When you’re building a website, one of the things you have to keep in mind is how you’re going to use your keywords to draw in traffic. We often focus on primary keywords, but it’s equally important to talk about secondary keywords and how they work.
Used correctly, secondary keywords can help your traffic grow by leaps and bounds, assisting you in overtaking your competitors and boosting your SEO.
Secondary keywords improve the perceived value of your site to a search engine, improving the likelihood of it ranking higher in the search results.
If you already know which primary keywords you want to use, you might not see the value in secondary keywords. We’re here to explain why you need secondary keywords, how to find the right secondary keywords, how to use them appropriately, and why they’re necessary for your SEO ranking.
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What are secondary keywords?
To understand secondary keywords, you first have to look at what primary keywords are. Initially, when you do keyword research, you probably come up with several main words that describe your website. For example, if you are selling a dress, the dress might be your primary keyword.
Secondary keywords go with primary keywords. They complement each other.
For example, if the dress is your primary keyword, then your secondary keywords might be sundress, maxi dress, or midi dress.
Essentially, secondary keywords are closely related terms. Secondary keywords are designed to address nuances and subtopics that your preferred audience may be wanting to know about or could be searching for when using a search engine.
By using secondary keywords in your content, you show Google that you aren’t just using a single keyword to draw attention but that you also understand the topic and what users are searching for. As your article or website satisfies your audience and draws traffic, it will get a better ranking.
What are long-tail secondary keywords?
Long-tail secondary keywords are still a variation of the primary keyword(s) you’ve selected. These keywords are longer, seeming more like a short phrases. For instance, if you sell soup, you might use a long-tail keyword like, “buy pea soup online.”
Long-tail secondary keywords are normally three words or longer. Most don’t go over five or six words, but they can under the right circumstances.
Generally speaking, you want to have a good mix of short and long-tail secondary keywords, because some will get more search traffic than others.
Interestingly, long-tail secondary keywords tend to have a higher conversion value, since they’re more specific. That’s what makes them important.
Why are secondary keywords beneficial for SEO campaigns?
In SEO campaigns, you need a primary keyword and secondary keywords to help your page rank and the right customers find it. Secondary keywords help customers find your website based on the search terms they input into Google or another search engine.
Good secondary keywords:
- Are semantic variations of your primary target keyword
- Express the same idea in new or different ways
- Overlap with your main keyword and the defined topic of your website, product, or page
When you mix one- or two-word short-tail keywords with three-to-five-word long-tail keywords, you increase the likelihood of capturing a more specific audience.
While your primary keyword might catch everyone looking for that specific search phrase, these capture the people who input the phrasing a little differently.
An excellent example of the tiers of keywords could break down like this:
- Primary keyword: Dog food
- Secondary keywords (short): pet food, puppy food, dog treats, puppy treats
- Long-tail keywords: Buy puppy food online, best-wet dog food, dog food for Yorkies
As you move down the tier, you can get more and more specific. Doing this helps you capture a much wider range of people in your audience.
Google’s algorithms keep changing
The interesting thing about Google is that its algorithms change. If you used primary keywords alone in the past, that might have been enough to boost your SEO and get you on the front page.
Today, that is not the case. Google looks at a variety of factors to determine where a page should rank. Google might have fallen for someone overloading a page with the primary keyword dozens of times in the past, but that’s not how the search engine works today.
Now, Google is more focused on you providing the best end-user content. Using variations of your primary keywords shows that you’re not just keyword stuffing a blog or website. Instead, you’re creating content with variety.
What does this all mean for you?
Simply write good, meaningful content with the right keywords at the right search volume, and you can help your site rank where you want it to.
How do you find secondary keywords?
Once you understand the importance of secondary keywords, you know that you need them. How do you find them, though?
Keyword generators are excellent tools that help you turn your main keyword into additional secondary keywords. For example, the Google Keyword Planner Tool generates keywords you can use based on your primary keyword.
Google makes things easy by allowing you to learn about the monthly search volume and the kind of competition you’ll face when using the keywords, so you can select the right ones.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how you can properly do your keyword research.
Define your product or services
The first step is to define your product or services, so you know what you’re selling to your audience. Think of the keywords that describe what you’re offering best, and do your primary keyword research to figure out which terms are the best for your site.
After doing that, think about related words. Use the Google Keyword Planner Tool or other helpful tools to find out more about search volume.
Think about your competitors
What are your competitors doing that you’re not? Think carefully about this, because if you can find out what your competitor’s keywords are and improve upon them, you could surpass them in the search engine results.
Choose secondary keywords that you discover through SEMRush or other spying tools to outrank your competitors.
Consider your customers’ needs
The next thing you need to consider is what your customers are looking for. If they search for “grill,” will they want barbecue grills? What about indoor grills?
Thinking about the way that people use words and what they might want to find with their search terms is important.
For example, if you have an outdoor store, you might use the keyword “grills” for your outdoor grilling page. Using phrases like “cooking outside,” “grilling on the go,” or other related terms would make sense for people who want to grill while camping.
Think about related terms, and then research them
There are dozens of platforms that allow you to search for related keywords and to find out more about them. The Google Keyword Planner Tool is a great place to start, but other options exist that also help you learn more about the terms and what people are searching for.
Map your keywords
Finally, remember to map keywords to specific pages. You might have three main pages on your website that focus on three different services, such as air conditioning services, heating services, and HVAC repairs.
For each of those pages, it’s important for you to use two or three primary keywords per page. Then, opt for secondary keywords that are tied to those keywords.
Essentially, you want the pages to rank well, but they don’t all have to match. You can vary your keywords appropriately for the different pages you have online.
How to properly use keywords in your content
To use keywords correctly in your content, you need to:
- Find your keyword target
- Determine which keywords are primary vs. secondary
- Understand your content goals
When you outline your page, it’s normal to start with the primary keyword in your first header and first sentence. You might also add it a few more times throughout the page, as long as it comes up naturally.
During the outlining phase, remember that H1 and H2 placement can help you rank for keywords.
Your primary keyword should:
- Be listed in your H1 header as well as one H2 header
- Appear naturally throughout the page
Your secondary keywords should:
- Be located in an H2 header at least once
- Be used naturally throughout the page
Both the primary and secondary keywords should be used in the title of the page whenever possible.
The right keyword usage can make a huge difference in your website’s ranking. Secondary keywords may not be as important as your primary keywords, but if you can leverage them correctly, you can soar past the competition and hit your SEO goals.
Do you want to learn more about how mature your SEO strategy is? At Rock Content, we offer a maturity assessment, so you can see where you need to focus your time and energy.