A recent Whiteboard Friday video from industry guru Rand Fishkin at Moz got me thinking more about using related keywords when optimizing the content on your website. I think it’s easy for people to think of SEO as just “pick a keyword you want to rank for and include that keyword in the Title Tag, the Meta Description, the Headings, and the Alt Tags on the page”. But as we know, Google is way more sophisticated than that, so if that’s all you are doing to optimize your website, you’ll only get so far. And while it’s true that there are many other factors that go into ranking a page in Google for a keyword, such as attracting high-quality external links to your awesome content, on-page SEO is still a piece of the puzzle, and using related topics and semantically connected keywords in your content needs to be a part of that.
So what do I mean by this? As Rand explains nicely in his video, we’re not talking about just other related keywords that perhaps contain our targeted keyword. For example, if I’m targeting “wedding venues”, I might already know that people search for “best wedding venues”, “cheap wedding venues”, “Boston wedding venues”, and similar keywords. But what we’re talking about here is something different.
What we mean by “related keywords” is other words and phrases that Google often sees on pages that are targeting or contain that keyword. So in the case of “wedding venues”, that might be things like “reception”, “ceremony”, “packages”, “rustic”, “outdoor”, “indoor”, “planner”, “unique”, “estate”, “bride”, “photo”, etc. You want to try to find those keywords that are used often on other pages that contain your keywords and, most especially, those keywords that appear on many of the pages that are ranking well in Google for that keyword.
You can do this manually, by searching for your keyword, then going through the content on the pages in the search results to find other words that appear on that page. Make a list of these words in Excel, and then as you go through the other search results, make a note whenever one of those words shows up again, as you continue to add additional words that you find. After going through, say, the top 10 pages that are ranking for your keywords, you’ll have a pretty good list of related words, and you’ll know which ones appear most often.
This can be a bit tedious, but it’s free. There are some tools available to help, and Rand mentions a number of them in his video and blog post. Another tool I like a lot is LSIGraph, which is a free tool. It does generate some of those keywords that are more obvious and contain your targeted keyword in them, but you’ll usually find a number of related keywords that are a bit more outside-the-box as well. That can help to start your list of related keywords, and then by looking at the pages in Google that are ranking, you can start to add to and refine your list until you’ve arrived at a handful of the best keywords that often appear in content ranking for your keyword.
What do you do with the related keywords once you’ve found them? Well, try using them naturally in the language on your page (I mean “naturally” here as opposed to artificially inserting the keywords where they don’t really make sense, or where they produce hard-to-read, un-natural sounding sentences). Sprinkle them throughout your text from top to bottom. Depending on the keyword, you might consider using them in a heading and then writing a whole paragraph about that aspect of your topic — for example, on your page about “wedding venues” you might have a “Packages” paragraph, a “Photo Opportunities” paragraph, and paragraphs about the “outdoor” and “indoor” “ceremony” locations. I think you get the idea. This is a part of competitive analysis — looking at what your competitors are doing (in this case, the sites that are ranking in Google for your keyword), and then using that analysis to help you write and optimize your page.
Give it a try, and let us know if you find that your search engine rankings increase after you optimize your content with related keywords.