Keywords — The Key to Number 1 Ranking Success

Keywords are an all-encompassing term in SEO, that includes; search terms, search intent, categories, and tags or #hashtags.

scrabble board minimalist sketch to illustrate search keywords for seo blue background - 2500
ChatGPT DALL-E prompt: minimalist sketch, subtle colouring, scrabble board to illustrate search keywords for seo, –ar 16:9, colours #457aff, #003fff, #000000, #ffd189, #ffeaa0, #ffffff, blue background.
(Apologies for nonsense words, AI isn’t great at text in imagery — yet.)

You may hear it in comments like: What keywords are we targeting?

Or, ill-considered tactics, like; “keyword stuffing”.

Here, we’ll learn all about the relevant keyword-related concepts in SEO:

  • Search terms as keywords
  • Keyword research — in relation to SEO and copywriting
  • Keyword synonyms
  • Semantic clustering
  • Search intent — indicated by keywords like; best, cheapest, reviews, vs, versus, reddit, {location}, for …, etc.
  • Keyword density, placement, and metadata
  • Keyword cannibalisation
  • Brand searches

And, anything that relates to making our content meaningful, satisfying, and appropriately findable.

Words are the key to a meeting of the minds — know in the legal profession and contract law as, consensus ad idem, and in SEO for the search intentions of people’s research — our word choices need to match.

This stage of search engine optimisation, is the research stage, often best done before generating content.

Although, a keyword audit can be applied to existing content, that may have lacked this understanding when first composed.

Keywords and search terms

Quite simply, search terms are all single and multi-word searches. In this context, the term “keywords”, has become the nickname for all search terms — short and long.

Competitive keywords relate to anything short, common, and yielding high traffic-volumes, eg: cheap flights, healthy recipes, lawyers jersey.

Long-tail keywords, conversely, are longer, less common, with less traffic individually, and therefore less competitive to rank for.

However, when offering matching content for many longer keywords, the sum of all ranking and traffic can increase significantly, and support rising through the ranks for the more competitive common shorter terms.

Keyword strategy

This is the research part, through various apps on offer that collect and share search keyword data — along with the volumes of traffic each is generating per region, and the pages already ranking for them.

The result of a good keyword strategy will be a collection of terms that are sorted by difficulty to rank for, and the search volume for each.

The expression “Keyword Golden Ratio” comes from the principle of targetting search terms with few results offering useful content — but sufficient search volume to be worth offering the internet a better answer.

As in life, variety is also the spice of search engine optimisation.

There’s no single strategy to rank your entire website, without paying significantly for ads. Instead, it is the ranking of each page that sums up to the overall ranking of the home page.

There’s an element of search engine optimisation strategy that is akin to farming, with keywords as the seeds from which to grow related content.

Keyword-rich content is a valuable asset, that can yield significant repeat long-term monetisable attention. So, it is an investment, and one that you can better control with research and intentional development.

What happens without a strategy?

What most brands tend to do without a strategy, is just publish based on the topic du jour, or as a commentary of news and views.

However, this underestimates the potential for attracting future readership, through search — which often far exceeds those that might coincidentally browse, or take interest in the seconds that a headline and image passes them on their social media timeline.

Evergreen content

A good keyword and content strategy should yield evergreen content and often growing traffic over time.

An increased readership is more satisfying for authors, with awareness of more views, for their hard work not being disposable or limited in the value it offers to share.

For the brand, these assets become a significant contributor to goodwill, brand recognition, brand value, and ultimate business.

Data and Semantic Entities

Data entities are the identification words of who and what you are, and what your publishing is.

Semantic entities are the various ways of saying the same thing.

It can be helpful to visualise this as a knowledge-graph, or mind-map.

The importance of understanding how this relates to search engines, is helpful to then ensure content is understood by search engine crawlers and indexing. The relationships between entities all add up to the final relationship and connection, helping search engines to decide how relevant your pages are, to then rank them in related search results.

This excellent video from SMA Marketing provides an excellent quick explainer:

Keyword clustering

There will be many search terms that are effectively the same, eg: jersey accountants, accountants jersey, accountant in jersey.

This cluster of keywords can be used indifferently in content, with little difference in results from whether some or all are used.

Search engines already understand and match the semantic intent, regardless of the content matching exactly, or including them all.

Keyword synonyms

Synonym clustering, is simply treating similar words as the same for the purposes of writing matching content.

This can be regional, too, eg; holidays and vacations are generally synonyms in British English, but not in Americanised English countries.

Search intent

Our choice of words often betray thoughts and intentions, in search there are many very common indicators, as we all harmonise towards those that yield the types of content we seek:

QualifierSearch Intent
{location}When searching for something in a location, it could indicate initial research on a subject or activities, at the top of the sales funnel, or researching the provider options, so the person is in the middle of the sales funnel.
bestComparing similar offerings for curated editorial to help us make a choice. Also known as the middle of the sales-funnel, and revealing buying intentions.
cheap or cheapestComparing prices, either to gauge affordability mid-sales-funnel, or the best value, AKA bottom of funnel. The person is looking for a price-comparison, often including all costs, to be a fair comparison.
reviewsAgain, mid or bottom of the sales funnel, most-often signalling prime buying-intentions. This is searching for independent opinions, from experience.
alternative(s), vs, versus, compare, or comparisonAlso at the research stage, so mid-funnel. Usually looking to compare features, specifications, or more editorially curated opinions.
forThis is a qualifying or filtering term, to narrow down options for a purpose or purchaser type.
reddit or forumThese terms have been increasing in use, where people are looking for authentic opinions from those a few steps ahead on similar journeys.
“exact match”Searches wrapped in quotes are people looking for exact matches, an AND search boolean, as opposed to an OR search.
+wordA few veterans will have learned this prefix to indicate results MUST include the words with a + immediately before them
domain.comSometimes people use search engines to search a particular site, where they might prefer the results the search engine can find, sort, and present. Perhaps, suggesting the site’s own search is lacking.

There are many more, but these indicate how we can understand people’s search needs from certain common words, and use matching terminology to offer appropriate results.

Keyword density

The prime goal here is to be conscious of keyword inclusion to assist search engines in understanding and matching our content to those seeking, but equally, retain natural readability.

We’ll all have seen keyword-stuffing at some point, sadly because it does rank — when there’s no better presented and interlinked content showing higher ranking signals. Our job is to do, and be, better than that.

Also, known as spamming keywords or keyword spamming, given how unpalatable the content can become. It’s a fine-line to tread, since some articles, such as this, all about one expression, will naturally need to use that term a lot, in explaining it.

Champion a cause

Content creators may be aware of search engine’s analysis of your content for topical authority.

This is something that you shouldn’t have to think too much about, when ensuring your content always has relevance to the higher-level subject that you profess to offer the best content for satisfying searchers.

To create real engagement, build your brand to be memorable and relatable with readers by championing your cause.

This relates to your mission and purpose for the products, services, and education you offer.

When you have a passion for publishing to create genuine value, your keyword strategy becomes a matter of; noting the relevant search terms you know people are using to seek answers, then including those to ensure you cover the topic thoroughly, and search engines recognise that.

How can we help?

A part of our search engine optimisation (seo) strategy service is researching and reporting on the keywords people are searching for, that you should have pages with matching content for. Along with the traffic potential from ranking for each keyword in each region, and who else is ranking for these search terms.

Tell us about your website, and we’ll let you know the potential…

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