What are Keywords in SEO and 4 Helpful Ways to Implement Them

What are Keywords in SEO and 4 Helpful Ways to Implement Them logo

Knowing what are keywords in SEO and how to implement them is critical given that 82% of companies actively use content marketing to grow their business.

Keywords are the connection between what people are looking for and the content that contains the information that people are looking for. They also help search engines know what topics that the content has and organize the content based on the perceived topics that the keywords support.

There are five parts to understanding what are keywords in seo:

  • General Purpose
  • Primary and Secondary
  • Semantic Keywords
  • Short Head vs Long tail
  • Single vs. Multiple Words

The four ways implement keywords are:

  • Pick a niche topic
  • Research Keywords
  • Pick keywords that go well together
  • Place into Pages and Posts

What are Keywords in SEO?

1. General Purpose

The first part of understanding what are keywords in SEO (search engine optimization) is to understand the general purpose of them. Keywords are the connection between what people are looking for and the content that contains the information that people are looking for. They also help search engines know what topics that the content has and organize the content based on the perceived topics that the keywords support.

2. Primary and Secondary

The next part of understanding what are keywords in SEO is to understand primary and secondary keywords. Search engines and websites use primary keywords and secondary keywords to target specific search queries in order to rank higher in search results. Primary keywords are the main keywords that users typically type in to directly search for what they are looking for. 

Secondary keywords are usually different versions of the primary keywords or similar enough that people who put these keywords in are still looking for the same information or products as the primary keywords lead to.

3. Semantic Keywords

The next part of understanding what are keywords in SEO is to understand the purpose user look for keywords in the first place. Semantic keywords regard the intent behind why a user is looking for a specific keyword phrase. In other words, what are they looking for when they put this keyword in the search engine? 

For example, a person looking for ‘cat care’ likely wants to know how to care for a cat, possibly wants tips for caring for cats; that person likely does not want to find a book on cat care or a society for cat care and yet they will find that anyway. Which piece of content will that person most likely click on? The site that has tips for cat care.

Make sure the keywords that you are trying to rank your content for are relevant to what your content is about; specifically, that it will answer or fulfill the intent/purpose users are looking for when they search for that keyword.

hands holding gears

4. Short Head vs Long Tail

The next part of understanding what are keywords in SEO is to understand the difference in short head vs long tail keywords. Keywords are either short head keywords or long tail keywords with a keyword rarely being both short head and long tail. 

Short Head keywords are: 

  • more broad, 
  • highly competitive, and 
  • consist of one or two words, which account for a large amount of user searches.

As such, sites and brands that have high clout and a lot of traffic already usually go for short head keywords since they expect their content to be able to compete with other sites’ content for ranking high in search engines’ ranking system, thus getting more traffic.

Long tail keywords are: 

  • typically longer, 
  • less competitive, 
  • have less traffic, and 
  • much more specific for what users are looking for.

As such, sites and brands that are just starting out or only have a little traffic should go for long tail keywords. They won’t have to compete with many other sites for users, and their content will get a little bit of traffic to their site through their content.

5. Single vs. Multiple Words

person technical writing in notebook and holding coffee cup

The final part of understanding what are keywords in SEO is to understand that they can be multiple lengths. Keywords can be a single word or a couple of words or a long string of words making up a phrase or sentence (aka a “key phrase”). This is useful for trying to fulfill multiple keywords in one piece of content. For example, ‘games’, ‘computer games’, ‘computer games for kids’, ‘computer games for free’, and ‘computer games for free download’ can all be fulfilled by one single piece of content.

How to Implement Keywords

Now that you know what are keywords in SEO, you can implement them in your content using these steps:

1. Pick a Niche Topic

When you are writing content, it is a good idea to have a specific topic in mind to write about before you start writing. This is even more important when writing online content. Picking a niche topic will give you an idea what information you should include that users will be looking for; this should lead you to a general list of possible keywords that will lead users to your content.

2. Research Keywords

Once you have a general sense of the keywords that will answer users queries, research those keywords to find their competitiveness level and how many users search for those keywords. Use free or freemium tools like Keyword Tool or Ubersuggest to help see how saturated a keyword is and how many people use those keywords.

3. Pick Keywords that Go Well Together

Keywords can be a single word or a couple of words or a long string of words making up a phrase or sentence (aka a “key phrase”). So, pick keywords of differing lengths and words that all basically mean the same thing or similar things to reach as many users that are looking for your content as possible.

4. Place into Pages and Posts

In Your Title, URL, a Heading, and Atl Text of an Image

“Most title tags on Google’s first page contain keywords that are an exact or partial match of that search” according to Backlinko.org. As such, use your main keyword in your title and your title tag in your snippet that search engines use to show your content in their search results. Place your keyword in your URL for your piece of content as best you can (keeping your URL between 35-65 characters is best). 

Alternative text for an image is used by search engines and people who are blind to tell what a picture is off or the context of the picture. Make sure that the alt text you put your keyword in makes sense for the picture you put in it so that people who rely on alt text are not irritated (ensuring access for diversity; it’s important and moral). Keep your keyword alt text image in mind for your information architecture.

Keyword density 

Make sure that you use your keyword(s) enough for the search engine bots to find and verify that this is the topic that your content is about while not adding your keyword(s) too much so that users get annoyed and irritated.

Make sure they make sense where they are placed

Just generally read through your sentences, headings, and title to make sure that they make sense and are grammatically correct at a 7th-8th grade English level. Users are unimpressed by bad grammar and generally distrust content that has it. There is a reason that grammar and spelling mistakes are considered common signs of scammers; if they can’t get that right, why should you believe them on anything else?

red pen editing a page

Use Rank Math or another ranking software

If this sounds like a lot to keep track of, don’t panic. There is software available that checks for keyword density and proper keyword usage for you that are free or freemium to use. My favorite is Rank Math, but I know other people use Yoast for this. Just make sure to only use one keyword SEO software at a time; like virus scanners, they tend to fight each other if multiple are enabled, making everything worse.

Summary

What are keywords in SEO? Keywords are the connection between what people are looking for and the content that contains the information that people are looking for. Search engines and websites use primary keywords and secondary keywords to target specific search queries in order to rank higher in search results. Keywords are either short head keywords or long tail keywords with a keyword rarely being both short head and long tail.

There are five parts to understanding what are keywords in seo:

  • General Purpose
  • Primary and Secondary
  • Semantic Keywords
  • Short Head vs Long tail
  • Single vs. Multiple Words

The four ways implement keywords are:

  • Pick a niche topic
  • Research Keywords
  • Pick keywords that go well together
  • Place into Pages and Posts

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