What is a Primary Keyword in SEO and Why Are They Important?

filed under:

stack of books on a round glass coffee table with black metal legs

Hi, I'm Stepfanie!

And if you’re looking to learn more about SEO, content marketing, and website design—you’ll want to check out my weekly newsletter!

Thank you for subscribing!

A primary keyword is the main keyword or phrase a website is targeting to rank for in Google Search results. And because the pages of a website rank not websites in their entirety, every single page of your website needs a primary keyword.

(If you forgot or you’re new around here—surprise! Websites don’t rank on Google, the PAGES of a website rank.)

Why Are Primary Keywords Important?

Each page of your website serves a purpose whether it’s to sell or inform, for example. The purpose of your about page is not the same as the purpose of your services page, your contact page, or that new blog post you just published.

Google is pretty darn smart. But Google also needs some context clues to figure out what the pages of your website are about.

So what gives Google those context clues it’s looking for?


(And there are 7 types of keywords you should know about, too.)

Now your initial thought might be to add any and all keywords you can to a page of your site. And I get the logic of that thought process. More keywords = more chances to rank.

But you’re doing yourself more harm than good by cramming in all sorts of keywords to a page of your site just hoping for the best.

This may come as a surprise to you, but…

…each page of your website should only have ONE primary keyword.

That’s right! Each page of your website needs one primary keyword that is essentially the guiding light for that page. It’s the main keyword you want that specific page to rank for and it’s what Google uses for context clues to know what each page is about.

Let’s dive into this in a bit more detail with some real-life examples of a primary keywords…

Primary Keyword Examples

First up, let’s look at some primary keyword examples for a Squarespace designer that specializes in Squarespace templates. So let’s pretend these are a few of the pages on her site…

  • Home: it’s the homepage of her site (kind of obvious, right?!)
  • About: tells her audience who she is, why she does what she does, and what her design studio is about
  • Shop: the home for all of her Squarespace templates
  • Template #1: her most popular template designed for wedding photographers
  • Template #2: her newest template designed for coaches
  • Contact: invites her audience to connect with her on a project

As you can see, each page listed above serves a different purpose. Which is why having that one primary keyword per page of your website is so important.

Now let’s look at some primary keyword examples for each of those pages.

For each, I’m also going to include the keyword search intent, keyword volume, and keyword difficulty to bring things to life even more. I pulled these keyword stats using the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool. Semrush is my absolute favorite paid SEO and keyword tool out there, and you can click here for a free trial of Semrush!

Okay, back to our primary keyword examples for a Squarespace designer…

  • Home: Squarespace Templates for Women Entrepreneurs (commercial, 0 keyword volume, 3% keyword difficulty)
  • About: Squarespace Web Designer (navigational and transactional, 480 keyword volume, 50% keyword difficulty)
  • Shop: Custom Squarespace Templates (commercial, 170 keyword volume, 40% keyword difficulty)
  • Template #1: Best Squarespace Template for Photographers (commercial, 40 keyword volume, 21% keyword difficulty)
  • Template #2: Squarespace Template for Coaches (commercial, 20 keyword volume, 0% keyword difficulty)
  • Contact: Hire a Squarespace Designer (transactional, 30 keyword volume, 33% keyword difficulty)

But as you can see, each primary keyword aligns with the purpose of that specific page which will make it very easy for Google to understand what each page is about.

Let’s take a look at another and go through some primary keyword examples for a website copywriter. So let’s pretend these are a few of the pages on her site…

  • Home: Website Copywriter for Creatives (commercial, 20 keyword volume, 26% keyword difficulty)
  • About: Freelance SEO Copywriter (commercial, 170 keyword volume, 24% keyword difficulty)
  • Services (Main): Copywriting Services for Small Businesses (informational, 40 keyword volume, 2% keyword difficulty)
  • Service #1 (Website Copywriting): Website Copywriting Services (commercial, 720 keyword volume, 36% keyword difficulty)
  • Service #2 (Email Copywriting): Email Copywriting Services (commercial, 110 keyword volume, 11% keyword difficulty)
  • Course: Email Marketing Copywriting Course (commercial, 20 keyword volume, 32% keyword difficulty)

And one more for good measure—let’s go through primary keyword examples for a wedding photographer, too…

  • Home: Chicago Wedding Photographer (commercial, 1300 keyword volume, 48% keyword difficulty)
  • Services: Wedding Photography Packages Chicago (commercial, 30 keyword volume, 23% keyword difficulty)
  • Portfolio Project #1: Chicago History Museum Wedding (transactional, 480 keyword volume, 27% keyword difficulty)
  • Portfolio Project #2: Chicago Botanic Garden Wedding Photos (informational, 20 keyword volume, 24% keyword difficulty)
  • Portfolio Project #3: Olive Park Chicago Engagement Session (informational, 0 keyword volume, 0 keyword difficulty)

Now with this wedding photographer example, there’s something I want to point out. Notice for the portfolio projects they aren’t “Betty and Bob’s Engagement Session” or “Susie and Sam’s Chicago Wedding.”

Who are Betty and Bob? Who are Susie and Sam?

Potential clients aren’t searching your past client’s names. You want to focus on what the photography session was and describe it—was it the wedding itself, was it the wedding reception, was it an engagement session, where was the engagement session or wedding held, what season or time of year did it take place, what was the theme or vibe, etc, etc.

As fun as it may be for your past clients to see their names in lights on your website, it should not be your primary keyword. You should focus on describing the session to really hone in on those long-tail keywords we’re after.

(And FYI, this tip is for anyone with portfolio projects on their site, not just photographers.)

Where to Include Primary Keywords on Your Website

There are many key places you want to include your primary keyword to give Google the context clues it’s looking for to understand what your content is about.

So here are the main places you want to include your primary keyword on each page of your website (this includes standard pages like home, about, and services as well as blog posts, product pages, etc)

Heading 1 (H1 Tag)

H1 tags are the most important of all headers—which is why including your primary keyword in your H1 is so important. And as a reminder and refresher, you should only have ONE heading 1 per page of your website.

Now as a little web designer inside tip, your H1 doesn’t always have to be the largest styled text. Most times, people want to use that for the creative brand statement that pulls their audience in…and your primary keyword may not fit nicely into that.

So as an easy trick, use an eyebrow header (the pre-header above the big text) as your H1! Website platforms like Showit make this really easy to do since you can select the text tag for each element on your site no matter what font style you’ve selected.

Using the copywriter example from above, we had the keyword “Website Copywriter for Creatives” selected for the homepage. So you’d use that for the H1 in an eyebrow header and then write something clever below that in a paragraph font but styled to be that large-looking header.

Title Tag and Meta Description

The next place you want to include your primary keyword is in your title tag and meta description. Remember, these are the elements that show up in search results and are essentially what help to sell your page over the zillions of other results that appear.

Throughout the Body Copy

Next, you want to use your primary keyword naturally throughout the general body copy on that page—and bonus points if you can include it within the first paragraph or the first 150-200 words.

And you don’t need to include it a zillion times. You can even do a quick search on that page of your site to see how many times you’ve used your primary keyword (Command + F on a Mac).

Secondary Headings (H2, H3)

You can also incorporate your primary keyword into secondary headings on the page, like H2 or H3. Now, there may be something else you want to include in these secondary headings as well but we’ll get to that next week! (hint, hint)

Image Alt Text (if it makes sense)

The purpose of image alt text is to describe the content of the image itself. It is absolutely not a place to stuff any and all keywords (please don’t do this).

You do not need to include “picture of” or “photo of” when writing your alt text because screen readers will automatically identify to the user that the element they are on is an image.

So remember, describe the content of the image first and foremost. If you’re able to incorporate your keyword into the alt text, great—but don’t force it.

URL Slug

Your URL slug isn’t really a Google ranking factor, but it does in a way tie into the user experience. You want your URLs to be as clear and concise as possible.

And it’s a great way to elevate the seemingly basic yourwebsite.com/services to something more specific to your business like yourwebsite.com/copywriting-services, for example.

Anchor Text

And last but certainly not least, incorporating your primary keyword into anchor text is a key component of a solid internal linking strategy.

As a quick lesson, internal links are links on your website that go from one page to another page. So that button on your homepage that leads to your services page or your about page…that’s an internal link. And that hyperlinked text in your blog post to another blog post you have…that’s an internal link, too.

That hyperlinked text in your blog post, that’s called anchor text. And there are a few different types of anchor text but for this example, we’re going to focus on exact match anchor text.

Exact match anchor text is when the hyperlinked text exactly matches the primary keyword of the page it’s linking to.

So let’s say I have a blog post about title tags and meta descriptions and another blog post about Showit SEO Settings.

In the title tag and meta descriptions blog post, I talk about how to edit them in Showit. I say something like…”You’ll need to access your Showit SEO Settings to edit the title tag and meta description for each page of your website.”

So with this example, I’ve used “Showit SEO settings” as the anchor text—which is the primary keyword for the blog post that I’m linking to.

And there you have it—everything you need to know about primary keywords in SEO!

Did you love this post? Share it!

Hey there, I'm Stepf—Google Superfan & Passionate Educator

And the showit website designer and seo strategist you’ve been looking for

Through strategic Showit website design and done-for-you search engine optimization, I work with innovative and creative business owners like you to build magazine-worthy websites that effortlessly attract your ideal client—so much so that they’ll never want to leave.

Get to know me