January 8, 2018 Katherine Haas

Why Using a Focus Keyword Only Once Helps with SEO

Your focus keyword is the word or phrase that you want your web content to rank for in search engine results. In other words, it is what you would expect a user to type into a search engine to find your web page or blog article. Because focus keywords point users to your online content, they are one of the key elements of SEO. Some people think they can get by using the same focus keyword over and over again, but this is not the best course of action if you want your focus keywords to be effective. Using a focus keyword only ones helps with SEO—and here’s why.

If you use the same focus keyword for two different articles, you are essentially competing with yourself. Ideally, you would like to have both articles show up in a search for those keywords, but unless your website already has enough credibility to appear in search results for that keyword at all, using it a second time will only hurt you. Put simply, if you are not yet ranking for a focus keyword, do not use it twice. Instead, you should update or improve the original article you wrote.

You could also write a second article on the same topic, but use a slightly different focus keyword. Let’s consider an example. Say your article is about how to improve your financial well-being in the New Year. Your focus keyword for the original article is “financial tips for the New Year.” Instead of writing a second article backed by that same keyword, you could instead use the keyword “financial tips for 2018.” The implication of the two phrases is identical, but the actual content of the phrases is obviously slightly different. This will prevent you from cannibalizing yourself by pitching two of your own articles against each other when competing for ranking positions in search.

So what if you are not ranking at all? Here are a few steps you can take to get your content to show up in search rankings.

  • Choose a focus keyword that you can realistically compete with. For example, if you are writing a blog about financial tips, the keyword “financial tips” is going to be very difficult for you to compete with considering the multitude of credible sources out there that have written about that exact topic. You can be more specific in your keyword choosing, such as selecting “financial tips for seniors” or “financial tips for millennials,” for example. Even then, these may be difficult to compete with, which is why you can use these to identify a cornerstone article.
  • Establish cornerstone articles. If you do want to use the keyword “financial tips,” instead of using this focus keyword multiple times, you can write one good, lengthy, detailed post called a “cornerstone.” Optimize it for the keyword “financial tips,” using an SEO plug-in (we use Yoast), and indicate that the article is a cornerstone article.
  • Write supporting articles. Once you have a cornerstone established, you should now write several articles that link to that cornerstone. For example, articles with keywords “financial advice for retirees,” “money savings tips for singles,” “how to make a financial plan,” etc. Linking these articles to your cornerstone article tells Google that your cornerstone is your most important one, which will help its ranking.
  • Do not use a focus keyword more than once. Again, strength in numbers is not the idea here when it comes to a focus keyword. If you want your keyword to rank, make it more specific, or make it the focus of a cornerstone article that is linked to a number of related supporting articles!

Using a focus keyword only once will ultimately work to your advantage when optimizing your web content for search. At McNutt & Partners, we make it a point to choose strong, but unique focus keywords for every distinct blog article we create and post for our clients. If you need help using focus keywords to enhance your SEO efforts, contact us today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

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