What are keywords and phrases?

Keywords and phrases in your article tell your audience and search engines what your article is all about.  Placed well, they help to make your article search engine friendly    Keywords and phrases define what your content is about.  They should appear in your content and images for your post.  There is a trick about making sure relevant words are included sufficiently, but not too much.  Including them should occur naturally if you are focused on the point you want to get across and you want to engage your audience with your chosen topic.

Establishing your keywords and phrases

If you are developing your own website and blog, then your approach to keywords and phrases will be very different than for one article.   You need to make sure your website is focused on your target audience and develop the content to satisfy what they need from you.  If you are writing a number of articles, you want them to reflect what your website is all about.  For this website, we specialise in keywords around our categories and tags.  So Leadership, Human Resources, Personal Growth etc.  Articles tend to be about those subjects and so keywords and phrases naturally fall into those themes.  If you are writing an individual article for guest posting, then, you want to make sure your keywords and phrases tell your audience and search engines what your article is all about.

When you are choosing what to write about, good discipline is to decide what your keyword or phrase is going to be.   So for this particular article, my chosen phrase is “keywords and phrases”.  No surprise there. In my article “How To Accelerate Experiential Learning AT Work“, my chosen keyphrase is “Experiential Learning”.  You can see from the article, I have included the phrase several times in the body of my content, and also in several of the headers and the title.  Readers have no doubt the article is about experiential learning. I also use similar types of phrases too.  Building the right words and phrases in an article can enhance the user experience.   Being very clear about what the content is about also helps search engines pick up the article in response to on-topic searches.

Keyword research

For die-hard SEO experts carrying out keyword research is the holy grail of marketing.  This is not about turning you into a die-hard SEO expert.   However, for the purposes of writing your article, I mention it in so far as it is quite a handy discipline to find out what your competitors are writing about and what keywords are being searched for.  One of the tools I use which gives me an idea about what is trending is Buzzsumo.  It is a paid application but gives some free searches which can be quite useful.

Another way to find out what your readers might be looking for is to google your preferred keyword or phrase.  I googled “experiential learning” and below are the results I received.  So now I  have a good idea of some of the questions readers interested in experiential learning are asking.  It might be good to find a way to incorporate some of the questions and answers you find in your article.

Wha is experiential learning

Long-tail – short tail

When researching keywords you may hear the phrases “long tail” or “short tail” keywords or phrases.   This is all about what someone is searching for and making sure your keyword/phrase is more likely to be found.  With around 1.7 billion websites in the world, your readers have a lot to choose from.   The longer and more relevant your keyphrase is, then the more likely it is your audience will find you.

So for example I write an article about leadership.  So you might think the obvious keyword is “leadership”.  Technically that’s correct, but if someone searches for leadership, Google returns some 2,930,000,000 results!   So say for example I want to expand my keyword to “leadership experts”  Then that returns some  684,000,000 results.  Fewer but obviously still massive.  So what about I expand my keyphrase further to say “leadership experts specialising in government” That keyphrase is showing 11,900,000 results.

Using my earlier article as an example, when I search for “experiential learning”  google returns some 40,300,000 results.   If I then search for “Accelerate experiential learning”  there is a return of some 2,890,000 results.  When I input “Accelerate experiential learning at work” The search returns some 10,600,000 results.  My article is the number one result.  Now that’s not to say there are many searches for that long-tail phrase.  However, it does mean people searching for exactly that may find it.   There is, of course, a balance between being able to be found for an obscure keyphrase and one which everyone is searching for.

While there are no guarantees search engines will deliver your results, the longer and more relevant the keyphrase is to your topic, have more chance readers who are specifically interested in your topic or article finding you.

Keeping it natural

One of the biggest difficulties when inserting keywords and key phrases in your article is keeping it natural.  If you cram too many keywords or your long-tail phrase is repeated throughout, then your article is going to sound stilted and unnatural.  The art is to keep your unique writing style while inserting relevant keywords.   However, if it is a choice between style and keyword, I would always go for style.  The reader’s experience is key.

Recap and Checklist

So there is my layperson’s run-through considering keywords and phrases for your article.   You should consider your keywords and phrases, mainly to make sure your audience knows exactly what your article is all about.    Using keywords and phrases can help keep you focused on your topic of choice.

On our admin dashboard, Yoast provides a really handy keyword and keyphrase checker.  We use this to make sure we’ve chosen a relevant keyword/phrase and are not under or overusing it.


  1. Either before or after writing your article, decide what keyword or key phrase best describes your content.
  2. Do some basic keyword research.  Don’t get too bogged down by this.  If you want to really be an expert at SEO for Keywords and Phrases, then enlist the services of a good Search Engine business  For the purposes of this, you want to a) get some idea about what people are searching for and b) understand how popular your keyword or keyphrase is.  c) get some inspiration to expand your article to include topics or keyphrases your audience might be searching for.
  3. Once you have decided on your keyword or phrase, make sure it is included in a) The article title b) some of your headings c) in the first paragraph of your article and d) appropriately in the body of your article.
  4. Now go to article 7:  where we find out more about optimising your article for search engines!

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I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.