When Should You Insert Keyphrases Into Your Copy?

I received a fantastic question during an interview for The Copywriter Club Podcast. (Hey, Rob and Kira!) 

In fact, it’s a question newbie SEO writers struggle with all the time.

“When should I insert keyphrases into my copy? As I write? Or should I add them after I’m done writing?”

Although some people will tell you their way is the right way, this is one of those rare SEO writing instances where you can do your own thing.

Meaning, you can add keyphrases as you write the copy. You can edit them in after. Heck, you can do both. You do you.

Having said that, both approaches have some specific advantages.

If you want to add the keyphrases as you write:

It can be faster. You can write spectacular content and include keyphrases all in one pass — no additional optimization necessary.

It saves editing time. You won’t need to edit a sentence (or more) to make your keyphrases “fit” the way you want. They’re already in the content.

If you want to add the keyphrases after you write the main copy:

It can be easier. ESPECIALLY if you’re new to SEO writing. Doing it this way may mean more content editing to make the keyphrases fit. That’s OK.

You may see keyphrase (or content) opportunities that you didn’t see when you wrote the main copy. This is especially true for keyphrase synonyms and related words.

Plus, keyphrase editing is a great way to make old copy better for Google (and easier for your readers to find.) Here’s how to do it.

What do I do?

Both. Of course. :)

Yes, I’ll add the keyphrases as I write the content. I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s easy for me to see the keyphrase opportunities and to include them where they naturally flow.


I always take a second (or third) keyphrase pass as part of my editing process. I double-check that I didn’t go wild with my keyphrase usage — and I also look for missed keyphrase (even topic) opportunities.

You may choose a “best of both worlds” approach, too. It’s what works for you.

What about keyphrase research? Can I do that after I write the content?


You should conduct keyphrase research before you start writing. Every time.


Because today’s SEO writing process isn’t like the bad ol’ days when we were optimizing pages for a single keyphrase like [running shoes.]

In today’s brave new SEO writing world, we’re weaving in a number of topic-based keyphrases.

For instance, I just evaluated an REI blog post about how to choose trekking poles and hiking staffs. Although [how to choose trekking poles] and [how to choose hiking staffs] were obviously the page’s main keyphrases, the guide also discussed how to find the right length for the right terrain, how the poles are made, and how-to tips.

What’s more, all of their subheads topics, such as “tips for using trekking poles” are based on keyphrases and keyphrase research. 

Is it any wonder that, according the SEMrush, this ONE page is positioning for 595 keyphrases?

Yes, 595 keyphrases.

That’s why keyphrase research is more than just learning how people search. It can also give you article structure ideas. 

For instance, you may find a tasty question-oriented keyphrase during the research phase that may slightly change how you approach the content. Having all the data in front of you early can prevent extensive rewrites later.

As I’ve always said, keyphrase research gives you power.

What do you think?

When do you add keyphrases to your SEO content? As you write? Or after you’re done as part of the editing process? Leave your comment below!

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  1. […] Have you ever wondered if you should work keyphrases in as you write… or if you should edit them in after you’re done? Heather Lloyd-Martin has your answer right here. […]

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