Keyword strategy: Keeping it natural
Much has been made of the various challenges Google faces as it seeks to maintain its grip on the internet. But with the vast majority of web journeys starting with a search and Google dominating the search space in key markets, the boys from Mountain View will remain crucial to online marketers for the foreseeable future.
That said, the thrust of this particular blog post can be applied beyond Google and even beyond search. However people find content, now or in the future, keywords are likely to remain pretty important.
Thankfully, the days of stuffing sites with popular but irrelevant keywords are over. Your search for "Paris Hilton Sex Tape" will no longer return sites peddling sub-prime loans. Nor can websites get away with hiding keywords from human visitors, but showing them to the search engines (a classic black hat trick was to use the same colour for the text and the background).
There are of course many facets to a legitimate and successful keyword strategy, starting with picking the right terms to target. You need keywords with enough traffic, you need terms you can convert and you need to avoid the most intense competition, especially from big, well-funded rivals.
Once you've got all that, you need to use your keywords wisely. Our advice here is to keep things natural. There are certainly benefits to placing keywords strategically and there are areas on page that Google and other search engines pay more attention to than others.
But tactics like repeating your target term over and over or obsessively running a keyword checker on your copy are best avoided. Choose a topic that lends itself to keyword inclusion and make sure you use your keywords, but don't crowbar them into you copy.
The search engines are getting smarter all the time. They're getting much more adept at tying keywords to synonyms and related terms elsewhere on the page to better understand the page's true relevance to someone running a search.
Remember that you also want people to link to your content. Using the keywords in the right places will help them find you, but relevant, decent copy will encourage them to give you a link – and it will also reduce your bounce rate.