In the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll find a focus keyphrase input field for every page on your site. Here, you can enter the keyword or keyphrase you’d like the page to rank for in Google. If you do so, Yoast SEO will run a check on the content of that page to see if search engines will recognize what your page is about. Here, we’ll explain what the purpose of a focus keyphrase is and how to choose it well.
What is a focus keyword?
The focus keyword or keyphrase is the search term that you want a page or post to rank for most. When people search for that phrase, they should find you. If you set a focus keyphrase for a page with Yoast SEO, the plugin evaluates the page’s content and provides feedback on how to improve the content to rank higher for that search term.
Why a focus keyphrase?
Regularly adding quality content to your website or blog is a good SEO strategy. Google sees that your website is active because new information is added and you increase the volume of your content.
But randomly adding content to your site isn’t very useful. You have to craft a keyword strategy, and based on that strategy you should create high-quality content your audience is looking for. When you write those articles, it’s important to optimize them for the keyphrases you’re aiming at. And that’s what Yoast SEO helps you with.
How to choose a focus keyphrase
In our view, there are at least three things you should do to determine which keywords or keyphrases you should optimize your blog posts for:
- Find a focus keyword people search for
- Research the search volume
- Google your keyphrase
Let’s elaborate on these steps a bit:
1. Find a focus keyword people search for
As we mentioned above, your keyword strategy should have given you some idea of what you want to write about. If you don’t have a keyword strategy, you should really create one. You can read our ultimate guide to keyword research or take our keyword research training course if you need help to find your perfect keywords.
Tools that help you find keyphrases
Our Yoast SEO plugin helps you to optimize your post for your chosen focus keyphrase. One of the tools you can use to find – related – keywords is our Yoast Suggest tool. This tool uses the same data as Google Suggest to find the first ten keywords and then expands on that. This is the same as what you’d see when you type the search term into a Google search box. For additional tools, see this post by Marieke about keyword research tools.
The terms you will find in Suggest are terms and combinations of words that are logical and used by actual people to search on the web. This tool can be beneficial in giving you some first ideas about the search behavior of people in the area you want to write about. Use Answer the Public to find which questions people have about a particular topic. This will give you loads of new insights and inspiration for new posts.
Remember that these search suggestions change all the time. The suggestions will often be tuned to what you’ve been searching for before. When we searched for the term “focus keyword” some time ago, this was the suggest output:
Later on, the output showed this:
Suggest changes based on the problems people have, so monitoring it for important keywords makes sense. New results can give you input for your post or other, but related posts.
2. Research the search volume for your keyphrase
Once you have found a long-tail search term you want to rank for, you should put some effort into discovering whether or not there are many searches for that keyword or phrase – the search volume.
We will be the first to admit; Google has made this really hard. The only way to know for sure how often a search term is used is to have an active AdWords account and bid on the search term of your choice. We understand this is a bit too difficult and expensive for most of you (we hardly ever do this ourselves).
Not to worry, using Google Trends should give you at least some idea, in a creative way, about search volume. Google Trends allows you to compare the search volume between two search terms over a certain time. This will give some insight into the volume of the search terms people use, relative to other terms.
Check your posts that already rank
If you already have some (blog) posts that rank well for good terms, you will know how many visitors these posts attract. Using Google Trends to compare the focus keyphrases of older posts (which you can view the statistics for) with the focus keyphrase you have in mind for your new post, could give you some idea about the potential traffic this new keyphrase could bring. Make sure to choose older posts that are most similar to the post you’re planning to write: if you’re planning to choose a long-tail keyword, compare posts with long-tail keywords as well.