This guide is for content creators who are including keywords in their copy.
Is it okay to change the keywords slightly to make them fit the copy more naturally? For example, by changing the word order or making words plural/singular?
Yes! Accurate and natural-sounding copy is paramount. Google is very clever and can read keywords even if they have had the word order changed or been adjusted to be plural or singular. The same goes for grammatical errors – keep in mind that keywords have been scraped from search engines - meaning that they are often not grammatically correct, therefore it is your job to correct any mistakes. Word order, plurality and grammar can all be changed – the actual subject of the keyword is what you cannot change.
E.g. Keyword: ‘black shorts men’. For your copy, you could change this to ‘black shorts for men’, or ‘men’s black shorts’.
Read this short article on grammatical correctness in SEO for more information: Grammatically correct content
If a keyword includes a word from the ‘banned’ list for a client, or it doesn’t fit in with the tone of voice at all, should I include it in the copy anyway?
No! Tone of voice takes priority over keywords. The tone of voice and banned words detailed in the brief aren’t always available when our researchers are conducting keyword research, so sometimes unsuitable phrases slip in. Wherever possible, replace any unsuitable words with a good synonym that fits the brief.
eg “Cheap” is a banned word
You are writing a category about outlet products, which are heavily discounted. The keyword supplied is ‘cheap women’s leggings’. ‘Cheap’ is a banned word, so you know that you can’t use it. Using your judgement, select the best synonym for cheap – eg ‘discounted’ – and include it in place of ‘cheap’. J+ Scribe won’t match this keyword, but CMs and PMs are aware this might sometimes happen.
Is it best to try and put the keywords into the copy as many times as possible, in order to make the content as SEO-optimised as possible?
No. Google penalises content for being too obviously ‘keyword-optimised’ - well-written, natural and idiomatic content is more important. Follow the instructions in the content brief on keyword inclusion, but as a general rule, content that is stuffed full of the same keyword will not rank highly on Google.
All the keywords have ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ included in them. By using them as is, it’s making the copy sound quite unnatural – can I drop some of the gender-specifications?
Yes. You have to include enough gender-specific keywords in the copy so that it is clear which gender category the products relate to and also ensure that the core keyword (the one that is most relevant to the URL) has the gender. But if you have done that, then it is fine to drop the men/women for the remaining keywords.
There is a keyword that seems completely irrelevant to the URL - what shall I do?
Flag this to the Content Quality Lead, providing the keyword and the URL - they can advise whether or not to use the keyword.
A keyword has been included that is a different language/dialect e.g. there is a keyword that is clearly Canadian French and not actually used in France - do I still incorporate this into the copy?
No, flag this with the EL, providing the keyword and the URL - most likely you should go ahead and substitute this keyword for a more idiomatic alternative. Exceptions to this include if there are keywords with ‘anglicised’ terms in non-english markets - those have been included because people are searching with the English word, and we would like to capture that traffic. Of course, this is only applicable if the tone of voice allows it, and it fits naturally into the copy.
There are too many keywords to include in the allocated word count - how do I prioritise the keywords?
It does happen sometimes that clients supply us with a huge variety of keywords for each single piece of content. The key thing to keep in mind here is that these keywords are supplied as a ‘pot’ which you can choose from, rather than with the understanding that you should use all of them. Often there can even be several different topics of keywords within the pot. Best practice approach to prioritise:
Choose keywords that tie together thematically - don’t try to include all the different topics if they don’t really tie together naturally.
Within your chosen theme, don’t pick keywords that are very similar to each other/reiterations of the same few words in different orders - instead, select keywords that provide variety & synonyms.
If you are unsure on how to choose between a few different keywords, conduct a quick Google search with them and see what is currently ranking on the first page - this is a very good indicator as to if the keywords will be useful for your content piece.