On web pages, the words we write that help customers find a website are known as keywords.
Keywords are widely known; we use them within metatags – a snippet of code within a web page that helps search engines index information.
However, the keyword metatag was abused; spammers would add keywords to metatags maliciously, affectively ranking for topics that had nothing to do with the bulk of the page. It made a mess of search results.
So what is a key phrase?
Key phrases are made up of a few keywords and often form a complete sentence.
We make specific search queries these days – especially considering we now search by voice as well as typing.
Rather than use the odd keyword on our websites to attract visitors, we must now target key phrases – sometimes known as long-tail key phrases.
Long-tail key phrases can contain up to ten keywords, although ten is rather long.
Target phrases with lower competition
On a website, the use of short, high competition keywords like ‘biking’ aren’t likely to improve rank on a search engine because there are so many other websites battling for that word.
Longer key phrases give an article more intention. We can target extended, more specific search queries to enable the website to gain traffic.
Guided mountain biking holiday French Alps
Rules for using key phrases
Search engines are wise to the abuse around keywords. Now, it’s a requirement to include the targeted key phrase within the article content. Write the page around the researched phrase. Embed it into the article’s essence.
The article’s intent and metatag must align to show search engines what we’re targeting.
It’s good practice to use the key phrase in the URL (slug), the page title, and within images – as the file name and ALT text.
Using key phrases is a fraction of organic search engine optimisation. Don’t expect to write a few articles and rank well, but it is a great starting point.
Research the key phrase
It’s worth researching terms to check what people search for within your industry.
There’s little point in creating an article if people aren’t interested in the topic. Or for a small business to produce content around a key phrase with too much competition. It’d never rank.
Consider what people would search to find a website like yours. Research it to judge the competition – if there are large, popular websites targeting that phrase, it’d be hard to rank well.
Now write around that term. Incorporate the phrase into the copy, title, links, headers and paragraphs to create a well-optimised article.
Black hat practices
Keyword stuffing is the act of repeating a keyword (or phrase) to trick the search engines into ranking the page well.
It lowers the quality of content on the internet because people produce pages that repeat the phrase rather than deliver great content.
Search engines weed offending websites out by penalising them; they just don’t rank as highly.