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This is a new series. I will run out of useful topics fairly quickly (it may have happened already), so I will either stop or move onto more frivolous subjects. Only time will tell. 

Writing SEO Content – Part three

Keyword density.

It is a controversial topic. Keyword density matters, but it also doesn’t matter. It matters in the sense that you need to use the keywords in your content, but there is no magic number that will mean your content is “optimised”.

I’ve worked in places where the keyword density target was chiselled in stone and a KPI that would ruin your life. You’d only written the content correctly if you’d reached the magic number. But that’s not what it means to get the right density. 

Natural content is more important than the number of keywords

The right density isn’t a percentage or a recommended number of times you say ‘plumber Richmond’ on your pages.

Your keywords are a guide. Yes, you should use them, but they shouldn’t be used for the sake of it. Write about being a plumber in Richmond. Write about services and expertise. Explain yourself. Don’t just say the words, say why you are the best and the most reliable and the most qualified and the most experienced.

Correct density is when your content reads like it isn’t targeting words. That’s what it means to get it right. If it becomes noticeable that your content is putting in certain words, then it is not natural. 

And it isn’t just a human reader who will notice.

Algorithms, crawlers… all the things that search engines use to decide your position on the SERP, they can also tell if something isn’t natural. A decade ago, it didn’t matter. People stuffed their pages full of words and created keyword rich nonsense that search engines loved. But those days are long gone and search technology is light years ahead of those early days.

Use your headings wisely

In my opinion, and a large part of SEO is trial and error, the keyword placement in your headings is more important than shoehorning terms into your paragraphs. The headings allow you to write something succinct and to the point, blatantly putting your key phrases out for all to see. It works because a heading doesn’t have to have the same flow as the rest of the content. By their very nature, they are there to break things up, making them perfect for loading up with your phrases.

Synonyms and related terms are just as valuable

Just because you are targeting certain words, you shouldn’t neglect to use other words that mean the same things or are related to the same things. As I mentioned in the last blog, long-tail keywords are valuable because they sit surrounded by related terms and concepts. This is hard to contrive when you have a targeted phrase.

Write widely and look for new points of view

If you’re a plumber, there aren’t any other ways to say you’re a plumber. But there are many ways to talk about the other details. Your services, for example. Add details about your range of services. Give examples and scenarios for where your business can help. You don’t just fix blocked toilets. You are there to help at any time of the night. You help people get their homes and businesses back to normal. If someone is having trouble with their plumbing, you’re Superman, the tooth fairy and Santa all in one. People are emotional beings. Listing your services isn’t going to connect with a person, but describing situations that they can relate to and which you can help with, will.

You’re not writing to impress your competitors

The most important thing to remember when writing your content is that jargon is no good. Shorthand for products or services might sound snappy and stylish, but it’s no good for your SEO, it’s no good for explaining concepts to visitors and it doesn’t lead to engaging writing. Write about topics from the ground up. Think of simple, layperson ways to explain services or products. In the same way that a menu at a restaurant will often have a sentence explaining the dish in more detail, you can add valuable words to your website by expanding your descriptions and explanations to encompass people who don’t know anything about your industry. Never assume that a concept is too basic. I bet there is someone Googling “who do I call if the toilet is blocked?” right now. 

The final word on keyword density

There is no correct number. Think of keywords topics. As sentence starters. Use them, then write around them. Write about the lines that connect to them. That’s how you get the right density.

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