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SEO Secondary Keywords Explained – Ultimate Beginner’s

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TrioSEO - Connor Gillivan

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When you think mastering primary keywords is enough, SEO throws another curveball with secondary keywords. Can they offer that extra edge in transforming a good strategy into an outstanding one?


Cracking the code of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can feel overwhelming, but once you unravel its mysteries, it becomes a game-changer. 

Let’s dive deep and illuminate the topic of secondary keywords, casting light on their role, value, and best practices in this ultimate beginner’s guide. 

What Are Secondary Keywords?

Secondary keywords are supportive sidekicks to your primary keyword, enhancing your content’s reach and depth. By incorporating these types of keywords, you offer readers and search algorithms a richer understanding of your content’s context.

Suppose we’d consider “apple pie recipe” as a primary keyword. Corresponding examples of secondary ones may include “easy apple pie,” “homemade apple pie,” or “best apples for baking.” They revolve around the same theme while shedding light on broader aspects linked with our main subject: creating delicious apple pies.

Now that we’ve defined them let’s move forward and examine where these potent little allies should find their rightful place within our texts.

TrioSEO - Secondary Keywords - What Are Secondary Keywords

Where Do You Use Secondary Keywords?

So, where should secondary keywords be placed? 

The answer is everywhere possible! But remember not to overstuff and compromise legibility. 

Here are some specific places where they naturally fit:

  1. Title tags: A compelling title using a mix of primary and secondary keywords gives you better visibility.
  2. Meta descriptions: A meta description is a perfect place for secondary keywords.
  3. Headers and Subheaders: H2 headings (and more minor) provide excellent opportunities for weaving in secondary keywords.
  4. Content Body: Disperse them evenly across the body of your content, preferably positioning some early on.
  5. Image alt-texts: Besides offering accessibility benefits, image alt-texts add space for inserting those precious secondary phrases.
  6. URL Slugs Embedding pertinent secondary language in URL slugs helps greatly with navigation signals.

One note: Ensure you aim for an organic flow rather than forced inclusion throughout, keeping the content natural and reader-friendly.

How Many Secondary Keywords Should I Use?

Many novice writers ask, “How many secondary keywords are appropriate?” However, the answer is complex because it depends on various factors, such as your content length, complexity, and the topic you are addressing.

As a rule of thumb, aim to include 1-2 additional secondary keywords for every 100 words of text. 

Although, maintain a balanced approach and focus on quality rather than quantity. 

Remember that your ultimate goal is to produce high-quality content that readers find valuable. So, make sure to use secondary keywords strategically and sensibly.

TrioSEO - Secondary Keywords - Why Are Secondary Keywords Important

Why Are Secondary Keywords Important?

Many underestimate secondary keywords’ influence, assuming they hang in the shadow of primary keywords. However, a strategic approach towards secondary keywords can significantly improve your SEO.

Firstly, secondary keywords lend nuance and depth to your web pages by diversifying their keyword presence, which brings considerable variety in how prospective users can discover your site.

Moreover, secondary keywords are integral in making your content comprehensive for topical relevance, providing search engines with an ample understanding of what your content covers. 


  • They help guide your reader through the points you’re making.
  • These words entice people to search for related topics, not just those laser-focused on one narrow area.
  • They help search engines build an association between primary terms and your website.

Strategically incorporating these “little gems” — secondary keywords — into your content (whether blogs, articles, etc.) can enhance your chances of climbing higher in search engine results.

However, remember that moderation is vital. Overuse can potentially lead platforms like Google to label your site as ‘spammy,’ negatively affecting its authenticity score. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced approach.

Dos and Don’ts of Secondary Keywords

Now, let’s cover the dos and don’ts of secondary keyword usage.


  • Do Use them Naturally: Your priority should always be to create high-quality content that helps your users. Thus, naturally, incorporate the secondary keywords into your content to enhance its value without losing readability.
  • Sparingly Use Them: Unlike primary keywords, it’s not necessary to use secondary keywords excessively throughout your article. Their main task is enhancing the context around your primary keyword.
  • Go for Relevance: Always choose secondary keywords relating directly to your primary keyword or subject. This aids search engines in understanding better what topic you’re covering, thereby boosting your page’s relevance score.
  • Distribute Well Across the Content: Put these words in body text, headings, captions, and meta tags where possible. Remember, Google scans more than just body copy.


  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing: Don’t fall prey to overusing or ‘stuff’ less relevant secondary keywords into your content, thinking this may help improve rankings. It will read unnaturally and could lead to penalties from Google instead.
  • Don’t Ignore Long-Tail Keywords: These are great secondary keywords due to their descriptive character and lower competition levels than generic terms.
  • Avoid Irrelevant Keywords: Even though they might have high search volumes, avoid getting tempted to add irrelevant secondaries. That can confuse both – readers and algorithms about what is the core focus of your webpage.

TrioSEO - Secondary Keywords - How Do You Find Secondary Keywords

How Do You Find Secondary Keywords?

Choosing the right secondary keywords can propel your content higher in search engine rankings, guiding more visitors to your site.

But how exactly do you find these elusive key players in SEO? 

Below are practical steps you can take:

  1. Utilize Keyword Research Tools: Utilize popular SEO tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, or Ahrefs to discover keywords related to your primary keyword.
  2. Analyze Competitors: Pay close attention to what competitors are doing right. Examine their websites using an SEO tool and note down any secondary keywords they are ranking for.
  3. Harness Google Autocomplete: Alternatively termed as ‘Google Suggest,’ this feature automatically proposes phrases similar to those typed into its search bar – an excellent source of potential secondary keywords.
  4. Check Out ‘Related Searches’: At the end of each Google Search Results page, there’s a ‘Related Searches’ section showing queries other users frequently make when searching for a given set of words.

Each step provides unique insights into identifying efficient secondary keywords and paves the way for enhanced content visibility online.

Secondary Keywords Examples

Now that we’ve covered how to find secondary keywords, let’s dive into some examples to help solidify our understanding.

Let’s assume “house plants” is the primary keyword you wish to create content with. 

Using the strategies mentioned above:

  • An example outcome from invoking a research tool like Google Keyword Planner might yield “indoor plants,” which qualify as a strong candidate for your list of potential secondary keywords.
  • In analyzing competitor domains via Ahrefs or SEMRush, observations generated may highlight related terms like “low-light house plants” or “how to take care of houseplants,” further augmenting your secondary keyword reservoir.
  • Employing Google Autocomplete while typing “house plants” might recommend phrases including “types of house plants,” these become prime target subjects.
  • Lastly, probing the ‘Related Searches’ will show propitious phrases such as “best house plants for clean air” – a perfect fit for any content revolving around enhancing indoor spaces with foliage.

These are just several examples. 

The world of secondary keywords extends far beyond what can be achieved with simple guesswork. 

By harnessing recommended methodologies, we can ensure our content garners the recognition it deserves. 

TrioSEO - Secondary Keywords - How to Create Keyword Clusters With Secondary Keywords

How to Create Keyword Clusters With Secondary Keywords

Creating keyword clusters with secondary keywords hinges on two main steps: finding the correct vocabulary and grouping it strategically. 

Below is a step-by-step breakdown:

  1. Keyword Research: Identify relevant primary and secondary keywords for your content. Focus on terms that naturally work together or relate to each other closely.
  2. Choose Rank-Able Terms: Having obtained multiple options, narrow your selection to the ones most advantageous for SEO rankings. Ideally, these are relatively high in traffic but low in competition.
  3. Cluster Formation: You now have an arsenal of potential secondary keywords. The next task is forming the clusters. Organize related terms around your chosen primary keywords, ensuring each cluster focuses on a unique subset of your overall topic.

Now, let’s cover a quick example. 

If you’re crafting content about digital marketing services, “digital marketing” would be your primary keyword. Possible associated secondary keywords could include “online advertising,” “content creation,” and “social media management,” among others.

Delving into this further, we could create distinct clusters like so:

  • Primary Keyword: Digital Marketing
  • Cluster 1: Online Advertising
    • PPC campaigns
    • Programmatic ad buying
    • Geo-targeted ads
  • Cluster 2: Content Creation
  • Cluster 3: Social Media Management
    • Facebook marketing
    • Instagram influencer partnerships
    • Twitter branding strategies

Organizing your content around keyword clusters rather than single target terms facilitates thematic relevance throughout your article or blog post while focusing on individual sub-topics under the greater umbrella subject.

Efficient keyword clustering offers an in-depth approach to content creation that resonates with search engine algorithms. 

Are Secondary Keywords and Long-Tail Keywords the Same?

Understanding the distinct roles of ‘Secondary Keywords’ and ‘Long-tail Keywords’ is essential in SEO. Secondary keywords are alternate phrases or synonyms related to your primary keywords, enhancing content diversity and reaching a broader audience.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are specific phrases potential customers use when nearing a purchase decision, targeting a narrower but more focused audience.

Utilizing both types can cater to users at different stages of their browsing or purchasing journeys, facilitating a balanced and successful SEO strategy. Recognizing this subtle yet vital distinction avoids content limitations and optimizes visibility.

Remember, though, not all secondary keywords are long-tails nor vice versa; instead, they exist symbiotically within an ecosystem of search optimization – each with vital roles.

TrioSEO - Secondary Keywords - Are Secondary Keywords and Long-Tail Keywords the Same

What is the Difference Between Secondary and LSI Keywords?

SEO, indeed, has a lot of jargon to keep track of. 

One of the areas that often needs clarification is understanding the difference between secondary keywords and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords

But not to fret – you’re in safe hands.

Understanding Secondary Keywords

Secondary keywords are phrases related directly to your primary keyword. They help add variations and cover more ground by including other search terms people might type into Google when looking for similar content. 

For example, if your primary keyword was “coffee shop,” secondary keywords could be phrases like “local coffee shop,” “best coffee in town,” or even terms directly related to your content, such as “cappuccino” or “latte.”

Grasping LSI Keywords

In contrast, LSI keywords may seem similar, but they play a different ballgame altogether. 

These aren’t necessarily synonyms or directly related to your primary keyword but rather terms commonly found in conjunction with it within relevant content. 

Think context here! 

Sticking with our previous coffee example, LSI keywords could include words like “espresso,” “breakfast pastries,” or even associated geographical locations like “artisan coffee in San Francisco.” 

While secondary keywords create variety based on searcher intent around your topic, LSI keywords build context and relevance during search engine crawling processes. This differentiation enhances how effectively search engines can determine and match the semantics — the meaning — behind your content to supply accurate results for users’ queries.


Harnessing secondary keywords is vital to enhancing SEO. 

Beyond adding related phrases to your content, it’s about creating value and depth in your material, aligning with semantic search practices, and effectively communicating with your audience and search engines.

Implementing them avoids penalties for keyword stuffing and nurtures creativity, encouraging a rich narrative that appeals to humans and algorithms alike. Though it requires time and patience, strategically using secondary keywords can boost organic visibility and foster digital storytelling skills, setting the stage for SEO success.

As we conclude our exploration of secondary keywords, remember that they are not just adjuncts to primary keywords but vital tools to refine your content and expand its reach. 

Now, it’s your turn to weave them into your strategy, blending technical precision with creative flair. Let’s start crafting content with a perfect balance of primary and secondary keywords!

TrioSEO - Connor Gillivan

Want more traffic and leads? Turn your website into a traffic generation hub. Get started and we’ll conduct a free SEO audit to see if working together is a good fit. 

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Steven is the Co-founder & CEO of TrioSEO. His background is in large-scale blogging where he co-owned 40 websites and helped grow the portfolio to 7-figures within 3 years. Follow him on LinkedIn for daily SEO tips, tricks, and strategies.

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