Why you shouldn’t use a focus keyword more than once

Your focus keyword is the keyword – or keyphrase – you want your post or page to rank for. If you’re aiming to rank for a particular keyword, there’s a temptation to use it over and over again across many articles, but, that’s not what a focus keyword is for! You should only ever use a focus keyword once. But why? And what do you do if you desperately want to rank for that one particular keyword? Don’t despair: I’ll tell you all about it in this post.

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If you want to optimize your posts for multiple focus keywords, use Yoast SEO Premium! You can add up to five focus keywords so you can optimize your articles for different terms. What’s more, Yoast SEO Premium also lets you define synonyms, to make optimizing even easier!

Don’t compete with your own articles

The main reason why you shouldn’t use your focus keyword more than once is that you don’t want to compete with yourself for a position in Google. If you optimize two different articles for the same focus keyword, you’re telling Google that both are suitable for people searching for that keyword, and you want both of them to appear in a search. While that’s not necessarily impossible to do, you’ll find it very hard.

You need to have a site with quite a lot of authority to rank two articles in the top ten search results. If one of your articles already ranks with that term in the search results, you’ll maybe have enough authority to try and rank with a second one. If you’re not already ranking on a focus keyword, never use it twice! Update and improve your original article and write another post that covers a slight variation of the keyword.

Ranking for your most desired keyword

What do you do if you want to rank for that particular keyword you’ve set your heart on? Imagine you’re starting a webshop selling clothes for dogs. You probably want to rank for ‘dog clothes,’ but as you’re just starting out, that’ll be pretty hard. Optimizing all of your posts for ‘dog clothes’ is not the right strategy. So what should you do? Your keyword research will give you some ideas about which other terms to target.

Your most valuable keyword ‘dog clothes’ is what’s known as a ‘head’ keyword, because it’ll be highly competitive and difficult to rank for. You should write an awesome, long cornerstone article about dog clothes and optimize it for the term ‘dog clothes’ using our Yoast SEO plugin. Then mark this article as cornerstone content in our plugin.

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Your next step towards ranking for your most desired keyword is to make sure your site structure is flawless. You’ll need to write a lot of posts, each covering a different aspect of your ‘head’ keyword. You could write an article and optimize it for focus keywords like ‘clothes for small dogs,’ ‘clothes for big dogs,’ ‘dog clothes for rainy days’ and so on. These focus keywords are called long tail keywords. If you link from these long tail articles to your ‘head term’ article, you’ll be telling Google which of your articles is the most important, and that’ll help with the ranking of your most valuable article. At the same time, you’ll also be attracting traffic for those long tail articles.

Should I use a keyword more than once?

Unless you’re a high authority site and already ranking well for a particular keyword, you should NEVER use a focus keyword more than once. Ranking for a focus keyword is possible if you write an awesome cornerstone article about that particular focus keyword, but don’t forget you’ll need a kickass site structure around it to make sure that article will start ranking!

Read more: The ultimate guide to content SEO »