Using Keyword Variations in On-Page SEO

What happens when you want to target multiple variations of a keyword in your website? And how do you target each one effectively?

Not everyone is using the same keyword in search engines. But naturally, you probably want to maximize your SEO and hit more than 1 keyword per page so you can rank higher for more terms. Makes sense. To do this, we’re going to have tell search engines this using strategies like keywords variations.

Here’s 2 examples to use keyword variations in your pages:

 

1. Targeting Multiple Keyword Variations

While it’s still best practice to target just 1 primary keyword per page, there’s ways to rank a page higher for multiple similar terms. As a precaution, especially if your primary (and secondary) keywords are competitive and your domain authority is low, it’s usually best to give priority to your 1 primary keyword. This means using exact matches of your primary keyword in important areas like your title tag, permalink, and 2-3 times in your content body. This should be part of writing SEO-friendly copy and your keyword research.

Sometimes keywords are so similar to each other that it’s wise to target more than 1 on a single page. Her’es a quick example:

 

Multiple keyword variations and keyphrases

A good title tag to target the similar keywords might be:

Fresh Coffee Beans – Over 50 Gourmet Coffee Beans For Sale

For the not-so similar keywords, you will want to create a new page to target each one. Always put yourself in the searcher’s positions. Ask yourself: if someone searches one of your terms, does the content on a page reflect the information they’re looking for? Then, if another searcher uses one of your other keyword variations, and they land on the same page, will they also find what they’re looking for? If the answer is no, create a new page.

 

 

2. Using Keyword Variations for 1 Phrase

Using variations of your keywords throughout a page is a more organic alternative to keyword stuffing, or using the same term over and over on a page. While websites will be penalized for keyword stuffing, keyword variations are encourage in moderation.

Sure, using an exact keyword match is still encouraged in your title tags, permalinks, and even 2-3 times in your content body. But Google’s looking for a more organic strategy. That’s where variations of a keywords come into play. I actually call this “keyword dissecting” because what you’re really doing is choosing a keyphrase, then using only part of the entire keyphase throughout your page.

Here’s an example:

Using variations of a keyword in on-page SEO

Out of these keyword variations, “Coffee Beans” probably best describes the main topic if a page is about “Fresh Coffee Beans”. Now say you have a few headings in your page. You might want to use “Coffee Beans” in a couple of those headings, and “Fresh Coffee” in another heading. Try to make sure all your headings include your singular keywords. You do not have to use them individually if they’re already used in a “double keyword”.

You will also want to use these keyword variations in other places, like your main content body. This should all be done sparingly and without sounding spammy.

 

3. Using Keyword Variations in Links

It used to be that if you wanted to rank a page higher for “Fresh Coffee Beans” you would create a bunch of links to that page with title of the link (your anchor text) labeled as “Fresh Coffee Beans”.

Well, Google got smarter. If all your links have the same anchor text, Google will know what you’re up to. They’ll know you were the one that built all those links. The result? Yep, a penalty.

A more natural way to do link building is using co-citations, or using keyword variations in your link’s anchor text. Google doesn’t release exact percentages so other SEO consultants might have slightly different opinions. Sure, some links can be an exact match of your keyword (“Fresh Coffee Beans”), but only about 10-15% of links. The others should have keyword variations or even something as natural as “click here” in the anchor text.

Example:

<a href=”https://www.yourwebsite.com/your-targeted-page/” >use keyword variations here</a>

 

I know this can be a tricky subject, so feel free to ask questions in the comments sections below.

Thanks for reading,

Tom Signature

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

Posted in SEO

8 thoughts on “Using Keyword Variations in On-Page SEO

    1. I wouldn’t categorize your posts under /best-things-to-do-in-life/ to make the post’s permalink /best-things-to-do-in-life/bungee-jump/ …instead it should probably just be /bungee-jump/. However if you’re targeting the keyword “bungee jump” this is way too broad/competitive and you need to research a longer-tail (more specific) keyword. See this tutorial.

  1. Very useful information for me about my new web blog. I am new in SEO and I need to say that the information at the and of your comment was very important to me.
    “if a keyword is competitive then it’s really the content quality and back links to the page that will do the trick…”
    I am using Yoast SEO plugin on wordpress platform, there is a place for only one keyword or phrase, not for variations, but I think that focus keyword is for calculations the plugin needs. So making variations of keywords will be target of search engines and plugin, in addition, focus keyword will be target for SEO plugin only. Am I right?
    I have only 1 back link, but it’s time to build back links NOW! So if you have some good information about strategies of building back links please mail me.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Bobby,

      You can target variations of a keyword by making your URL /wordpress-seo-consulting and your SEO title “WordPress SEO Consultant” (the variation). Similar to the page title, meta description, etc. Yoast only detects an exact match of the keyword if that helps.

      Link building strategies… do you use internal links on your website? Are you getting links from social media? Are you creating useful content on your blog? If I really want to rank high for a keyword, I have my link builder do it for me as it’s a whole different side of SEO, but this should also help: https://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies

  2. Glad you found it helpful! To answer question 1, I would just write it to be as natural sounding as you can without worrying about those variations. I would use your main keyword in your page title, title tag, and meta description. I might include “Packers and Movers” once in a subheading, then a couple times in the content body. Keyword variations may help a bit, but if a keyword is competitive then it’s really the content quality and backlinks to the page that will do the trick…

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