The Importance of Keywords in SEO: A Beginner’s Guide

importance keywords in SEO
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Use the proper keyword and you will get more search engine traffic…

Optimize your website/blog keywords and you will rank faster…

How many times have you gotten such pieces of advice when you were learning about SEO?

Probably a lot.

That’s because keywords are the first things you should learn about when you optimize your blog for SEO.

I write this guide for a beginner like you to understand the most fundamental concept of SEO – keywords.

Read: Keyword research for SEO – The Beginners Guide

Let’s start with the basics…

If you have been blogging for a while, you probably know that 95% of your traffic is coming from 5% of your posts. You are probably getting a maximum amount of search engine traffic from a few hand-picked posts.

Have you ever questioned why these posts are getting so much traffic? Well, the answer is you must have done something right.

Right?

The reason is, some of your posts got ranked on the first page of a search engine for keywords that are highly searched for by users.

So here’s the crucial question to think about:

Who is the one ranking your content?

It’s a machine (algorithm) which looks for certain signals in order to rank the content appropriately.

When I say “ranking” of the content, what do I mean? In this context, ranking is the order that pages appear in a search engine’s results page (SERP).

You can go to the SEMrush site and type in your website’s address to see which keyword(s) you are ranking for.

Here is an example from one of my popular blogs:

Keyword position in Google
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Let’s try to understand what’s happening in this image. (Even if you don’t understand 100%, don’t worry as this is normal for a beginner.)

  1. Keyword: This is the specific phrase which is driving traffic to a specific URL. When doing SEO, this is the phrase that we “target”, so we often call it the “target keyword”.
  2. Pos.: This is the ranking of the keyword in Google Search (i.e. position). For instance, if it’s number 1, it’s the first result that Google shows. If it’s number 4, it’s the fourth. And so on… Your target should be to rank on the first page of Google for your target keyword (Pos. 1-10).
  3. Volume: This tells you roughly how many people are searching for that particular keyword in a given month. This is a very important thing because even if you think a search term will be popular, Google’s data will tell you otherwise. In the above example, you can see two similar keywords which have a considerable difference in monthly search volume:
    • Free professional email address: 110 searches/month
    • Free professional email: 70 searches/month

While we’re defining things, let’s look at two more important terms:

  1. Short Tail Keywords: Short keywords that are 1-3 words.
    • Make money online, Professional email, Lose weight
  2. Long Tail Keywords: More specific keywords that are usually three words or longer.

Note: All words and phrases qualify as “keywords” when they have a considerable amount of searches (volume) in a month.

Long-tail keywords are more profitable, as you will drive more targeted traffic and your chances of ranking on the first page are higher. For more on this, check out this post.

For now, try to understand all the terms mentioned so far.

What is the importance of keywords from an SEO perspective?

Now that you understand the basic concept of keywords, let’s dive into it a little deeper.

When we “SEO-optimize” a blog post or a web page, we have the option to define our target keywords. This kind of keyword is known as a Meta_keyword.

In 2012, it was important to specify meta keywords, but in 2017, it’s not of any use. The search engine algorithms have become much smarter; they now auto-detect keywords and rank pages automatically.

Google has already made it clear that they do not consider meta keywords when selecting keywords, and this makes sense because it wouldn’t be good for anyone.

For example, for this post, some meta keywords could be: “keyword tips, SEO, keyword research”, and so on.

Now, anyone looking for “keyword tips” would land on this page, not see anything of use, and leave, thus increasing my bounce rate. It’s not good for me and it’s not good for the user.

So remember that anytime someone tells you meta keywords matter, be sure to ignore them.

How To Start with Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of finding the right keyword for your post. This step is important if you wish to grow your blog/website in a short span of time and ultimately make money. There are various ways by which you can find keywords and do keyword research.

Find Keywords with SEMrush:

This is an online tool that lets you find keywords, sees which keywords your site is ranking for and allows you to spy on your competitors.

A good idea is to pick the top blogs in your niche and add them into SEMrush to see which keywords those sites are ranking for. From here, you just need to start building unique and high-quality content around those keywords.

This is a paid tool, but you can get a 15-day free trial (worth $199) using this link.

For more on how to use SEMrush, check out:

Find Keywords with Google Search:

You can also use Google Search to find target keywords.

Google will auto-suggest a search query when you type anything. You can create a list of keywords using this technique and use SEMrush or Google’s Keyword Planner to check the search volume for all these keywords.

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Other Keyword Tools:

  • Keyword Planner: Official Google tool. Free, but not as powerful as SEMrush.
  • LongTailPro: Great tool to find long-tail keywords in any niche.

Once you have found profitable keywords, your task is to write an SEO-optimized article for your target keywords. You can follow this guide to understand how to target keywords on a particular post.

Keyword Density and Keyword Placement

Keyword density is a complex topic.

This Wiki article will give you a fair idea of how keyword density is calculated. Depending on your target keywords, (long tail or short tail), try to maintain a general percentage of keyword density. When bots crawl your page, they can determine which particular keywords a page should rank for from the keyword density.

Keyword targeting is important but stay away from “keyword stuffing”. This is the overuse of keywords on any page. This will ultimately be harmful to your ranking.

Different SEO ninjas have different ideas about keyword density, but your main keyword should ideally not be more than 2% of the article. I try to keep it between 1-1.5%.

Along with the main keyword, you should also throw in some related terms, known as LSI keywords. You can learn about LSI keywords here, and here is a free LSI keyword finder tool.

Remember, you can target over one keyword on a blog post or a page. But I would suggest you keep it less than three because if your post is high-quality, you will also indirectly rank for related long-tail keywords.

So be careful not to “stuff” keywords.

What does keyword stuffing do?

Overusing keywords alerts Google bots to the fact that you are “spamming” your post by stuffing it with unnecessary keywords. Google will think you are trying to trick the system. Google penalizes for this action.

So be wise when you select the number of keywords you are using for SEO. Particularly since the Google Panda update (2011), any SEO actions that do not appear to be natural are bad for your site.

Meta titles, meta descriptions, and headings:

Now that you have a perfect keyword to target, and you are writing a great post around it, try to also use that keyword as part of the title of the post. By default, this title will also be the title shown in search engines (i.e. the “meta title”).

You can also write a description for users to see when they look at your site in a search engine (i.e. the “meta description”). Adding in a relevant meta description will also give more insight about your page/post to search engine bots. I suggest you use your keyword in the meta description as well.

Note: You can write meta titles and meta descriptions using an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO.

Also, try to write more SEO-friendly articles by using H2 and H3 tags (your title is H1 by default in WordPress). However, don’t overuse heading tags, as keyword stuffed headings and too many heading tags can lead to a negative ranking.

Random SEO tip: Don’t use numbers in your permalink (e.g. yourdomain.com/4-ways-to-rank-higher-in-google) because in the future, if you want to extend the article by adding an additional point (e.g. 5 ways to rank higher in Google), that permalink will no longer be accurate. For more on writing SEO-optimized posts, go here.

What to do now?

Now that you are aware that keywords play an important role in SEO, your first task is to find 5-6 profitable keywords for your next post.

You can use the Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or some other tool. Here is the updated list of the best keyword research tools.

Write out a post based on your target keyword, and use any of these Google keywords rank tracker sites to keep track of your keyword positions.

So that’s it. Keep refining, learning, and trying!

When you rank on the first page, let me know about it in the comments! Like this post? Don’t forget to share it with your friends!

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importance keywords in SEO
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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

101 thoughts on “The Importance of Keywords in SEO: A Beginner’s Guide”

  1. Joseph Chikeleze

    Hello Harsh,
    Most of the steps here are the best for me. I’ve been using SemRush to check keywords and their competition respectively.

    This will also help me more… I will try the paid version​ of some of the tools listed above.

    Thanks

  2. Hello Harsh,
    I went through your whole article and completely agree with your words that Keywords are core thing in blogging. Without keywords it is waste of time to work on such things.
    Really thanks for your effort.

  3. Thank You Harsh for this article, i searched online about the keyword concept and have not came to any useful information that i can use. But this article of yours kinda helped me, Thanks again

  4. Hi Harsh,
    This article is very nice and you have explained everything about the significance of keyword. I have one question regarding Yoast focus keyword. I have given a focus keyword in my blog post. After few days, the SEMRUSH shows different keyword for the same blog post. My question is whether the Yoast plugin submits any focus keyword to the google search engine or it simply counts the focus keywords density alone? Why the ranking keyword differs from the original keyword? I am expecting your valuable response.

  5. Hello Harsh,

    Keywords play a very vital role in search engine optimization and targeting proper keywords related to your post is also very important . most of the times people fail to target the proper keyword for their articles.
    On the other hand, stuffing your articles with keyword won’t help you in any way and will led your blog to be penalized by google.
    Nice articles for newbie bloggers.

    Keep Updating

    Best Regards
    Aditya

  6. Hi Harsh
    As I have started blogging finally. That’s why currently I am using Google keyword planner and Semrush tool for researching my blog post keyword.
    Thanks Harsh for this guide because I could not know some concept.

  7. sandip hadiya

    Thank’s For sharing this article it was a big help for bloggers like me who can’t get ranked in google. And do you know any smerush alternative for keyword research for free.

  8. Jitender Singh

    Hi Harsh,

    Thanks for sharing the great information. I have a question, whenever I write lenghthy articles targetting long tail keywords the keyword density looks natural till 0.5-0.7%. So this density is good for on page Seo? As increasing it looks completely unnatural.

    Regards
    Jitender

  9. Hey Harsh !

    #Article is Really Very Informative

    I Have One Question In My Mind !

    Q. For a Newbie, Keyword Should Be Low Competition and High Volume Keyword ! Right 😛..?

    But It is Very Difficult To Find Such Keyword !

    What Keyword Difficulty [ KD ] Should we Focus If My Blog is New ?

    Hope to Get An Early Reply

    Thanks For Sharing Such An Awesome Stuff !

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      @Rajan Rai
      Keyword difficulty is subjective to the authority of blog. I would suggest first focus on building authority fast (Follow the methods here). And then focus on high volume keywords in your niche. This way you would rank higher for most of the keywords. Use Ahrefs Keyword explorer. Their KD score seems solid. Focus on targeting KD less than 60-65 range.
      Do let me know how it worked out for you.

  10. mayank johri

    Which tool is best to find the right keywords for my website as keyword planner now shows limited data. Should i go with ahref and semrush to analyze further.

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      @Mayank
      Lately, I like Ahrefs UI. They offer great details which would help you to pick right KW. Since they use clickstream, data is very reliable. They offer 14 days trial which should be good enough for you to evaluate the tool.

      Go to Ahrefs Homepage

  11. Hi Harsh
    Like I have begun blogging eventually. That is why now I’m using Google key word planner and Semrush instrument for exploring my site post keyword.
    Thanks Harsh with this manual because I couldn’t understand some idea.

  12. Abhishek Kumawat

    Thank you so much for such amazing articles. I have been reading Shoutmeloud articles since 3+ years and honestly i have learnt so much from here. Best blog to learn Blogging, SEO and a lot more amazing stuff!! Keep Up Team 🙂

  13. Hello Harsh,

    Interesting Keyword Tips. Keywords are the backbone of all the Digital Marketing Activities including SEO, Social Media, PPC, etc . I believe regular monitoring of keyword is also as important as finding it. Whenever a site is affected keyword rankings helps in determining it and improving as well.

  14. Vikas Temgire

    Hey Harsh, Your post is awesome I really appreciate it, If you like to add more about Structured data and Rich Tags and how one can use that is SEO.

    Please keep posting,

  15. Wow , This is great article for beginners. I don’t know how to use keywords and also seo but after read your article my website traffic increase more than 15%. This is very useful article for me and also i think for beginners.
    Thanks.

  16. md.nawfel islam

    Wow , This is great article for beginners. I don’t know how to use keywords and also seo but after read your article my website traffic increase more than 15%. This is very useful article for me and also i think for beginners.
    Thanks. its very good article grow up

  17. Great post Harsh! Selecting the right keywords in your posts are vital for traffic as you point out.This is a great guide for any blogger just starting out as you have covered all the basics nicely.Thanks for sharing.

  18. For the first time, I am going to work as a content writer. I came to know how important it is to be careful not to overstuff the keywords. The perfect combination of the keyowrds with the title, metatitle, heading and subheading and in the body of the text can only make your post appear on the first page of the search engine.

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