Have you ever read (or written) a page optimized around a single keyword and ended up with something that both sounded unnatural and didn’t rank well? Unfortunately, the internet is full of keyword-stuffed pages like this.
By creating content around a keyword theme instead of a single keyword, you can avoid keyword stuffing and create pages that are more natural and enjoyable to read and rank for multiple keywords. Keep reading to learn what a keyword theme is and how to develop and use your own.
What Is a Keyword Theme?
A keyword theme is a group of related words or phrases that share a search intent. You can use a keyword theme to build new content or optimize existing pages.
For example, when consumers use Google to find help with a leak, they don’t all use the same search phrase. While many will search for “stop a leak,” others might try “stopping a leak” or “how to stop a leak.” These terms are semantically related and share the same search intent. Optimizing separate pages around these phrases would lead to keyword cannibalization. But by grouping related terms into a keyword theme, you can strengthen the content of your page and make it clear to Google what your page is about.
Different SEOs have different names for this. While I call it a keyword theme, someone else in the SEO community might call this a keyword group or even a keyword concept. Keyword themes are also heavily used in Google Ads, where they make up the basis of Smart campaigns.
Benefits of Using a Keyword Theme
It may seem easier to just stick with one keyword, but the benefits of using a keyword group outweigh any extra effort.
Search engines read and identify the keywords on your pages to determine what those pages are about. When you use a keyword theme that aligns with one idea — a concept — the variety of related phrases more easily communicates to search engine crawlers the general topic of your page.
More Natural Sounding Content
Rather than repeating one keyword throughout a page and trying to make it sound natural, using a keyword theme allows you to incorporate similar words and phrases that your readers may use. This can make your content more enjoyable to read.
Increased Chances To Rank
Keyword groups allow you to target multiple related keywords on one page. By including closely related keywords and long-tail keywords when you optimize a page, you increase your chances of ranking for a variety of keywords rather than just one. Plus, it enriches your overall content — which Google likes.
Laser-Focused Search Intent
Google relies on its understanding of user search intent to generate its SERPs. Since a keyword group is centered around a concept with a particular search intent, it helps you create content that’s better aligned with what users and search engines are looking for.
Each of the keywords in your theme will have an associated search volume. By targeting multiple keywords rather than a single keyword, you cast a wider net and increase the potential traffic your page may generate.
How To Build a Keyword Theme Around a Primary Keyword
Want to optimize a page or create content for a new page? Follow these steps to create a keyword theme and expand your ranking potential.
1. Complete keyword research to identify a primary keyword.
Before creating a theme, you need to find the right primary keyword for your page. Follow the steps outlined in How to Do Keyword Research to pinpoint your primary keywords.
2. Google your primary keyword to find a competitor’s page that ranks well.
Let’s say my primary keyword is “pollinator plants CA.” A search provides me with a list of possible competitors.
3. Use Ahrefs Site Explorer or another paid tool to find related keywords competitors are also ranking for.
Simply paste the URL of the page you found into Site Explorer and select ‘URL.’
Ahrefs will provide info on backlinks, page performance, and organic keywords.
Click on ‘Organic keywords’ to see what other keywords the page is ranking for. You can export this list to filter the data easily.
4. Narrow down your list to reveal your keyword theme.
Depending on your industry, you may find that a primary keyword can have hundreds of associated keywords and phrases. I like to narrow down my keyword groups to ten or fewer keywords. This helps me focus on the most important ones.
To narrow down my list, I first remove duplicates, plurals, keywords that are grammatically incorrect, and any keywords with spelling errors. Sometimes I encounter branded keywords, so I also strike those from my list. From there, I strategically cull the remaining keywords by removing those with a too-high keyword difficulty and those that don’t seem to be semantically related.
Now you have your secondary keywords!
- How To Do Keyword Research: A Step-by-Step Guide to SEO Keywords
- A Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Difficulty (Plus Tips for Success)
- Long-Tail Keywords and Why They Matter
- Keyword Research Tools To Kickstart SEO
- Search Intent: Everything You Need To Know About Search Intent Optimization
- Using High Intent Keywords To Drive Buyers to Your Site
- How To Find Question Keywords that Drive High-Quality Traffic
- How To Find High Converting Keywords (And Create Content That Drives Traffic)
Tips for Optimizing Content Around Your Keyword Theme
Now that you have your keyword theme, you can optimize existing content or create new content. In addition to following the general SEO best practices we lay out in our SEO checklist, you’ll also want to keep track of whether you’re using the keywords in your keyword theme. Include each secondary keyword at least once in your content. Your primary keyword should be used a few more times but in a way that’s natural. If you think you’re overusing it, you probably are. Your secondary keywords can also occasionally be used as internal anchor text.
Your primary keyword should appear in your h1, page title, meta description, and alt text. You can also use your secondary keywords in those locations if appropriate.
For example, for this blog post, “keyword themes” is my primary keyword, and “keyword theme” is one of my secondary keywords. The meta description I’ve created uses both:
Heard you should focus on keyword themes but aren’t sure how to get started? ✓ Learn what a keyword theme is, why they matter, and how to create one.
For more content optimization tips, check out our recommended posts.
Need Help With Keyword Research?
Keyword research isn’t always straightforward — it’s part data, part creativity. To identify the best ranking opportunities, partner with an SEO agency that understands your goals.
At Victorious, we offer keyword research services to help customers increase their search visibility and organic traffic. Schedule a free SEO consultation to learn more about how we can help rank for your most important keywords.