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SEO basics: what keywords to target on a page?

Written by Rikki Lear

11 | 11 | 19

SEO  |  
5 minute read

Originally Written: Apr 2013
Updated: Nov 2019

At Digital 22, we’ve been utilising and honing our SEO skills in inbound for a good number of years now and I’d like to share what we’ve learned with you.


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One of the most common questions I get is ‘what keywords should I be targeting?’. It’s a good question. Targeting specific keywords is still important when it comes to organic web page visibility. 

Quick tip: in 2019, keywords still need to be featured in the title tag!

Check out our advice on what keywords to target on your website and other SEO best practices:

  1. What’s a good approach to SEO?

  2. What to avoid when doing SEO

  3. How can this affect my site?

  4. What can you do to improve your keyword targeting?

What’s a good approach to SEO?

I’m a big believer in on-page optimisation. Making sure that the page is mobile-friendly, relevant content is used and the all-important keywords are included.

When it comes to SEO basics for inbound, think of your website links as a hierarchy diagram. You need to start with the broadest keywords for your homepage and work your way through the website to the most niche keywords.

Using this approach, you need to utilise every page as you work your way ‘down’ the website. This allows you to target many more keywords and a secondary keyword for each of the original ones.

So what are the overall benefits of this approach?

  • You’re utilising your full website.

  • You can target a secondary keyword.

  • Visitors land on the most relevant page.

  • Your on-page optimisation can be much better.

  • Your website does not look as "spammy."

The SEO basics for inbound aren’t difficult and are definitely worth investing your time in. In our ‘What is Inbound Marketing’ guide, we’ve created a handy SEO checklist that you can apply to your website. If you’re looking for a concise view of the top SEO tips for 2019, check out this talk I did at Digital 22’s LOVE INBOUND event this year.

What to avoid when doing SEO

Here’s a specific example...

Today I was searching for running shoes in preparation for a few charity runs I’m attempting later this year. While searching, I came across a website doing one of my greatest SEO pet peeves. The “all targeting home page title tag”;

Running Shoes | Running Clothing | Running Gear | Running Spikes | New Balance Running | Asics Running | Brooks Running 

When I see a title tag such as this, I think of two things:

  • Great! They've realised the potential of SEO and have done something about it.

Or...

  • They must have done a little bit of reading and think SEO is all about listing the keywords you want to target in the title tag.

These sites tend to have similar meta descriptions and meta keywords. They grab as many as they can to add to a page. This is known as ‘keyword stuffing’ and it’s not a good practice to have. In fact, this one does as outlined below:

Meta description – Running Shoes, Running Shoe, New Balance Running, Asics Running, Brooks Running, Running Gear, Running Trainers, Running Clothing, Saucony Running ...

Meta keywords – Running Shoes | Running Clothing | Running Gear | Running Spikes | New Balance Running | Asics Running | Brooks Running ..., ForRunnersByRunners.com

Some sights have even started to go the other way, barely targeting keywords at all for fear of being branded ‘spammy.' But keywords remain an incredibly useful tool - it’s all about how you use them. 

How can this affect my site?

This approach can affect your site in many ways, for example:

  1. You’re ignoring your inner website pages which means you’re not making the most of your website. 

  2. Your dropout rate for customers will be higher. Customers will have to find the page they want once they have landed on your homepage.

  3. If you’re also optimising the most relevant page, you’ll have internal pages competing for rankings.

  4. By targeting many keywords on one page, it’s likely you’re not doing the full practise of on-page SEO for all of those keywords.

What can you do to improve your keyword targeting?

From the title tag, it would seem the website is attempting to target seven keywords on the home page. For most websites, this is way too many. We recommend a maximum of two per page. This is so you can do those two keyword choices justice and "spread the love" across your website. Carry out some detailed research to decide on which are the most effective keywords you can use. 

With this approach, you’re ignoring your inner pages. For example, I'm sure this website has an internal page dedicated to ‘Asics Running.' A key SEO basics for inbound tip is: utilise that page to target that keyword.

Doing this would be much more relevant from a search engine’s point of view and, therefore, that page’s chance to rank highly is increased. As a bonus, it also helps the user to land on the most relevant page without needing to click through multiple pages to find it.

That’s not to say that a web page can’t rank for seven, 10 or even more keywords than that - but trying to target them all in your meta title is counter-productive. 

What does SEO for inbound look like in practice?

We know how to do SEO for inbound. In fact, Digital 22 started as an SEO agency which is why we take it so seriously, as well as all our other inbound practices.

If you’d like to see a map of how you can increase your website traffic and conversion rates, look no further. We’ve created ‘A Year in Inbound,' a detailed outline of what a year in inbound may look like, answering the key questions you may be asking along the way. 

Click the button below to download this one-of-a-kind guide.

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See what a typical year in inbound looks like

Let me see a typical year