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SEO Article Writing: How Long Should My List of Keywords Be?
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Here’s a question I received recently from a reader:

Steve, for SEO article writing you recommend developing a list of long tail keywords and then rotate writing your articles about these core keywords. How long should this list of keywords be? Should your list be 10, 20, 30 keywords or more?

Thanks for your question. Just to be sure we are clear on this:

The keywords that you will be using in your HTML resource box are the ones that really need to be rotated. I don’t really rotate the long tail words (more on that in a bit…).

The HTML resource box is very powerful because you are hyperlinking the keywords. Hyperlinked text is supposed to send a more powerful message to Google than just text on a page.

This can work for or against you.

You need to be really careful to rotate which keywords you use in your HTML resource box. If you use the same keywords repeatedly in there, it can have negative SEO consequences.

I advise that you develop a list of main keywords, probably 5 to 10, that you would like for your website to rank highly for. These will be competitive terms. That means that there will be a lot of people searching for the terms, but also a lot of websites who are trying to “supply” the demand. These are your main keywords, and you will rotate using them in your HTML resource box as anchor text for the link that goes back to your site.

The keywords to use in your articles: long tail keywords

Then there are the long-tail keyword terms that you are asking about–these are great in forming topics for articles.

These phrases are longer than the main keywords, and they are not as competitive. There are not as many people searching for these terms, but there are also not as many websites competing.

You should have more long tail keyword terms than main keyword terms–perhaps about 25+. Many of these are terms that can form lots of article topics without being repetitive.

For example, someone might have a long-tail keyword term of “how to home school”. From that one long tail keyword term, a wide variety of articles can be created.

Here’s what I do…

I put my list of long tail keyword terms in a spreadsheet.

Next to each phrase, I also note the global monthly search volume. That is just an FYI for me to remind myself how popular the phrase is.

Then, under each term I keep track of the article/post I have written with that keyphrase in mind.

When I look at my spreadsheet, I can tell how often I’ve been writing around each term, and that helps me not to forget about any particular term.

It’s not that you need to write the same number of articles for each term or that you can’t write two or three articles in a row around the same term.

Some key phrases will be easier to include in your articles than others. Some long-tail phrases may be much more specific or much more general, and that will influence the frequency with which you write around that term.

For example, using the ‘home schooling’ long-tail keyword terms as an example, if you were writing on this topic you would probably find it easier to write around the term ‘how to home school’ than ‘home school curriculum’.

So, I do not necessarily rotate the terms by going down the list and writing an article for each long-tail phrase and then starting back at the top again.

Here’s how I choose which keywords to use for a SEO article:

Method 1: This is the method I use most often- I have an idea for the topic of the article, and then I look at my list of long-tail keyword phrases and I see which phrase would fit nicely into a title on that topic. If the phrase will fit in the title, it will most likely also fit naturally into the article itself.

Method 2: Sometimes I just look at the list of long-tail keywords, pick out one that I haven’t been writing on as much (or ever), and then I try to think of an article topic that would fit with that long-tail term.

Right now my list of long-tail terms contains about 27 phrases. I’ve been working off of this list for about 10 months now, and that quantity of phrases seems to be working well.

I hope that answers your question!

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7 Responses to “SEO Article Writing: How Long Should My List of Keywords Be?”

  1. Damien says:

    Good solid information on SEO thanks

  2. Hi Steve,

    This is where I have always had trouble! I have a question relating to my site here. I started off targeting natural alternative medicines and therapies and had no idea what I was doing in terms of keyword search.

    Now, I have changed focus to more natural and herbal remedies, rather than the therapies etc. (Hoping to find buying terms, rather than just information.) My dilemma is there are thousands of remedies for thousands of problems. I have started writing in the last couple of months on articles so diverse I feel like I am not targeting anything in particular.

    Therefore, my question is, if you have a site that has too broad a theme, like mine, what do you suggest? I have almost given up on it at times, because I really don’t know what sort of plan to follow.

    I think I chose a theme that may be out of my league. Anyway, any suggestions and I would most certainly take your advice!


  3. Steve Shaw says:

    @Jennifer@ Natural Remedies: Hi Jennifer,

    My suggestion would be not to target so broad a theme, but look for the golden nuggets that exist within it. If you do keyword research carefully, you’ll find niches within this area where the competition isn’t so great but where there is good traffic potential. Focus on a small number of these until you start getting traffic and start seeing earnings of some kind, depending on how you intend to monetize the niche. As you start doing well on these and mastering the process, you can then add further niches to the mix and just scale it up basically.

    I hope that helps!

  4. Thank you Steve. It has helped, because I wondered if I should do that. Now to find the keywords that have ‘good traffic potential.’ (The hardest part of all…for me anyway.)

    Thanks again.

  5. Steve what keyword tool do you use for keyword research? is the Google adwords tool accurate for organic search or just ppc?

  6. Steve Shaw says:

    @Andrew Broadbent: Hi Andrew,

    I don’t use any specific tool at the moment other than the Google keywords tool ( as I like to work with the raw data, but that’s just a personal thing and there are no doubt many tools available to make it more efficient.

    I did a series of posts to walk you through how to do basic keyword research using Google’s tool that you might find helpful. In that series, I show the info that I pull from Google’s keyword tool and how I use it, so those posts will probably give a better answer to your question.

    Hope that helps!

  7. James says:

    Keyword research tool from google is the best I have ever used. I strongly recommend this for newbies in seo.

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