: it depends.
We know, not the answer you were looking for, but read further as we will dive deeper into how to use keywords strategically.
What a Lot of People Get Wrong about Keywords
Back in the early 2000s, the recipe for ranking high in Google’s results page was quite easy. Find niche keywords that other marketers are ignoring and cram them into your content. The more you used those keywords per page, the higher the chances Google will put your page at the top of their search engine results page.
All that changed with the Google Panda update in 2011 when it started using semantic search over long-tail keywords or short keywords.
Search engines nowadays don’t operate like that anymore. The algorithm has evolved to such an extent that it can interpret and understand the context of a query.
Take the words “sneakers” and “sports shoes” for example. They both refer to the same thing: footwear designed for physical activity. Google knows that these key phrases mean the same thing, but it treats them differently as the target audience that usually searches for “sneakers” differs from those who use the keyword “sports shoes.”
Nowadays, it’s not only about keyword density, but about understanding the role your keywords play in generating traffic, how your prospects use them, and on what specific pages they work versus where you need to adjust your strategy. And, all that starts with good keyword research.
The Basics of Good Keyword Research
Before you can determine the number of keywords you should tag on your web page, it’s essential to know what key phrases people are actually using when searching for your business or products.
As we’ve already explained, the search intent matters more than the exact keywords people type in when searching for your products and services. That’s why it’s important to know how to interpret the keywords you will target.
Let’s say you’re researching the key phrase “how to get a cat” for a blog post. This can either refer to adopting a cat or buying a cat from a pet store. The user intent behind this keyword will influence the direction of your article.
With that in mind, here is the keyword research process you should follow.
- Start with the Core Searched Terms
These are the key phrases that define your business. For example, if you are launching a web store that sells iPhone accessories, then your core keywords will obviously be: iPhone accessories, iPhone add-ons, and so on.
- Look for Related Search Terms
If you have a hard time figuring out what keywords people may be using when searching for your products, go to Google and look at the related search terms that appear when you type in your key phrases.
- Aim for a Mix of Short and Long-Tail Keywords
Although short tail keywords are searched more frequently, they are also more competitive, making it really difficult to rank high for them. As a rule of thumb, you should opt for a mix of both head and long-tail keywords.
- See How Your Competitors Are Doing
If your competitors are ranking high for key phrases that you are targeting too, then it’s definitely worth it to try and improve your SEO strategy. But, there may be a hidden opportunity here. Look for keywords that have potential, but your competitors are ignoring to boost your rankings.
- Use the Right Tools
Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to analyse your list of keywords and determine which ones can help you and which are not worth your while. The Keyword Planner will give you valuable data, such as volume and traffic estimates for the key phrases you are considering.
- Choose the Landing Pages
Once you have a list of the keywords you want to use, assign them to the appropriate landing page. Then, include the keywords strategically into the content, title tag, meta description, product description, and so on.
How Many Keywords Should You Target?
You have your list of keywords and your specific pages. Now the burning question is: how many key phrases should you target per page.
You can have as little as one, but no more than four. More than that will make it quite difficult to fit all your keywords into the title tags and meta descriptions.
From here, you can estimate the number of keywords per page that you will need to track.
As a rule of thumb, you want to take the number of landing pages that you want to track and multiply that number by the number of keywords per page (as we’ve established that number can be between one and four.) Then multiply the number of landing pages by 2.5, which is the average of the keyword per page range.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you want to target two landing pages. Between these pages and your homepages, you should expect to track around 16 keywords.
Of course, depending on your industry and for how long you’ve been in the business, the number of keywords you will have to track can vary immensely. A reputable website with an established online presence can have as much as a few hundreds of keywords to track.
Every Business Is Different
There are no one-size-fits-all tricks in digital marketing. While all these are general guidelines that you should keep in mind when determining the number of keywords you should target and track, the truth is that it all gets down to your business.
We’re not saying that you should start stuffing your content with keywords, but as far as tracking goes, you may find out that tracking less key phrases works better for you than tracking more.
Here at Australian Internet Advertising, we understand that each business is unique and has to deal with its particular set of challenges. And, we are ready to tackle them one by one. Whether it’s SEO, content marketing, or social media marketing, we are up for the job.
Get in touch with our Sydney search engine optimisation experts and tell us what you would like to achieve with your online presence, and we can help you plan for success and reach your goals.