How to Choose and Use a Focus Keyword

Jan 14, 2016 | How To, SEO for WordPress, WP Plugins

SEO (search engine optimization) is an important part of content creation. SEO means optimizing your content to draw traffic from the search engines. Choosing a focus keyword increases the chances of your content appearing in search engine results when people type in a related search query.

I use (and recommend you do, too) the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. This plugin helps you use your focus keyword to optimize your content by providing content analysis (in easy to understand language) on what to do to improve your optimization.

What is a Focus Keyword?

Simply stated, a focus keyword is a keyword that represents the topic of your content. It can be a single word or a multi-word phrase (and hint: you’ll do better with a multi-word phrase.) In other words, it’s the 1- to 4-word answer to the question, “What is your content about?”

How to Choose a Focus Keyword

Most SEO professionals will tell you to research the relevant topics for which you want to create content and create a list of focus keywords to then use when creating your content. There are keyword research tools you can use to find good keywords. You can enter your topic and receive keywords that are related to your topic. Some tools will tell you how many searches your keywords get. Some will also suggest other keywords to use. Other programs are more detailed but cost money.

That’s all fine and good, but what if it still feels a bit over your head? Or what if you’ve already written your content? Should you just skip choosing a focus keyword?


Just answer the question, “What is your content about?” Boil your answer down to 1-4 words. Now you have a focus keyword or keyword phrase.

How to Use Your Focus Keyword in Your Content

There is no exact guideline on how much to use your chosen keywords. If possible, you should use the keyword in the title, headings, first paragraph of your content, and in the URL. The idea is to use the keyword as much as possible while still keeping it natural. Don’t ‘stuff’ your content with keywords or it will be hard to read and sound ridiculous. Keyword stuffing can also get your site penalized by the search engines.

Your Focus Keyword is Not the Be-All End-All

Although keywords are important for getting your content seen in search engines, it’s not everything. What’s most important is that your content is original, helpful and high-quality. Keywords are only how you attract traffic from search engines, but don’t affect what that traffic does when it gets to your site.

Because keywords draw search traffic, use them in any content that’s searchable. This includes YouTube video descriptions and social media posts and profiles, as well as blog posts and the pages of your site.

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