Google handles an average of 6.9 billion searches per day. Every. Single. Day. Before the pandemic, the number was closer to 3 billion, but with most of us spending so much time indoors we’re pretty much googling everything now.
Do note that this is just one search engine. Granted, it’s the biggest one but it still doesn’t account for all the searches in the world.
When people spend more time online, SEO becomes more important…again. With a looming crisis on the horizon, you want every competitive advantage you can get while the getting’s good.
If you’re a regular on SiteProNews, you know I’ve written a lot about SEO intent and choosing the right keywords, so I won’t rehash this. Today, I’d like to talk about something seemingly basic because as it usually happens with basic things, it often gets overlooked.
So, you’ve found the right focus keyword. Now all you have to do is make it shine. Where do you place it for a maximum impact?
Here’s the roadmap my agency uses to get our clients’ content on the first page of Google:
1. The URL
Adding your focus keyword in the URL is probably the first item on the list of overlooked things. If you use WordPress, for instance, you’ll see that the editor automatically creates an URL for you.
Don’t assume that the machine is smarter than you. Double-check it and make sure it has the entire keyword in it, especially if you’re using a long-tail keyword (which I highly recommend).
Having your focus keyword in the URL tells both Google bots and human readers that they’ve landed in the right place for that topic. You’d be surprised at how many human readers analyze the URL before clicking on it.
2. The Title of the Article
Not everyone reads the URL. But everyone reads the title, so this is a key placement for your keyword. If possible, try to use an exact match of your keyword.
However, don’t sacrifice readability or a punchy, sexy title just to fit in an extra-long keyword. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to use it.
3. The Meta Description
Ideally, start your meta description with your focus keyword. The more prominent its spot is, the more clear it makes the topic of your content. Again, this works wonders for both human readers and search engine bots.
This is what one of our high-ranking articles looks like in SERPs:
The keyword (in bold) is at the very beginning, promising users an in-depth look at exactly what they were looking for. This is one of the factors that attracted a lot of readers to our article and even a lot of new leads that easily converted into clients.
4. The First 100-200 Words of Text
Yes, we’re still in the realm of making things clear as soon as possible. Try adding your focus keyword in the very first paragraph or at least before you hit 200 words.
Not possible? Add a close variation of your keyword.
5. The Last 100-200 Words of Text
Finish strong. Add the keyword in your last paragraph, as close to the end as possible.
For extra points, add it to your final CTA too, but make sure it’s not part of the anchor of a link that leads to another page.
6. The Alt Tags of Images
The relevance of keywords in image alt tags has been quite a controversy in the SEO world. From my experience, it never hurts. At the very least, it will take your image higher in SERPs, if not the entire article.
Additionally, fill in all the fields in the image description. Don’t repeat the same keyword. Add variations of it instead or LSI keywords.
7. Headings and Subheadings
If you use more than one type of subheading (H2, H3, H4) add your keyword in at least one of each. Again, don’t overdo it – the keyword shouldn’t be everywhere.
8. Throughout the Text
Sprinkle your entire text with your focus keyword. But (and this is very important!) don’t overdo it. Gone are the days when a 5% keyword density was acceptable. Stick to less than 2%, ideally less than 1%.
This is more than enough if you use it in all the other places mentioned above and if you also use variations of it and LSI keywords.
As always, my recommendation is to aim for balance and, most of all, readability. If you feel like your keyword doesn’t sound natural in any of these places, ditch it without remorse. Never sacrifice readability and a good flow for SEO purposes. Readers hate it and, ironically enough, so do search engines.
Need help with striking this balance AND ranking high in SERPs? My team of expert SEO writers and I are just a click away. Let’s talk!