As with other questions related to search engine optimization (SEO), the bottom-line answer isn’t very satisfying. The answer is it depends. However, in general, a piece of SEO content should contain at least one keyword or phrase. It should also contain several variations of the original keyword or phrase.
So, that’s all you need to know right? Not so fast! There is more information that can help individual businesses figure out how many keywords they should use in their SEO content. In order to make an informed decision about this, there are several factors you’ll need to consider.
- The hierarchy of keywords used in SEO content.
The hierarchy of SEO keywords includes two main classes of keywords. The first is the main or primary keyword. This class of keyword includes any keyword that you choose to make the main focus of your content. Variations of your main keyword also fall into this class. Main keywords and their variations are used multiple times in the content, most commonly in a piece of content’s title and headers.
The second class of keywords is known as supporting or secondary keywords. These are keywords that are not the main focus of your content, but they are included to offer support to the main keyword. Like main keywords, supporting keywords can also appear several times in a piece of content. However, unlike main keywords, they may also appear only once.
SEO experts will often choose several supporting keywords that can be woven into content, but if you haven’t done so, don’t worry. Tools like SEMRush can help you analyze a specific piece of content and determine which supporting keywords can help boost the content’s ranking.
- How long the piece of content will be.
Let’s start with the standard we’ve already discussed: one keyword or phrase with several variations. This standard tends to work well for pieces of all lengths.
After all, having too many keywords or variations could make a shorter piece of content sound unnatural to a reader’s ear. More importantly, a search engine might think the author is involved in an unethical practice known as keyword stuffing, which can lead to your content being removed from search results entirely.
The flip side is that longer pieces of content will naturally include more supporting keywords and variations of your main keyword. For instance, a 2,000-word piece of content might include the main keyword, two or three supporting keywords, and two or three variations of the main keyword.
- The goal of your content.
Different types of content have different goals, and what your content’s goal is has a bearing on how many keywords it should use. A webpage or blog post that is answering a single question typically only uses one main keyword, a few variations of that keyword, and maybe one or two supporting keywords.
However, something like a website’s services page would be a different story. Such a page might have a main keyword, like “physical therapy services,” but it’s also likely to have supporting keywords for each service service offered. There may also be more variations of the main keyword and supporting keywords than in content focused on just one service or question.
- Whether the keywords are long-tail or short-tail keywords.
Long-tail? Short-tail? Are we talking about horse breeds now? Nope, we’re still talking about SEO keywords. Short-tail keywords are those that are one to three words long. They also tend to be related to broad concepts and have a high search volume. Yet they’re often harder to rank for due to high competition.
Long-tail keywords are often four or more words long, and they tend to be related to a specific niche. Depending on the niche they’re in, long-tail keywords also tend to have a lower search volume than that of many short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords can also be easier to rank for because there are often fewer competitors trying to rank for them.
You have probably typed both types of keywords into a search engine yourself at some point. For instance, you might have searched for a hotel for your vacation with a phrase like, “hotels in outer banks north carolina”. A phrase like this is a long-tail keyword. You have probably done searches for short-tail keywords, too, like “football history”.
In some cases, shorter pieces of content may be created to focus on one specific long-tail keyword. In others, a piece may focus on a short-tail keyword as the main keyword and have sections that use certain long-tail keywords as supporting keywords.
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