Keywords are just words—nothing scary or technical about them. So why are so many writers averse to doing keyword research?
There’s a misconception among copywriters that SEO keyword research takes the creativity out of writing. But optimizing your content for search engines doesn’t have to limit its quality any more than a round of copyediting. Just as editing improves your writing’s readability, keyword research improves your writing’s relevance and exposure (and often, its clarity as well). Why wouldn’t you take steps to ensure that your intended audience can find your work?
Keyword research can easily become a natural part of your writing process. In this article, I’ll walk you through my keyword research process, from the steps that take place before I begin writing a piece of content to the final steps of optimizing that content, keyword-wise, when I publish the piece.
It’s important to get in the habit of doing keyword research before you start to write an article. A lot of copywriters just write what they want to write, and then try to impose a keyword phrase on the article after the fact. This sets you up for one of two pitfalls:
Admittedly, sometimes you have a great idea for a blog post and you just have to write it and worry about SEO later. But it’s an excellent idea to have a running list of keywords that you plan to target with content. What does this buy you?
The best way to prioritize your copywriting tasks is to arrange your keywords in order of importance—that is, according to which keywords are driving traffic, are relevant to your audience, and don’t yet have site content associated with them. Start with the keywords that are driving the most traffic first and work your way down the list. (Don’t have any keywords yet? Easy! Use a keyword tool like WordStream’s below.)
Once I’ve chosen a keyword to target, I open up a Word document and make a list of the keywords in that keyword group, in order of frequency. (NOTE: We group our keyword research into small clusters of tightly related terms, which has obvious benefits for PPC, but it’s also very helpful for SEO copywriting. We’ve written about keyword grouping extensively on this site; you can learn more in our keyword grouping white paper.)
Let’s say I choose the keyword “make money online.” My list might look something like this:
make money online, making money online, online make money, how to make money online, make money online with affiliate program, ways to make money online, how to make money in online marketing, earn money online, make money online with pay per click
This task provides me with a list of popular keywords as well as less popular but related variants that I can (and should) include in my article or blog post. This accomplishes two good things at once:
You’ve done the bulk of your keyword research; the next step is to write your damn article. Include the keywords from your list, but don’t obsess about keyword density or you’ll probably overdo it. WordStream’s Keyword Density Checker tool can help you keep track of where you’ve inserted your keywords. Just remember to use those keywords in healthy moderation. Since you’re writing an article specifically designed to target this group of keywords, they should fit into the text organically (no pun intended).
Where do the keywords go?
Assuming you’re in charge of actually publishing your article online (via your content management system or blogging software), there are a few more ways you can use your keyword research to optimize your article. (If you don’t handle the posting, you can pass these tips on to whatever underling does.) Include your keyword or a variation in these additional places:
That’s it! By which I mean, this is about the extent of what you, as a copywriter, can do in terms of on-page, keyword-focused SEO.
Well, not quite—there’s a bit more you can do, post-publishing, by tracking your SEO results through analytics:
If you incorporate good keyword research practices into your writing process—instead of viewing SEO as a separate process to be applied after the fact—both your writing and your rankings will benefit. WordStream’s SEO tool pack can help you generate keywords and insert them easily into your copy for instant SEO success!