Two keywords.

Both alike in dignity, in fair content marketing, where we lay our scene.

Dramatic Romeo and Juliet references aside, this is a scenario that will come up – if it already hasn’t – when you’re targeting keywords in your content.

The question is, what do you do with closely related keyword terms? Do you keep them together? Or do you split them apart?

These are common questions for the SEO content marketer, and rightly so.

When you have two keyword terms that look very similar – either regarding wording or their underlying ideas – it can be hard to know what to do with them.

Here are some of the specific details you may be wondering:

  • “Should I create content for both keywords?”
  • “Can I target both keywords in the same piece?”
  • “How much content should I create for each keyword?”

Before we jump into the answers to these questions, we need to decide if the keywords in question are about the same topic or two different topics.

In other words, are they both Montagues? Or is one a Montague and one a Capulet?

This has everything to do with whether you’ll target them both in one shot, or separate them with your targeting.


Will you break up your two star-crossed keywords, or keep them together forever?

related keyword terms

For Closely Related Keyword Terms, Divide (or Add) by Topic

Look at your keywords closely.

You’re probably rolling your eyes, thinking “I’ve already done that – that’s the problem,” but bear with me.

You need to do some research to determine whether they fall under the same topic. You can’t know this offhand; you need to go to the source to figure it out.

Let us hence, as Shakespeare would say. Open up Google. We’re going to follow a great strategy from Orbit Media.

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1. Search for Both Keywords in Google and Compare the Results

Since Google is the main search engine we’re writing for, we need to see what Google says about the keywords in question.

If the related keywords are about the same topic, they will show similar results in Google. If they’re different, there won’t be much overlap at all.

Orbit Media compares “deck addition value” with “how much value does a deck add.” For our purposes, we’ll look at the differences (or similarities) in Google for the terms “how to make spaghetti” and “spaghetti Bolognese recipe.”

2. Check for Similarities or Differences in Results and Key Terms

Here are the results for “spaghetti Bolognese recipe”:


And here are the results for “how to make spaghetti”:


As you can see, although both key phrases have the same word in each, “spaghetti,” they have zero overlap in Google search results. These are two different topics, and we can create different content that targets each.

Simple, right?

But, what if your key phrases have lots of overlap? Take a look at this tweaked example using “how to make spaghetti” and “cook spaghetti.”

The “how to make spaghetti” results don’t change. Here are the results from “cook spaghetti.” I’ve highlighted the overlap between each keyword’s results:


There’s enough overlap to determine that Google sees these two keywords/phrases as belonging to similar topics.

With this information, we can skip creating content for each phrase.

Instead, we can target both keywords in the same piece of content. Here’s how.

How to Target Two Different Keywords in the Same Content Piece

We can create a blog or article that’s optimized for both “cook spaghetti” and “how to make spaghetti.” It’s a good strategy for killing two birds with one stone when you have two very closely related overlapping phrases about the same topic.

Here are the steps to follow for targeting two different but related keywords:

1. Make Sure the Keywords Share a Few Words

If the keywords share some main words, they’re perfect to target in the same content piece.

In our example, “how to make spaghetti” and “cook spaghetti” share a word.

If we wanted to make it even better, we could tweak the second keyword. “Cook spaghetti” could become “make spaghetti.” This way, we have two similar phrases representing broad and narrow ends of a spectrum.

2. Target Topics, Not Keywords

You have your keywords, but you shouldn’t be worrying about keyword density.

Instead, you should be aiming for a good overview of your topic. The keywords should come naturally and fit effortlessly into the flow of the text.

If you’re doing it the other way around and counting keywords, you’re doing it wrong.

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3. Write Up Your Post with Good SEO Practices

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use good SEO when you’re writing about your topic.

Absolutely go ahead and use the great tips and tricks you know for boosting your content with search engine optimization. This should include strategic keyword placement in headers, the meta description, title tags, and in the body of your copy.

Use a primary keyword in the main header, meta description, and H2s. Use your secondary keyword in H2s and H3s.

I repeat: This is not about counting keywords. This is about the future of SEO, which is the semantic web. It’s about meaning, not about exact keyword-matching.


How Much Content Should You Create for Related Keywords?

Another great question about closely related keywords has to do with how much content you should produce for each (or either).

The content creation question has been much-discussed in the industry, in general. A couple of basic rules to follow have emerged from the conversation. These definitely apply to your related keywords.

1. Quality Trumps Quantity Every. Single. Time.

It’s better to have one exceptional piece of content for a keyword rather than dozens of sub par to downright-bad pieces.

In fact, Content Marketing Institute says your content should be “epic.” If you’re putting that much effort into each piece, your production volume will naturally go down.

Guess what? That’s fine. (Breathe a sigh of relief.)

Always focus on quality over quantity when you’re deciding how much content to create. In fact…

2. Don’t Focus on an Amount to Hit at All

Getting as many pieces of content targeting a keyword out there as possible is not the way to rank. The amount doesn’t matter as much as consistency.

As long as you’re continually updating your site with fresh content that’s high quality, you’re fine. The total amount you put out – whether it’s twice a week, once a week, or once every few weeks – won’t make a difference.

Steadily build your content volume – don’t flood the internet and people’s feeds in a short amount of time. Lots of content will help you, but only if each piece has great value.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can’t do that with your clout, either.

The Key for Similar Keywords? Common Sense Combined with Strategy

Now that you understand how to approach similar keywords, you can take that knowledge and run with it.

A couple of basic principles apply in every scenario. First, do your research – rely on Google to tell you what’s what. You can target keywords that fall under the same topic can in one piece. Keywords that end up being about two different topics can each get their own limelight.

Second, remember, for your content creation to go anywhere, you have to set up a balance of quality and quantity.


This slide from a! presentation shows how important that balance is.

The amount of content you produce for closely related keywords doesn’t matter as much as what you produce. You need strong, epic posts that strive to be the best on the internet for that topic.

A few epic posts are worth more than tens of lazy, filler posts that have little or no value for the user. Epic posts additionally don’t lean on keyword density. Instead, they use keywords naturally and smoothly with some strategic placement as the cherry on top.

Finally, don’t expect magic overnight. Building your presence and rankings takes time, effort, patience, and determination.

It can be hard to create epic content that uses keywords the right way. That’s what Express Writers is here for. We take care of the work so you can cta express writers