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How to improve your use of keywords for online writing

Posted by mandyf on September 29, 2012

Using keywords in online writing is for many people a fact of life, however not everyone is sure how to use them correctly, or even what good keywords are. While writing online is not the same for every individual as some are just looking for an outlet to get their wrok read and others are writing to earn money while being read, proper keyword usage is essential to those looking to generate income. While courses an countless keyword analytic tools are available to writers, some free and some not, and there are hundreds of websites offering a huge diversity and help and advice, some good and some bad, hopefully when you finish reading this article you will have some effective simple tools to improve your keyword usage and help raise your income.

Keeping things very simple to start, a keyword is a word used to search for information which relates to a topic. A keyword phrase is a combination of two words used to carry out the same task, and long tail keywords are phrases that consist of three to four words which lead a searcher to a very specific piece of information.

Deciding which is best for you is up to you, however long tail keywords are usually the best. To help demonstrate this, let’s look at the following example. Suppose you are writing an article about your hair salon and want to use good keywords to help increase traffic as much as possible.

Salon, is a keyword which does aptly describe your business, but when you google the word salon, you can expect about 138 million results to return. That is obviously too broad to do you much good.

Your next step is to try a keyword phrase, in this case “hair salon” will be the example we use. When you google that, the results cut down dramatically to about 26.5 million returns. While that is more specific, it is also still quite a mountain to try to climb to be seen amongst the competition.

Finally you will move to trying a long tail keyword. It’s been established you have a hair salon, but what else is there about it that can help narrow the field? Let’s say your hair salon targets women, adding that to create “women’s hair salon” would cut the search results to about 1.15 million returns. Still you can do better.

Adding in a fourth word is when you really narrow the field down and give yourself the best opportunity to be found without creating too long of a phrase that becomes annoyingly repetitive to the reader. Let’s suppose your salon is located in Muncie, Indiana. Rather than add Indiana to the phrase, try Muncie which is far more specific. The resultant return is about 37,500. If you really want to get very niche, and for a moment let’s say your salon is targeted at African American women, add “black” to the phrase to help keep it as compact as possible, creating the phrase “Black women’s hair Muncie”, your search result is about 5,300 returns which means you have hit a specific niche and have a very reasonable chance to quickly climb the search results ladder.

The advantage of a long tail keyword is not only that it is nice, but each individual component of the keyword will still potentially get you returns, just to a much lesser degree due to the overwhelming competition. Now that you have an idea of what keywords are and how they work, how do you know which ones are the best for you to use in your writing?

One possibility is you can subscribe to a service which will tell you what the hottest keywords are, but regardless of the economy, who wants to spend money when you can get something for free? Luckily there are sites that are free and will help you decided what the best long tail  keyword phrases are for you to use in your article. Free Keywords Tracker is a particularly helpful site that fits just this need.

This time let’s suppose you are writing an article about the nutritional value of the food on the Taco Bell menu. The initial phrase you identify to use in your article is “Taco Bell nutrition.” To see how effective that phrase is you go to Free Keyword Tracker, put that in the search bar, and process the return. Your first thought is, “Hey I can do that with Google!”, which you can, but what Google won’t do that this site will is tell you that the particular phrase you chose has 156 searches, and a broader option is “Taco Bell nutrition facts” which hits 865 searches, as and that a longer tail key phrase like “Taco Bell nutrition menu” returns 3 search results.

Why information like that is important is that you will be given several related long tail keyword phrases that are specifically related to your topic. The more of these phrases you can use the better your search results can potentially be. Not only that, you have effective keyword phrases you can use that pack a punch, but don’t make your article read in a droning repetitive manner that looks as though you just crammed it full of keywords. There are plenty of sites offering similar services for free, this is simply one that has been found to be very user friendly, and as important, free.

The second thing you want to look at when you have your article written and your keywords in place is keyword density. This is exactly what it sounds like in that keyword density tools provide you with a specific percentage that reflects in what proportion your keywords or keyword phrases appear in your article. While there are paysites available that will allow you to put in a dozen or so keywords at a time for a density analysis, Live Keyword Analysis is free and does the same job with the only difference being it limits you to checking three keyword phrases at a time.

While writing SEO friendly copy is hardly mandatory and not attractive to everyone, for people that want to earn money with their writing strong SEO skills is the name of the game and the difference between having an article that may earn you .50 each month and a few to several dollars each month if you pay particular attention to it.

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