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Fluffy red pomeranian with glasses stares at iPad while possibly searching for SEO keywords.
Feb 05 2021

Using SEO Keywords without Sounding Like a Phony

If I were to tell you that you should use SEO keywords in your website copy, you might have a few questions:

  1. Who are you and how did you get into my house?
  2. How do I find good keywords without having to spend a bunch of money on online tools I won’t actually use that much?
  3. How do I incorporate words that the search engine robots will like without actually sounding like a robot myself?

The truth is, SEO keywords give your website a better chance of getting traffic. And you can, in fact, use them without sounding like the flying saucer dropped you off on earth and told you to “act natural.” All it takes is a little bit of thought and a little bit of research after—and I can’t stress this enough—getting into your ideal customer’s head a little bit.

Pick Keywords and Phrases that People Will Actually Search

You’ve probably heard us say this before, but nobody knows your subject the way you do! That’s both an encouraging line and a word of warning. On the one hand, you’re an expert, and you know what product you are selling or what services you are offering inside and out. On the other, yes you’re an expert, and you think of your product or service in the language of an expert…which means that you run the risk of discussing your product in a language your customer doesn’t understand at all.

Think about it. A person who just wants to fix their back pain is probably not going to do a web search for “integrative medicine.” They’ll probably just look for something like “help for back pain.”

Once you’ve got a word or phrase that you’re confident a customer might search, use it to generate a list of other words. There are plenty of tools online to do that. Some of them are expensive, but some of them are free. For example—you can use the Google search bar as a free tool by typing in your keywords and seeing what it suggests. 

Example of using the Google search bar for SEO keywords research based on "help with back pain"


Sure, it might seem tricky, but if you don’t want to spend money on Google Adwords or another subscription, this is another great way to use the power of algorithms to your advantage. Once you’ve got a collection of about 10 keywords, you can get started using them on your web pages.

Don’t Overdo It

Back in the early 2010s, you might remember seeing SEO keywords and phrases used in ways like this. 

“Do you need linen tunics in Portland, Oregon? We are here with all your linen tunic needs right on the beautiful Portland waterfront. Get ready for summer with a breathable linen tunic!”

Gosh, any idea what the key phrase is in that piece of poetry?

Do not do this. Nobody likes it, and Google won’t reward you for it anymore. Here’s why.

In a past blog I talked about how your SEO content should be usable, relevant, high-quality, and fresh. Repeating the same word over and over again isn’t going to make people want to read what you have to say. When people don’t engage with your website content, your bounce rates (the speed at which someone closes out of your site) get higher, and your rankings will actually go down.

You should try to use the keywords in more than one place on your page. The best places include:

  • Your title
  • Your H1 (i.e., biggest and first header on the page)
  • At least once in your copy, as close to the beginning as possible
  • In the filename for the featured photo on the page
  • In the alt-text for that photo

But if it sounds super weird when used in a particular place? Just don’t use it there. And if it sounds weird EVERYWHERE, you should probably find a different keyword.

Try Different Keywords If You Need To

Once you get started using Keywords, don’t be afraid to experiment. One of the best things about the internet is that you can always edit your work! Keep track of your metrics and see what seems to be working and what isn’t. Notice a phrase that you’ve used to optimize your page isn’t getting any traction? Go back to that list of ten words you researched earlier and try one of those instead.

SEO keywords are just words that have to do with the product or service you’re offering. If you pick the right ones, you’re on your way to better search engine rankings, more eyes on your website, and ultimately more sales.

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