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How Important Are Keywords in SEO? Keywords Not Keyword

By | First Published: | Last Updated: 18 November, 2023

SEO & website design go hand-in-hand. But just how important are keywords in SEO? Very! Keywords are critical to on-page SEO in 2022 and therefore to ranking well on Google. Read on to find out more.

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are words that help Google to understand the focus of a particular page or blog post that you have written. While keywords can be a single word, they can also be groups of words e.g., keywords in SEO.

How Google Ranks Webpages

When a user types a search query into Google, Google searches through its database for web pages that offer the best match.

It is therefore vital that Google understands the focus of your page and using the right keywords is the way to achieve this.

Keyword Stuffing = Old SEO

The old and now ineffective way was to identify a single keyword, such as website design principles, and then stuff your page with it in all the right places.

You need to avoid keyword stuffing while still helping Google to understand the focus of your page. But how?

The answer is to use your original keyword + related keywords to create a bank of keywords. You then use this bank of keywords throughout your page’s content.

Creating a Bank of Keywords for SEO

A bank of keywords helps Google to understand the content of your page without keyword stuffing. Your bank of keywords should include:

  • A focus keyword
  • Keyword variations
  • LSI terms as keywords

A Focus Keyword

Your focus keyword should be the search query you want to rank for in Google. For example, I am a web designer (as well as an SEO expert) so recently wrote an article 14 Effective Website Design Principles with the aim of ranking well for the search query website design principles.

Website design principles is my focus keyword. I need to use it to improve my ranking, but I don’t want to overuse it (aka keyword stuffing).

Keyword Variations

Keyword variations are different forms of the words in your focus keyword and very closely related synonyms.

For example, web design principles, website and principle.

Keyword variations help you to build up a bank of keywords with the same focus.

Related Keywords

Related keywords are words that are likely to appear given the context of your focus topic. For example, related keywords for the focus keyword website design principles would include colour, audience and brand.

This article has a focus keyword keywords in SEO. Related keywords would include Google, ranking and website.

Related keywords are sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as LSI terms.

How to Use Your Bank of Keywords

You need to make use of your bank of keywords throughout the content of you web page. However, there are some specific things I recommend.

Title & H1 Tags

Tags are code that surrounds the content people see on your web page. For example, this paragraph text that you are reading is surrounded by paragraph tags <p></p>.

You need to include your focus keyword and one keyword variation in your title and H1 tags.

  • Your H1 tags surround your page’s title
  • Your title tags are what Google shows in its search results

First Line of Paragraph Text

Use your focus keyword in the first sentence of your paragraph text.


Use your keyword variations and related keywords within your subheadings (H2-H4 tags).

Other Text

Use your focus keyword very sparingly (if at all) in other places throughout your text.

Use keyword variations and related keywords throughout your other text.


Use your focus keyword in one image name.

Use keyword variations and related keywords in your image names and captions.

DO NOT use keywords in your image alt. text unless it genuinely helps a visually impaired person understand the content.

Keywords for SEO in a Nutshell

are keywords important in seo summary diagram
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Shaun Killian (me) is a small business owner, who is passionate about helping other small businesses succeed. He has been working with website design since 2008. He is also an expert in digital marketing, including SEO, content marketing and email marketing. In a former life, Shaun was a school teacher and principal before a heart transplant and bilateral leg amputation led him in other directions.