Keyword Research in Today’s SEO World

Keyword Stuffing is an Ancient SEO Recipe – Part 1

Keyword stuffing – ancient old school SEOs often attempted to try to trick the system that way. Repetitive usage of the targeted keywords creating déjà vu every sentence! What exactly was the point of that? A spammy scam to entice Google to index your page well for that phrase and then return it high in the SERPs. It was an effort to compel the searcher to click on the search result snippet and go read a webpage, or blog post that was so contrived and loaded with the same reoccurring words that it sounded really stupid. Great strategy, huh? It’s like those fancy-dressed guys & gals who stand out in front of touristy restaurants and try to get you inside the door, but once they succeed in enticing you to enter, you take one look at the décor and the menu you say, “I’m outta here…!”

Screenshot of Google's Keyword Planner Tool, with the phrase 'keyword research' entered as a search idea.

Fast forward to 2014. SEO specialists and copywriters still do keyword research and use it creatively to create the copy for web pages and blog posts, but we should not approach it with the premise of gaming any system. Rather, the goals should be to develop smart, resourceful copy content, and focus it in a very natural way. By this, we don’t mean to ‘optimize’ it and make it appear ‘natural.’ We mean you should write in a way that IS natural! Start out striving to create incredible, well written content to ensure someone will want to read it when they see it. Now…getting them to see it, well, you can call in some help with that.

Using the AdWords Keyword Planner Tool as Your Collaborating Assistant

Keywords can help focus your writing. Content that is all over the place, branching out into numerous tangents, and having multiple dimensions is confusing. Keyword research assists in pin-pointing the topic on the prime intended focus. If done well, the keywords chosen as best for that topic are ones that would easily be incorporated in the writing flow, without feeling like you are inserting words and phrases for SEO purposes. The identified keywords are the epicenter, but the copy should also be rich with syntax and semantic language. Synonyms and related relevant words and phrases should all be in the mix. Clarity and relevance go a long way towards creating engaging content!

Think About the Desired Audience for Your Copy

Look at it like this, if you were a performer – let’s say a singer songwriter – and you had a gig in a 200 seat venue, would you rather have 20 disinterested people in the audience, or 220 passionate fans that have discovered you and come out to see what your do? That’s a no brainer – you want to be the spark for an audience comprised of music lovers who closely connect with what you do.

Screenshot of the phrase 'topic focus' entered into the Keyword Planner Tool.

Let’s focus on how you – the performer – would present yourself to the public. When someone at a get-together asks what kind of music you play, how would you answer? If you can give an overview of yourself and your repertoire with just one phrase – country rock, or delta blues, or jazz fusion – then an audience seeking that kind of music will most likely have a common ground to connect with your performance. If you further expand on that focused overview of your type of music, and elaborate even more on the style, and things related to playing that type of music, then you are expressing comprehensive, interesting and resourceful information on that particular topic within the conversation.

If, however, you sum up your musical focus by saying, “Well I do some pop, and some cover tunes, and also a few songs from the 40’s, a mini Led Zeppelin tribute, and my brother comes up to join me for a segment of sad bluegrass tunes at the end of my set,” that displays that you really don’t have any focus at all. The answer would not be definitive to the person asking the question.

Turning back to you as a content creator, if your web pages and blog posts have no content focus, then Google will feel that it is too difficult to index in its data bank as valid and definitive content for a particular search query. They would rather send someone searching for ‘jazz guitar playing’ to content that is just about that thing – jazz guitar playing.

Keyword Research in 2014

The phrase “SEO copywriting” has a somewhat negative connotation. It’s throwback to a time when webmasters created copy just to trigger positive responses from Google. The internet, like anything that incorporates technology, is a constantly moving and changing entity. As Google’s technology and desire to improve converge, anything and everything that they view and identify as manipulative is frowned upon.
Today, as with all SEO, the overview should be a very logical and simple one. Create awesome copy that people will want to read. Google wants to present this type of content to those using their search engine.
If copywriting is done well, it makes Google know without a doubt what each individual webpage page or blog post is about, and when a potential audience searches for such a topic, if they end up going to your page, they get what they are looking for. The wild card here is the quality of the writing, which I see as having three components:

  • A relevant topic
  • A focus on that topic
  • Content that is resourceful, informative and of a high quality

Sound easy? The first component takes some thought, research and intuition. The second requires a skill at narrowing, not expanding, the focus so that your content resonates with your intended audience, and Google can understand who those people are. The third skill demands creative and engaging writing, which is something that one can work on but it may very well be like being that singer/songwriter – either you got it, or you don’t!

This is the first in a series of blog post exploring the process that DragonSearch uses to write copy for both websites and blog posts, explained as I do during the SEO copywriting workshops we conduct on this subject. In Part 2, we will address choosing the best focus for the particular page you plan to write, and how to do the keyword research, and make the appropriate phrase choices. We will be using Google’s recently revamped Keyword Planner Tool to help us. In the meantime, be mindful of what you are writing, and reading. Is it good content?

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2 comments on “Keyword Research in Today’s SEO World

Jacques Bouchard

I find that many people who are new with keywords have trouble putting them into the context of their audience. In the home improvement space, “flooding basement” is going to need a different spin than “wet basement” or “damp basement”, because there’s a much stronger sense of urgency implied when the basement is actually flooding. Similarly, in the recruiting space, “it staffing” is very different than “It jobs”, as the former includes hiring companies as well as possible jobseekers, and the latter will be almost entirely jobseekers.


    imaralph (@ruaralph2)

    Thanks for your comment Jacques! Yes – I think that people often get enticed when they see a large search volume for a phrase – and they crave to incorporate it into their copy or meta data. Bottom line is that when searchers go to a webpage – they determine very quickly if it contains the what they are actually looking for – and if not – they immediately bounce. So getting disinterested traffic is fruitless. Also, I find a tendency for people to have trouble defining the core essence of a webpage’s focus, and to realize that additional pages should be created to address other related items that may warrant their own unique and specific page.The keyword research is a good overview guideline – but deeper thought and logic have to be incorporated throughout the copywritting process.