On Tuesday I attended Jason Falls' talk in Nashville on Content Marketing Strategy. After his talk he took a few questions.
One of those questions was
about Keyword Strategy:
"How often should we incorporate our keyword list into our blog for the search engines? I don't want it be unreadable for our human visitors..."
It was a great question, and this is an issue a lot of bloggers and content marketers struggle with: "Should I write for the search engines, or write for human readers?"
The answer is both, and it's easier than it might seem. After you read this post you'll have a whole new understanding of keyword strategy & content marketing...
Where Keyword Phrases Come From...
The key to understanding how to use keyword phrases in your content, and in creating a proper Keyword Strategy, is knowing where those keyword phrases come from in the first place. It isn't just random data, or marketing metrics. It's not a piece to the marketing puzzle that is meant to make writing difficult...
Keyword Phrases come from people. Humans, not bots. Your keyword lists come from specific people: your target market.
Real people type real queries into the major search engines every single day. That data is then compiled and served to us when we do keyword research.
That being the case, there isn't really a question of whether to write for the search engines or write for your readers. You're always writing for your readers - or for your target market. Yes, even when you are using a "keyword strategy".
Keyword Phrase = Question
When a real person sits down and types in a keyword phrase, they are basically asking a question. The search engines then serve the most relevant results (hopefully) and that person chooses a link to get an answer to their question.
This is the reason Search Engine Optimization aka SEO is so important. It gives you an opportunity to meet your target market where they are (searching) and enter that conversation with a response...
Content Marketing = Response To Question
When you choose a keyword phrase, write content for that phrase, and then optimize your content to rank well in the major search engines for that phrase... you are responding to your target market. You are entering the conversation they started when they typed that phrase into a search engine.
This is so much better than "interruption advertising" where you hope to catch your market in the right place at the right time, and compel them to stop what they're doing to visit your site. Instead, SEO is like the Yellow Pages- it allows you to be in the exact place your market is looking for you, at the exact time that they need you.
When you look at your Keyword Strategy as a means of entering a conversation, in the right place at the right time, it makes it much easier to incorporate keywords into your content.
NOT optimizing your content for a specific keyword phrase is a disservice to your market. It isn't very nice of you to hide your answers and solutions from them when they need them most... 😉
The Art of Writing with Keyword Phrases
The key to a successful keyword strategy is viewing each phrase as a piece of a longer question, and then responding to that keyword phrase conversationally.
This is referred to as SEO Copywriting, where you combine your keyword strategy with your copywriting skills. To give you an example, here is a recent post on ClickNewz that targets a specific keyword phrase...
Keyword Phrase: "best ecommerce shopping cart"
This is actually two keyword phrases in one. The shorter phrase "ecommerce shopping cart" is more general and has higher search volume. The blog post I wrote to target this phrase can be seen here:
The person (real live human) that searched that phrase is shopping for an ecommerce solution. If they find my blog post in the Google search results, this is what it would look like:
As you can see, the keyword phrase shows up in the title and description and also in the URL (the hyperlink, or in this case: permalink). The person searching that phrase is obviously trying to make a decision about a shopping cart solution. In the description they read there are five things they should consider first.
This serves as a good example of catering to the exact thoughts, and needs, of your target market. Each page of content you create serves your market on the micro level, by responding to their keyword phrase.
To answer the question "How often should we incorporate our keyword list into our blog?", the answer is: every single time you sit down to write!
There will be exceptions of course such as breaking news, updates, trending topics, etc. And this will be the case even more as you grow a strong subscriber base and a responsive readership. But ideally, the majority of your blog posts (or your content, period) should be optimized to serve your target market.
Now that you see keywords as conversation starters, and content marketing as a "response", I hope this helps you come up with a Keyword Strategy that both serves your market and makes your writing tasks easier...
Get a FREE detailed Website Copywriting Tutorial from Karon Thackston, SEO Copywriting Expert.
Karon has another free report you can download titled Demystifying Keyword Research
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I have been studying Karon Thackston's guides and following her model of SEO Copywriting for more than 5 years. I highly recommend you download her generous free reports and learn creative ways to incorporate keywords into your copy (and your titles!) without sounding stuffy or "over optimized".