Keyword Strategy: It’s Not Just Numbers!

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:

Choosing the Best Ecommerce Shopping Cart

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

* * * * *

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".


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Carl Coddington says

    I also like to use Google Suggestions. Type in part of your keyphrase in Google and see how Google "finishes" the phrase.

    That will give you a good idea of what people are looking for.

    Great article.

  2. Very interesting article. Smart how you put "How to choose " in front of what the user is searching for. Great job!

    @Carl: this is smart. i never thought about this.

  3. Glad you publihed this post already. 🙂

    Sometimes keyword prases are pretty general and you have to use your imagination to figure out what people are really looking for.

    And I really hate it when I want to write about some topic and can't find a suitable keyword phrase for that topic to be used in the title of the post. I assume it's still a good idea to try to rank your post for some phrase in the body text?

    • With general keyword phrases, look at all of the related keyword phrases your research tool shows with it. This will usually give you a clue what that group is really looking for.

      One example is "watch movies online". If you look at the related (long tail) keyword phrases you'll find they don't just want to watch movies online - they want to watch them free, and full movies not just clips.

      There's also the issue of targeting anything too general - which you should avoid if you can. More specific = higher response rate. 🙂

  4. Stella | Top Business Mistakes says

    Lynn, I love the way you broke this down to ABC, sort of. Having started to use SEO writing more causes me to always think of what my target customer is looking for, and what they will be typing when they search.

    I also want to make efforts to meet them at the point of searching. Gives the real meaning to blogging.

    I seem to understand better now when I see lots of searchers exact key phrases on my traffic analytics, and now write posts to answer those that landed on my blog but I did not directly answer their questions.

    You're so right about one doing self a disservice if not optimizing for a specific key phrase, else who are you 'blogging to':)

  5. Solid advice.

    I cringe when I see bloggers who don't take advantage of putting keywords in the permalink.

    Another point- to get your keywords into the google description, I would be sure to fill out the excerpt just below your text within the WordPress post. But in the newer version of WordPress, this is absent, so I am assuming google looks to your description within the description meta tag that SEO plugins provide.

    Can anyone comment on this?

    • Google will often create their own description by pulling the most relevant text from the page - the text surrounding the keyword phrase in context generally. I do use the optional excerpt in WordPress, but I also try to pay attention to the text I use around my keyword phrase in the body of the post as well.

  6. Kevin McIntosh says

    Nice post, Lynn. Enjoyed meeting you at the event Tuesday.

  7. It was cool to see you mention Karen Thackston. I got some of her copywriting teaching years ago when I was getting started in the copywriting business. She has a nice style of writing, and her keyword advice follows right in line with that.

    It's funny when you think about it...we humans use keywords in real life all the time. You'd think it would come more naturally when we carry that over into the digital world. But so often we get stymied by overthinking how to talk. Go figure.

    By the have that natural style like Karen. I'm sure it works well for you.

    • Thank you - and I agree. I love Karon's style, and her practical teaching. She offers nothing but *actionable* tips. I studied her years ago as well and it completely changed the way I wrote and the way I optimized my pages. She is brilliant!

      Great points too about over-thinking the task of writing online. One thing that has helped me more than any other is to think of it as a "conversation". When I'm feeling stuck, I frame it as if a peer or friend called me on the phone and asked me about the topic - and then write the way I would respond on the phone or in person...

      • Exactly what I was talking about. You always seem that way on the IMTW podcast, too...if I remember correctly. 😉

        It's really cool and convenient, when you think about it, how marketing doesn't have to be so formal like it used to be. The "Mad Men" days don't apply to most online marketing. Now, you can actually be yourself and build something pretty incredible.

        Gotta love that.

  8. This is good reading before beginning to put together a keyword strategy.

  9. Peter Lawlor says

    One tip for a starting point to finding great long-tail keywords is Google Instant. I've been using it a lot lately. Any phrases that auto-populate are potential keywords because other people searched with that phrase. Starting with questions is an excellent way to start Google Instant keyword research.

  10. Which tools are the best for keyword research.

  11. Lynn thanks for another great post. The example for choosing the best ecommerce shopping cart was right on target for me as well. I have finally gotten my cart set up on Big Commerce and have started getting some sales. I know that my key words, titles and meta descriptions are hosed up for the individual product pages and that was a great tutorial for working on that.

    Thanks for all the teaching you do.

  12. It’s really cool and convenient, when you think about it, how marketing doesn’t have to be so formal like it used to be. You’d think it would come more naturally when we carry that over into the digital world.

  13. I know that my key words, titles and meta descriptions are hosed up for the individual product pages and that was a great tutorial for working on that.

    Thanks for all the teaching you do.

  14. Fabulous post! Like everything else you share, always helping others to succeed - thanks Lynn! As an SEO copywriter, I've also found that when writing primarily for the reader, keyword phrases naturally fall into place, along with LSI keywords that help with SEO as well. Thanks so much!

  15. joe underwood says

    Lynn, a question: Is there any threads that will add to the "Keyword" paths that will allow a stronger C2SMB?

    Area Code Shopper

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