Keyword Optimization: What Is It & How to Do It for SEO

Keyword optimization is an important process in SEO for making a web page’s content more relevant to search queries in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. When done right, keyword search optimization generates more organic visibility for the website through higher rankings and traffic.

This guide explains everything you need to know about keyword optimization, including the definition of what it is, the various types, the importance of SEO keyword optimization for growing an online business, and the steps needed for how to do keyword optimization to produce the best results.

What Is Keyword Optimization?

Keyword optimization is the process of researching, analyzing, and selecting the best keywords to target for a website. Good keyword optimization increases the relevance of a web page’s content to a given search query to improve organic visibility in search engines to drive more qualified traffic to the site.

Why Is Keyword Optimization Important?

Keyword optimization is important because it helps you select keywords that will generate more traffic, leads, and sales. Google’s aim is to serve the most relevant content to its users and keyword optimization helps the site rank for queries that attract the right audience for its products and services.

Here are some specific reasons why keyword search optimization is important:

  • Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Website: By optimizing for the right keywords in SEO, you’ll attract more qualified visitors who are a good match for your business.
  • Write More Effective Content: By including optimized keywords on the page and outlining your content based on those keywords, you’ll be able to write better content that meets user search intent.
  • Optimize for User Behavior: By analyzing the keywords your target audience is searching for on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, you can optimize your content around the queries that matter most to your potential customers.
  • Predict Traffic Potential: By conducting SEO keyword search optimization, you can gauge the popularity and search volume for specific topics in your target market. Most keyword optimization tools report the average monthly search volume for every keyword phrase so you can assess the potential traffic value.

As you can see, SEO keyword optimization is an important strategy for search engine marketing to increase organic traffic. And it’s not a process you only do once for a website.

Ongoing keyword search optimization is required to maintain and grow your online search visibility. To keep a competitive edge in your market, you’ll want to continue uncovering new keyword opportunities so you can capture more targeted traffic.

Keyword optimization also allows you to expand your website’s reach into multiple verticals (or categories). That’s why you should continue to perform keyword research, analysis, and optimization so you can expand your visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs), get more site traffic, and attract more qualified leads and sales to your business.

Keyword search optimization types

Types of Keyword Optimization

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization is the practice of optimizing the content on your website for a specific set of keywords. You can do this by including your keywords in certain elements of the page and the HTML code.

The goal of on-page optimization is to increase the keyword prominence (i.e., the relevance of the keywords) so the content will rank higher in search engines like Google for related queries. Google’s ranking algorithm systems use the word on the page, and in the HTML code, to help match the best content to users’ search queries, making keyword search optimization an important part of the on-page SEO process.

Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization refers to the factors outside of your website that impact search engine rankings. You can improve your off-page optimization by getting other websites to link to your content using SEO keywords and mentioning your brand to establish trust and authority in your niche or industry.

The purpose of off-page optimization is to prove to Google’s ranking systems that your brand and site are trustworthy and credible. Off-site signals are a form of trust for the algorithms. Backlinks in the form of keyword optimized anchor text to your web pages count as “votes” which Google’s ranking systems consider when indexing and ranking pages in the SERPS.

Therefore, conducting keyword optimization through link building can help increase the relevance of your target keywords for a particular web page and boost the overall trustworthiness and authority of your website.

SEO keyword optimization examples

SEO Keyword Optimization Examples

  • Putting the target SEO keyword in the page’s meta title tag.
  • Including the keyword in the page’s URL.
  • Optimizing the H1 heading for the main keyword.
  • Using keywords in the H2 subheaders.
  • Creating an internal link from one page on a site to another page using the target keyword in the anchor text.
  • Getting a backlink to a web page from another website with the target keyword in the anchor text.
  • Having a keyword optimized profile on an external site with a link back to your website, such as Google Business Profile or listing in a professional business directory.

Keyword Search Optimization Statistics

  • 36% of SEO experts think the headline/title tag is the most important SEO element. (Source: Databox)
  • 69.7% of search queries contain four words or more. (Source: Ahrefs)
  • Long-tail keyword searches have a click-through rate 3% to 5% higher than generic searches. (Source: Smart Insights)
  • 70% of marketers see SEO as more effective than PPC. (Source: Databox)
  • 32% click-through rate (CTR) goes to the first URL ranked in Google desktop search results. (Source: Advanced Web Ranking)
  • Only 0.78% of Google searchers click on results from the second page. (Source: Backlinko)

How to Do Keyword Optimization

1. Find the Right Keywords for Optimization

The best place to start with SEO keyword optimization is to brainstorm a list of good keywords and phrases associated with your website, products, and services. Then, use a keyword optimization tool like the ones listed in the next section to analyze the popularity and difficulty score for those terms.

The goal is to find keywords that have high search volume but low competition. That way it’s easier for you to rank your content in the top 10 positions on Google’s search results pages. If you need more help with this process, here’s a guide for finding good keyword phrases that are easy to rank with SEO: How to find low competition keywords.

As you’re doing your keyword research, make sure to target each phase of the customer journey. This includes the top of the funnel (awareness), the middle of the funnel (informational), and the bottom of the funnel (transactional) content. See this related guide with examples of keywords to help generate ideas for your target audience.

2. Map Your Keywords to Each Page

After you have a list of relevant keywords to optimize your website for, the next step is to map out which page will include those terms. The purpose of keyword mapping is to set your content up for success by not repeating the same set of keywords on more than one page and causing cannibalization issues.

Digital Marketing Institute explains this idea best:

“Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have too many identical or similar keywords spread throughout the content on your website. As a result, a search engine like Google can’t discern which content to rank higher. This means that sometimes it will give a higher ranking to the web page you don’t mean to prioritize.”

If your website is new and you don’t have many pages or blog posts written yet, then mapping out your keyword optimization will be easier to do. You can cluster similar keyword phrases together and set up a content writing plan that allows you to write one individual page for each cluster of keywords. See this related guide on how to do keyword clustering for more details.

If you have an existing website with many pages or blog posts, then you’ll need to audit your current content and map the right keywords to each page. If you haven’t already written on a particular topic that matches up with a keyword in your list, then you can create new content to optimize for those keywords. Following this strategy in keyword search optimization can help boost your overall site’s topical authority in SEO, which can lead to higher organic search rankings across the domain.

3. Check Your Current On-Page SEO

This step for how to do keyword optimization applies only to the existing content on your website. After performing step 2, you’ll want to audit the current on-page SEO for each page to find out how well it’s optimized for your target keywords.

You may find that the content already has your keywords in some of the right places, so you won’t have to do many new optimizations.

You can find a complete on-page SEO checklist here that shows you every place you can optimize for SEO keywords. Below, is a quick list of areas to check for on-page SEO keyword optimization:

  • Meta Title Tags: Is the main keyword in this HTML field? Can you add any secondary keywords?
  • Meta Descriptions: Have you included the main keyword in this HTML field?
  • Header Tags: Is the main keyword in the H1 tag? Have you put your main and secondary keywords in at least one H2 tag?
  • URL: Does the page URL include you main keyword as an exact match phrase with dashes in between the words and not underscores?
  • Images: Do you have at least one image on the page that is optimized for each keyword in your cluster? Have you optimized the ALT text and image filename for each keyword?
  • Content: Is this content keyword optimized? Did you include the main keyword and as many secondary keywords within the first 100 words on the page and the last 100 words on the page? How about 2-3 times in the middle of the content?
  • Internal Links: Have created at least 5 internal links to the target page while optimizing the anchor text with your target keywords?

4. Do Keyword Optimization

After you’ve checked the on-page SEO for your current pages, the next step is to do the keyword optimization process. This also applies to any new content you’re writing to aquire organic traffic from Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

The on-page SEO locations referenced in step 3 are a good place to start the optimization process. Just start adding the keywords to those spots on your new content and modify any existing content that needs it.

5. Submit the Content to Google Search Console

Once you’ve completed the keyword search optimization on a web page, the next step is to submit that content to Google Search Console for indexing.

This process helps your new web pages get discovered faster by Google so they can get indexed in the SERPs. It also alerts the web crawler to come by to your site and scan your existing content so it can be reassessed for rankings.

6. Track Your Keyword Rankings

The final step in the process of doing keyword optimization is to track your progress. After your content is indexed and ranking in Google for organic keywords, you’ll want to see how those keyword positions change over time.

You can check Google Search Console for this keyword search data for free or use a paid rank tracking tool like Semrush, Ahrefs, or SERPWatcher by Mangools.

  • For new content, you’ll want to track the rankings daily for at least 2 months before making any keyword search optimization adjustments. This gives your content enough time for the Google algorithm to compare your page against the competitors and let the ranking positions settle.
  • For existing content, you can track rankings daily for 14 days before you make any changes to the keyword optimizations. Giving the algorithm two weeks to test your updated content against the other top-ranking pages is typically enough time to know if your keyword search positions will go up or down based on the optimizations you made to the content.

Keyword Optimization Tools

Here’s a list of the best free and paid keyword optimization tools you can use to improve your content:

  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Trends
  • Jaxxy
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • KWFinder
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • SE Ranking
  • SEOCockpit
  • Semrush
  • Serpstat
  • Soovle
  • SpyFu
  • WordStream
  • Wordtracker

If you need tips on how to choose the best keywords for your content while using these types of tools, then check out this other guide on what makes a good keyword. It explains the top factors to consider for choosing good search terms to target during the keyword optimization process.

PPC Keyword Optimization

While this article focused primarily on organic search marketing, the fact is keyword optimization also applies to paid search marketing or pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

If you’re using PPC campaigns to get more customers for your business through a service like Google Adwords, then the following tips can help.

The more keywords you select that your customers are searching for, the more traffic you’ll drive to your website, and the more consumers you’ll convert to customers.

  • Create a Good Keyword List: Choose keywords with the right search intent to bid on. But also make sure these keywords have good traffic potential.
  • Group Similar Keywords: Keyword optimization for PPC campaigns is most effective when you cluster similar keywords together into tight groups that are semantically related.
  • Focus On Keyword Relevancy: To improve your ad click-through rate (CTR), you want to make sure the keywords you’re bidding on are highly relevant to the searcher’s query. The more you focus on this marketing strategy, the higher your ad quality score will be.
  • Include Keywords In Ad Text: A good keyword optimization strategy for increasing CTR for your PPC ads is to integrate your keywords into ad text.
  • Optimize the Landing Page: The landing page for your PPC ad should have the target keywords in the content. And the higher up on the page they appear, the better. Matching the optimized keywords in your ad text to your landing pages improves user experience and ad quality score.

Keyword Optimization Summary

I hope you enjoyed this guide on what is keyword optimization.

As you discovered, keyword search optimization is a powerful strategy for selecting the best terms and phrases to target on a website to increase visibility in Google for higher rankings and traffic. However, SEO keyword optimization doesn’t just apply to organic search traffic. It can also be used for improving paid search marketing through PPC campaigns.

Now that you know how to do keyword optimization effectively for both organic SEO and paid advertisements, you can apply these methods to your own search marketing efforts to increase the number of qualified leads, customers, and sales.