Determining the optimum number of keywords to promote with SEO isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. In practice, the focus should be on a chunk of primary keywords—often around 5 to 10—that are highly relevant to your core offerings, complemented by a broader set of secondary keywords that can vary in the dozens or hundreds, depending on your content strategy and website size. But let’s delve deeper to understand why and how you should select and work with these keywords.

Understanding Keyword Optimization

Keyword optimization is crucial in laying the groundwork for successful SEO. It involves a strategic approach to choosing and implementing keywords that your target audience is searching for on search engines. Initially, it might seem like a good idea to cast a wide net and target hundreds of keywords, but this can dilute your efforts and focus. Instead, a more defined and strategic approach is recommended.

The Primary Keyword Set

A primary keyword set is a group of your main target keywords. These are the bread and butter of your SEO strategy. When selecting these words, you should consider your brand, services, products, and the core topics you want to be known for. This focused list should be closely associated with your offering and consist of terms that are highly competitive and have a significant search volume.

Finding Your Core Keywords

Finding your core keywords should be a thoughtful process. Use keyword research tools to analyze search volume, competition, and relevance. You also want to think about intent. What are the underlying reasons someone would search for this keyword, and does it align with the content or service you can provide?

Assessing Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty gives you an indication of how hard it would be to rank for a keyword. High difficulty means a lot of competition, and it may take longer to see results. When you’re starting or have a limited budget, it’s crucial to strike a balance between high-search volume and a manageable difficulty level.

The Role of Secondary Keywords

Secondary keywords are supportive keywords that allow you to cover a broader range of search queries and capture more traffic. They are generally less competitive and might be longer-tail phrases that are more specific. Secondary keywords also provide opportunities to target various facets of your main topics, helping you to fill out your content and cater to a more diverse audience.

Expanding Topic Clusters

Topic clusters use a single “pillar” page that acts as the main hub of content for an overarching topic and multiple content pages that relate to that same topic. Secondary keywords can be used to develop these supportive content pages, creating a thorough informational ecosystem on your website.

Incorporating Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase or when using voice search. They are excellent for capturing traffic that has a clear intent and they also tend to be less competitive than shorter keywords.

Content and Keyword Integration

Your keywords should be integrated naturally into high-quality, valuable content. Whether it’s blog posts, product pages, or category pages, the text should resonate with the reader and provide answers to their queries. Overstuffing content with keywords is a dated practice that can harm your rankings and turn away visitors.

Understanding User Intent

User intent is paramount in shaping how you use keywords within content. The goal is to fulfill the user’s needs and guide them towards a solution. By aligning your content with the intent behind the keywords, you increase the chances of engagement and conversion.

Keyword Variations and Synonyms

It’s also recommended to use keyword variations and synonyms to cater to a wider array of search queries and prevent keyword stuffing. This makes your content seem more natural and improves readability, while still maintaining SEO relevance.

Tracking and Analysis

SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. To understand the effectiveness of your keyword strategy, constant tracking, and analysis must be carried out. Use analytics tools to track your rankings, measure traffic, and gather insights on user behavior. This data will inform your decisions on whether to keep targeting specific keywords or shift your focus.

Adjusting Your Keyword Strategy

SEO is dynamic. Competitor strategies, search engine algorithm updates, and changing consumer behavior can all affect the efficacy of your keywords. Regularly revisit your keyword list. Refresh it based on performance data and emerging trends within your industry and adapt your content accordingly to keep up with the changes.

A/B Testing with Keywords

A/B testing can help determine which keywords and content types perform better. By comparing different versions of your pages, you can glean insights into the preferences of your audience and refine your keyword strategy for greater impact.

Finishing Thoughts

The number of keywords you should aim to promote with SEO is not just about quantity. It’s about the strategic selection of a mix of primary and secondary keywords that align with your business goals and audience needs. Balancing a core set of competitive keywords with a wider array of longer-tail, less competitive phrases is the key to building a robust SEO foundation. Regular evaluation and adaptation of your strategy will keep your SEO efforts aligned with the ultimate goal of connecting with your target audience and achieving your business objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many keywords should I target for SEO?

The number of keywords you should target for SEO can vary greatly depending on the size and scope of your website, as well as your goals. If you are just starting out, it’s best to focus on a handful of well-researched, highly relevant keywords, typically ranging from 5 to 10. This will allow you to concentrate your efforts and resources on ranking for these terms. As your website grows and you become more familiar with SEO strategies, you can gradually expand the number of keywords you’re targeting.

Should I use different keywords on different pages?

Yes, it’s highly recommended to target different keywords on different pages. Each page on your website should be optimized for a unique set of keywords that reflect the specific content and intent of that page. This strategy ensures that you are able to rank for a diverse range of search queries and helps avoid keyword cannibalization, where multiple pages compete against each other for the same keywords.

Can I target multiple keywords on a single page?

While you can target multiple keywords on a single page, it’s important to ensure that the keywords are closely related and the content naturally caters to those terms. A primary keyword, supported by a few secondary keywords that complement the main topic, can be effective. Always prioritize a seamless user experience and valuable content over forcing too many keywords onto a page.

How do I choose the right keywords for SEO?

To choose the right keywords, start by conducting keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz. Look for keywords that are relevant to your business and have a reasonable search volume but are not overly competitive, especially if you’re just beginning with SEO. Understand your target audience’s search intent and consider long-tail keywords, which are more specific and often easier to rank for. Analyze your competition to see what keywords they are targeting, and identify gaps and opportunities for your own strategy.

What are long-tail keywords, and should I target them?

Long-tail keywords are phrases that contain three or more words. They are more specific than generic, broad terms and usually have lower search volumes. However, they tend to have higher conversion rates as they cater to more precisely defined user queries. Targeting long-tail keywords can be a good strategy, especially for new websites or those in competitive niches, because they often have less competition, making it easier to rank well.

Is there a risk in targeting too many keywords?

Yes, targeting too many keywords can dilute your SEO efforts and make it difficult to create coherent and focused content. When you try to optimize for too many keywords, you might end up with content that doesn’t satisfy user intent for any of those terms, leading to poor user engagement and search engine rankings. It’s better to target fewer keywords with high-quality, targeted content that provides value to your audience.

How do keyword trends influence my keyword selection?

Keyword trends can have a significant influence on your keyword selection. Using tools like Google Trends can help you identify which keywords are gaining popularity and capitalize on emerging search patterns. However, it’s also crucial to focus on evergreen keywords that consistently attract traffic over time. Balancing trend-driven and evergreen keywords can help stabilize your SEO performance across changing search behaviors.

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Joe Fares

Founder of UltraSEOSolutions and a Digital Marketing Consultant, a great advocate of educating beginners on the competency of SEO, and helping small businesses dominate their niche. Joe is known for public speaking on SEO and online entrepreneurship, and has been awarded by Payoneer in 2017/2018, for being the most successful entrepreneur in the MENA region.