The Essential Keyword Optimization Cheat Sheet for Better SEO

When you publish a new post or page, you should always use keyword optimization tactics that help search engines understand what the content is about and improve the page’s chances of ranking.

To help you through this process, use this keyword optimization cheat sheet to make sure you never miss a step while optimizing your next post or page.
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Also, get even more use out of this list by going back and doing an audit of your previously published posts to make sure they are fully optimized too.

Step 1: Do Keyword Research

You can’t optimize a web page before you have assigned it a target keyword, so the process of keyword optimization actually starts with keyword research. You must first find the best keywords to use as the primary and secondary terms for each page.

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Find the Best Primary Keyword

To identify a strong primary keyword for your page, use this three-step process.

1) Choose a primary keyword that is relevant to your site. Put together an SEO keywords list of the best terms to use on your site. Enter a topic or term related to your brand or industry into Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool. Use the relevance filter to find terms closely related to the main phrase.

keyword optimization research

2) Make sure the primary keyword is popular with users. Once you have a list of relevant terms, look for keywords that are commonly searched for. These terms have a high popularity score.

popular keyword research

3) Make sure the primary keyword is within your site’s competitive power. Finally, select low-competition keywords that your site can rank for. These keywords have a competition score that is within your site’s range. Alexa’s Marketing Stack suite of tools assigns a competitive power score to your site and indicates on the keyword difficulty report if you can compete for a specific term. The terms within your competitive range are highlighted in the competition column.

low competition keyword optimization

Using this process, choose a primary keyword that will attract audiences and give your website a chance to rank. Assign that term to one page of content on your site and use it as the primary keyword when you go through the keyword optimization process.

Pro Tip: Use the Competitor Keyword Matrix to find popular keywords your audience loves, and your competitors are already getting traffic for. Take a tour »

Find Four to Five Relevant Secondary Keywords

Once you assign a primary keyword to a page, perform the second round of keyword research. Look for terms you can use as secondary SEO keywords.

Secondary keywords are terms closely related to the primary keyword. Related terms are helpful for keyword optimization because they add context to a page and send extra signals to search engines to help them understand and rank the page.
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So for each page on your site, find related keywords and choose four to five terms that support the primary keyword. The simplest way to find related keywords is to enter the primary keyword into a Google search and choose from the list of related searches.

related keyword optimization

To learn more about how to do effective keyword research, check out this guide: How to Do Keyword Research: A Comprehensive Guide

Step 2: Follow This Keyword Optimization Checklist

Once you know the primary keyword and secondary keywords for your page, create your content and optimize your post. Use this checklist to make sure you use proper keyword optimization techniques throughout the entire page.

  • The primary keyword is in the page title.
  • The primary keyword is near the beginning of the page title.
  • The primary keyword is in at least one subheading.
  • The primary keyword is in the first paragraph of the body copy.
  • Content is between 300 and 10,000 words.
  • The primary keyword density is about 2%.
  • The primary keyword is near the end of the page.
  • Each secondary keyword is used at least one time.
  • Content uses semantic search phrases that reinforce your topic and primary keyword.
  • The primary keyword is in the permalink.
  • The permalink is under 128 characters.
  • The primary keyword is in the meta title.
  • The primary keyword is near the beginning of the meta title.
  • The meta title is unique and not a duplicate of other meta titles on your site.
  • The meta title is 66 characters or less.
  • There is only one meta title tag assigned to the page.
  • The primary keyword is in the SEO meta description.
  • The primary keyword is near the beginning of the meta description.
  • The meta description is 320 characters or less.
  • A least one image is on the page.
  • The primary keyword is in an image alt tag on the page.
  • The primary keyword is in an image file name used on the page.
  • There are internal links to the page from pages on your site that are relevant to your topic and primary keyword.
  • Internal links lead from the page to other pages on your site using the linked page’s target keyword.
  • There are outbound links on the page.
  • Outbound links lead to related content on high-quality sites.

Use this checklist to make sure you cover all your keyword optimization bases. Click To Tweet

Step 3: Check Your Work

The best way to ensure you didn’t miss any of the steps in this keyword optimization cheat sheet is by using a keyword optimization tool to check your work.

Once you publish your post, enter the page URL and primary target keyword into Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker. The tool will check your page against all of the best practices outlined in this post and return a report on the status of each point.

keyword optimization report

Along with a report on the status of your on-page SEO, the tool will also provide a list of suggestions and directions for improving SEO elements you may have missed.

check keywords on-page SEO

Performing keyword research and optimizing each page on your website increases your chances of ranking higher, driving more traffic to your website, and attracting more leads and customers.

Each time you publish new content on your site, use this keyword optimization cheat sheet to ensure every page is optimized for both search engines and readers.
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  And go back and double-check your work once it’s live. Never miss an optimization opportunity by using Alexa’s tools to check on-page SEO for your newly and previously published pages.

To make it easier to go through this process, get access to Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool, On-Page SEO Checker, Keyword Difficulty Tool, and other competitive, keyword, and market research tools. Sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan.

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