How to Use Keywords in Content: Hear it from John Mueller of Google

2 min read
John Mueller Keyword Usage

It is something we have either known or speculated for the longest time, and have held multiple theories about it. Sometimes most of us have been guilty of Keyword-overstuffing, and other times not using it enough to warrant a search engine reaction. Or so we think. The question still looms large over our head, until now. And the answer just hits different because it comes straight from none other than the man himself. John Mueller, Google, answers burning question on how many times to use a keyword on a page to gain better rankings.

How to Use Keywords in Content

Is targeting Keywords on H1, Meta Tags, and On-page still Relevant?

In a Google SEO Office-hours Hangout special dated 4th June 2021, John was asked if targeting keywords in H1, Meta Tags, and On-page content was still relevant and a legitimate tactic or was it an unfashionable practice because of just how far the semantic search practices and methodologies and algorithms have come. Or if we should shift our focus from using a particular keyword ‘N’ number of times in a page to focusing on better things that would yield better search results.

Yes, answers John!

John reaffirmed the value of using keywords (the right way) was still hot and advised on associating the right words to the topic. Here is what John had to say. “In general the number of times that you use a keyword on a page, I don’t think that really matters or makes sense. When you’re writing naturally, usually that resolves itself automatically.”

But he also cautions not to obsess about using Keywords.

John added, “And also with regards to the individual keywords, I think that’s something where I wouldn’t disregard it completely but at the same time I wouldn’t over focus on exact keywords. So in particular, things like singular and plural or kind of like the different ways of writing individual words. That’s something that you probably don’t need to worry about. But mentioning what your site is about and kind of like what you want to be found for, that’s something I would still do.”

So in particular, what we sometimes see when we look at things like news articles, if a news site doesn’t really understand SEO, they might write in a way that is more… almost like literature in that you read it and you kind of understand what it means, but the exact words that are used on a page don’t really map to exactly that topic. So that’s something where, from an SEO point of view, if there’s something you want to rank for, I would still mention that on a page.”

“I wouldn’t go overboard with the number of mentions. I wouldn’t go overboard with all of the synonyms and different ways of writing it. But like mentioning it at least once definitely makes sense.”

To Keyword or Not to Keyword

To Keyword, definitely to Keyword. But just as John said in the beginning, try and write the whole thing naturally rather than trying to fit in the keyword that stands out like a sore thumb. That’s no good to anybody. The audience will call out your bluff, and so will Google. Keywords matter, but quality content matters more.

If you have time to spare, do watch John Mueller answer the question at the 2:16 minute mark and may be also stick around for the rest of the discussion for some other valuable insights.