SEO: What’s More Important? Keywords or Topics?

SEO is a balancing act. To use search engine optimization to its fullest, your pages need to implement words that will show up easily in a search engine, and those words need to be attached to content that will capture your reader’s attention. But what’s more important on the whole: the keywords you use, or the topics you write about? Let’s break it down.

The Importance of Keywords

Keywords are the specific words and phrases you intersperse throughout your copy so as to work your page into relevant search results. Search engine optimization wouldn’t be a viable marketing tool if the “search engine” part wasn’t a factor, so keywords are vital for making sure your content gets in front of the necessary audience in the first place. Smart usage of keywords in your copy shows you’re tapped in to what your potential customers are looking for, and leading your audience to your content would be much more difficult without it.

The Importance of Topics

If keywords are important for making your audience show up, topics are what you use to convince them to stick around. Whether you’re writing product information, a brief history of your company or a blog post full of trivia about the world of your business, the topic of your page is the content that your readers are going to be directly engaging with. Your topic is what your customer is going to be interested in when they click on the page in question, so it’s vital that it keeps their attention and propels them towards getting their hands on the product or service you’re offering.

Working in Tandem

Ideally, your keywords and your topic of choice will synchronize in such a way that your customers won’t be able to tell them apart from one another. Proper keywords should look natural in the copy of your topic, and your topic should encourage the reader’s attention based on the keywords that brought them to your page in the first place. It’s difficult if not impossible to use one of these elements effectively if the other isn’t up to snuff, and any good SEO strategy will focus on maximizing both to draw customers in.

But say you have to focus on just one. Should you devote your attention to the keywords you use, or the topics you place them in?

  • The case for keywords being more important is that your readers likely wouldn’t be able to find your page in the first place if it weren’t for the proper phrasing. Having great content won’t matter much if no one is around to read it! Keywords are the engines that drive engagement towards your page.
  • The case against keywords being more important is that it can be difficult to determine exactly what words a customer will utilize to search for what they’re looking for. Plus, coming up against unprofessional content if they do find your website won’t exactly encourage them to stick around.
  • The case for topics being more important has to do with the way you present your business and convince customers that you have their interests in mind. Relevant, well-written topics show that you know what your audience is looking for and that you can be trusted to provide it in good standing.
  • The case against topics being more important is that your masterpiece of an FAQ section might wallow in digital obscurity forever if you can’t get it to show up in search results. You can’t optimize search engine results if you don’t appear in them in the first place, after all.

What’s the Verdict?

While you can’t really have one succeed without the other, using keywords to drive customers to your content should take priority. If your copy isn’t up to snuff, you can always alter or edit it later, but it’s more difficult to make an older page show up in a search engine after the algorithm has already decided it isn’t relevant to what your readers are searching for. “If you build it, they will come” is the rule to follow…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build it well!

You’ll never have to compromise between effective keyword optimization and high quality copy when you trust the experts at Seventh Scout. We make it our business to make your business thrive by tapping in to what your customers are looking for, and making sure they can clearly see what you have to offer them. Get in touch with us and ask how we can help you grow today.


Picture of Lynn Yeldell

Lynn Yeldell

Lynn Yeldell is the Owner of Seventh Scout. She is commonly referred to as our quarterback due to her love for advocating for others and leading teams.

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