What a question! As Google’s search engine has evolved to understand and rank your content better, bloggers and niche site owners need to evolve their keyword strategy for each post. As complicated as it all sounds, it’s not. After thoroughly testing this for the last two years, I have discovered that the sweet spot is three keywords.
How Many Keywords Should I Use For SEO Per Blog Post?
You should focus on three keywords for SEO in one blog post. Focusing on more than three keywords is difficult and can frustrate the writer trying to fit in and optimize all the keywords. Also, depending on how close the keyword variations are, including more than three keywords can sound very repetitive and robotic.
If you’re the writer for your blog, researching, writing, optimizing, finding images and videos for your post can all add up. I found myself slowing down with producing content when I added more than three keywords. Keep reading the article further to see when I optimize it for more keywords.
Sticking to three keywords has personally paid off for my own blog posts and I have a simple formula in how I optimize the articles for three keywords which will be shared in this article.
The Evolution of Shifting From Exact Keywords To Search Intent
Years ago, Google’s search engine wasn’t as smart as it is today. 8-15 years ago, you could create content around a keyword (singular form of the keyword), create another post around the plural form of that keyword, and create other posts for the endless slight variations on that keyword. And you know what? Your blog would do extremely with that strategy. You could take multiple spots on the first page of Google with all these different pages targeting these “different” keywords.
But since Google’s algorithm has evolved, this no longer works; in fact, it can lead your blog posts to cannibalize with each other if you aren’t careful with how you are picking your keywords for your articles.
Let’s consider these three keywords:
- how to write a blog post
- how to write a good blog post
- how to write a great blog post
Would I write a separate blog post for each? No! The reason to why or why not lays in what’s known as search intent. Search intent is determining the intent behind the search query.
Let’s analyze the intent of the user when they typed these keyphrases into Google’s search engine:
- how to write a blog post – Maybe this person is new to blogging and wants a barebones tutorial on how to write and publish a blog post; however, they are probably wanting to learn how to write a solid blog post as they didn’t ask how to publish it.
- how to write a good blog post – This person definitely wants to learn how to write a good blog post; what does a good blog post entail? They would want to read how to do research on a topic, create an outline, write a draft, edit the draft, and finalize the article.
- how to write a great blog post – This person wants to write an excellent post and probably has the same intent as the person above.
Given that I can recognize that the intent is very similar or the same here, I would target and optimize all three keywords in the same article for the best SEO results. If I created three separate articles for each one of these keywords that have the same or similar search results, I would create keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when Google can’t determine which page or post to rank for a given keyword, so it keeps switching between two or more of your articles and you’ll see erratic rankings which switch every few hours or days.
Now that we have learned to cluster very similar keywords together which have the same search intent, let’s talk about how to choose a primary keyword. A primary keyword is your main keyword for the article that you are writing and you will be optimizing the article for it first; the secondary and tertiary keywords will be optimized afterwards.
How To Pick The Primary Keyword
So which keyword should be your primary one? Pick the keyword that is most commonly used, meaning it has the highest number of search volume. If that article ends up ranking well, it has the highest potential of traffic to bring to your blog.
Once you’ve picked your primary keyword, you can use it to optimize the meta title, H1, the post URL of the article as well as optimizing the rest of the article for it.
The secondary and tertiary keywords (or keyword variants) can be sprinkled in regular text or one of the heading titles (H2-H4) where they fit in naturally within the article (without sounding too repetitive).
Should I Pick More Than Three Keywords For One Article?
In the last year and a half, my personal testing has shown me that focusing on more than three keywords can either dilute the effects of what you are trying to achieve or the writer can feel overloaded with trying to fit in more variations in the article. If your main goal is to rank well in the search engines to bring in traffic to your blog, then stick to three keywords at most. You’ll rank for more than those three keywords at the discretion of the search engines.
How Many Times Should I Use the Primary Keyword?
I’m a big fan of using the main, exact keyword as the writer sees fit in the content as long as they are not practicing keyword stuffing (an act of stuffing the keyword in an article to game the search engines which doesn’t work anymore and can actually hurt your blog). However, make sure to let them know to sprinkle in the other variations at least once and preferably the headers (H2-H4) unless it feels too repetitive; then simply add it the variations in regular text where it makes sense.
Will My Article Rank For Only Three Keywords?
No! And that’s the beauty of the evolution of search engines. Once your article starts ranking, you’ll see it rank for more than those three keywords; it’ll rank for other variations you hadn’t thought of, for keyword variations that have similar or the exact same search intent.
How cool is that? You don’t need to think of every keyword variation. As long as Google deems your article to be well-written and one that its users are happy with, the article will rank for a multitude of long-tail and short-taily keywords.
Can I Optimize For More Than Three Keywords?
Yes, of course you can, but wait a few weeks. I wait 2-3 months until the blog post has been crawled, indexed, and then starts ranking in Google. At that point, log into Google Search Console and see what top keywords that blog post is ranking for. You can then make a list of 2-3 more keywords that Google is showing you it wants to reward your page for and optimize it further.
I wouldn’t optimize it for any keywords past an initial 5-8 of them. Whatever keywords are on pages 2-3 for that blog post, if it’s not a close variation of the primary keyword, you can add it to your keyword list to create a new article for.
Conclusion For How Many Keywords To Use For SEO
To answer your questions of how many keywords should you pick for SEO for your blog post, pick a total of three keywords and choose the one with the highest number of monthly searches to be the primary keyword. The primary keyword will be used in the meta title, H1, URL of the page and within the content as you see fit. The other two keywords can be sprinkled in wherever it makes sense within the article.