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Where to Use Keywords for SEO

Erik Wardell

Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

One of the strongest on-page (also referred to as on-site) signals we can provide search engines and users is the proper use of keywords that are highly relevant to the content on a particular page. 

As a reminder, there are two categories of keywords you want to use in your on-page optimization:

Focus Keyword

This is the keyword you want a page to target and rank well for, above all others.

Since search engines rank individual pages instead of websites as a whole, it’s important to pair each page on your site with its own unique focus keyword. In other words, no two pages should have the same focus keyword.

A page’s focus keyword should first and foremost be highly relevant to the content on that page. People searching that focus keyword should also have their search intent satisfied by the content on that page.

For example, if we pick the focus keyword “fly fishing in Aspen,” the content on our page better be all about fly fishing in Aspen (relevant) and tell visitors everything they might want to know about it (fulfills search intent).

Secondary Keywords

Other, slightly less important, relevant keywords that you want a page to rank for.

While pairing a page with just one focus keyword was a useful approach back in the day, it no longer works terribly well. Instead, we want to compliment our focus keyword with two or three secondary keywords on the same page. These are keywords that are highly relevant to that page and similar to the focus keyword.

To complement our focus keyword above “fly fishing in Aspen,” we might use secondary keywords like “Aspen Colorado fly fishing,” “Colorado’s best fly fishing,” and “fly fishing around Aspen.”

We call the process of selecting one focus keyword and a few secondary keywords to be paired with a page “keyword mapping.” Once you've mapped keywords to a particular page, it's time to integrate them into the content on that page.

Where to Use Keywords for SEO

Now that you have a fresh understanding of the two main types of keywords (focus and secondary) we need to integrate into our on-page SEO, let’s talk about where to integrate keywords on a page.

Your focus keyword should appear at least once on a page’s:

  • Title tag and meta description
  • URL (optional)
  • H1 and H2 headers
  • Paragraph copy
  • Image alt text and file names

Secondary keywords can supplement your focus keyword in all those places where it makes sense. However, we recommend making sure you sprinkle them throughout your:

  • Subheaders
  • Paragraph copy
  • Image alt text and file names

One thing you want to avoid is using the exact same, or very similar, keywords on multiple pages. When you do, your pages might end up competing against each other. This is sometimes referred to as “keyword cannibalization.”

If you find that you have pages competing for the same keywords, it might be worth combining the content on those pages into one. If that’s not an option, you may want to find distinct keywords to pair with each of the pages.

Learn more about how to use keywords for SEO in our comprehensive guide.

Step-by-Step Approach

SEO is a series of small actions that when combined lead to growth. Like all things, it's a process.

At Pathfinder SEO, we share the process we developed over the past 10-years and break SEO into a series of easy-to-follow lessons. You don't have to be an SEO expert to get found on Google. Instead, take a guided approach with Pathfinder SEO. Schedule a demo to learn more.

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Erik Wardell

Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

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