28 Writing With Keywords

Conducting keyword research can help you identify commonly searched-for topics, but it can also help you phrase your writing in a way that makes it more attractive to search engines.

As we begin to explore how to use keyword research to find the right phrases to embed in your writing, let’s look at another example. I’m using a different tool this time called Wordtracker, and I’m going to imagine I’m writing an article about student loans. So, I search Wordtracker “student loans” in Wordtracker and find the following results (Figure 1).

To help you interpret the results, I have outlined two result search terms in yellow (A)–volume and comp (competition). Volume refers to the number of searches for a particular key word or phrase per month over the past year. Competition refers to the amount of organic (i.e., not paid) competition that exists for the keyword. Item B (in blue) is pointing to a specific keyword, and item C shows you that each keyword is connected not only to the competition and volume stats, but also a visual that shows historical trends over time regarding how often the word has been searched for.

Screenshot of Wordtracker tool

Figure 1: Wordtracker Results for “Student Loans” Search

There are many ways you can use these results, depending on your purpose. For instance, if you were a writer and your boss assigned you to write about the general topic of student loans, you might look at the historical trend line for “student loans canceled, see that it’s become increasingly popular in searches and see that it has relatively high volume–and you may decide to focus your article on the discussions around the government canceling a portion of student loan debt that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you already have a specific focus for your article, though, you can use these results to strategically select keywords to implement naturally throughout your article. Many SEO experts keep spreadsheets of popular keywords from their keyword research and they go back to a web page to “optimize” it by making sure a variety of those keywords is deployed.

If I were writing a section of my article on loan servicers, I’d want to be sure to write about Great Lakes, Navient, and FedLoan Servicing, since those are popular searches. To make my writing flow even better, I might choose to vary the language, using the phrase “student debt” in one sentence, “student loan debt” in another, and “federal student loans” in another (assuming these phrases worked accurately in context.

One thing that is fun about SEO research is that it further illuminates your own content research. Perhaps you didn’t even know Navient existed. Since you have discovered that it’s been in over 32,000 searches, this is a hint that you might need to know what Navient is!

Overall, though, keep in mind that quality beats quantity. Web writers may use keywords strategically to ensure their writing gets seen by the right audiences, but as a web writer, you have to strike a careful balance. Avoid spamming readers with keywords when there’s no reason to include them, but use them in a variety of ways whenever you can do so naturally.

As we move on to specific sections of web content, such as learning about meta tags and headings, keep these keyword principles in mind. They will apply to each piece of content we explore.