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Topic vs Keyword SEO: What's More Important?

How are Topics Different From Keywords?

By
Sanjoli Arora

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Content is king, and it has always been the driving force behind Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As marketers, the converging lines of topics and keywords often shape discourse in content generation. But how do these two entities distinctly influence optimization? Is one more impactful than the other?

To fully dissect this, we'll delve into the annals of search engine technology evolution & its effect on the selection of content generation. Read on, and let's journey together down the rabbit hole of topics vs keywords, exploring their interplay in the grand scheme of SEO.

Topic vs Keyword SEO

Understanding Topics vs Keywords in SEO strategy makes a world of difference. Topics are broad subjects that your content revolves around, whereas keywords are specifics that users type into search engines.

In SEO, keywords are often confused with topics. This is due to their close relation, as both are essential for search engine optimization. However, the real difference lies in their use.

While topics provide a general direction for your content, keywords are used to optimize this content for search engines and target specific searches. So, in the battle of topics vs keywords in SEO, both are crucial for a successful SEO strategy.


Let us understand both keywords and topics in detail.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are the words or phrases individuals enter into search engines when seeking information.

Keywords are the bridge between what people are searching for and the content you provide to fill that need.

In essence, they act as a compass for your SEO campaigns, guiding you in the right direction & helping you to rank higher on SERP.

When it comes to keywords, it's not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Explore other types of keywords in our blog.

How to Use Keywords in Your Content?

While there is no set rule for the number of keywords you should include in your content, it's important to strike a balance.

It is typically recommended to use your primary keyword in 1-2% of your content.

However, more crucial than keyword density is the relevance & value of your content to your audience.

Google & Keywords

Google tends to reward well-written and informative content, regardless of keyword density. It can lead to a poor user experience & potentially harm your site's ranking.

Google’s ranking algorithm is sophisticated enough to understand your content’s context without the need for excessive keyword repetition. This way, Google ensures its users find genuine, relevant content, not simply bursting with keywords.

Adding keywords has many SEO benefits.

Importance of Keywords in SEO

1. Keywords in SEO drive qualified web traffic. They signal relevance to search engines, attract interested visitors, and increase conversion chances.

2. SERP rankings improve with keywords. They form the search engine algorithms' foundation and align with search queries, boosting visibility and traffic.

3. Effective keywords enhance user experience. They contribute to engaging content, satisfy search algorithms, and elevate engagement rates.

4. Keywords facilitate content strategy. They help understand audience needs, tune content to user requirements, and ensure content relevance.

5. Location-based keywords boost local SEO. They allow businesses to leverage local searches, attracting local customers, especially in mobile searches.

What are Topics in SEO Content?

Topics are central ideas or subjects that form the basis of a piece of content.

In SEO, topics are also key concepts or themes that web content revolves around, which help search engines understand what the content is all about. They are broader than keywords, which are more specific phrases usually included within the content.

Topics also play a major role in structuring the website content.

Creating a topic cluster model helps organize and link related content on a website. This enhances the user's browsing experience and helps with SEO as search engines can recognize the semantic relationship between the contents.

Integrating topics into your SEO strategy can boost visibility in search results, and improve your website’s authority on the subject in the eyes of search engines.


Read our blog and learn how to build topical authority & drive quality traffic.

What is the Difference Between Keywords and Topics

Factor Keywords Topics
Scale One, unique, individual search query Collective of multiple keywords
Use Case Used for SEO and help search engines understand what queries to rank Content strategy and building topical authority with high-quality content.
Intent Fulfill user intents directly It is general and cover a wider range of content
Flexibility Tactical and needs careful selection Strategic but more flexible on how to address the subject
Success Metrics Short-term goals of clicks and conversions Long-term success of your content strategy and analytics

1. Topics vs Keywords: Entity Size

Keywords are individual words or phrases people use to search for information online. They are specific & often relate to a particular product, service, or topic.

Topics are broader than keywords and can encompass multiple related keywords. They help to align content with your audience's needs and interests, and can also help to structure and organize your content for better usability and navigation.

2. Keywords are Used for SEO, While Topics are Used for Content Strategy

Keywords are primarily used for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. They help search engines understand what a piece of content is about & rank it accordingly. Topics, on the other hand, are used for content strategy and help guide content creation.

Topics form the backbone of a content plan, providing an overall direction and helping to ensure that the content created is relevant and valuable to the target audience.

3. Topics vs Keywords: Intent and Specificity

Keywords are often more specific and are focused on fulfilling a user's intent when they search. For example, someone searching the keyword "best digital cameras" is likely looking for reviews or recommendations on digital cameras.

Topics, however, can be more general and cover a wider range of content. For instance, the topic "photography" could include subtopics like camera gear, photo editing techniques, photography tutorials, etc.

4. Keywords are More Tactical, While Topics are More Strategic

Keywords are a tactical element of content strategy. They are chosen based on data & used to optimize individual pieces of content.

Keywords need to be carefully selected and placed naturally within content to avoid keyword stuffing, which can result in penalties from search engines. This sometimes limits their flexibility within a piece of content.

Topics, on the other hand, are a strategic element of content strategy. They are chosen based on the overall goals of the content strategy & used to guide the creation of multiple pieces of content.

Topics offer more flexibility as they allow for a wider range of related keywords and phrases to be included. This can make for more varied and engaging content.

5. Evaluation Method & Time-period

Keywords are often chosen based on short-term goals, such as increasing traffic or conversions. They may change over time as search trends and user behavior evolve.

The success of keyword usage is often evaluated by its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), click-through rates (CTR), and conversion rates.

Topics require time and effort over a longer period. They are chosen based on the overall direction of the content strategy and may remain consistent. Topical success is typically measured by metrics like user engagement, overall website traffic, and the number of shares or likes on social media platforms.

Why Do You Need To Start Thinking About Topics Instead Of Keywords?

One of the main reasons to shift focus from keywords to topics is because Google has done the same.

Google's algorithms, for example, have evolved significantly in recent years, becoming more sophisticated and better at understanding the context and intent behind a user's search query. Rather than relying solely on keyword matching, these algorithms now look for content that comprehensively covers a specific topic and provides value to searchers.

When a site is optimized around topics, the content naturally includes various related keywords, synonyms, and phrases that a searcher might use. This strategy, known as topic clustering, helps improve your site's visibility in search results and makes it easier for users to navigate your site and find relevant information.

Exploring the difference between topics and keywords, we find that topics are broader and cover a wide range of related content. On the other hand, keywords are specific phrases targeted within the content.

While keywords put you in a box of limited content, topics allow you to explore a wider range and offer comprehensive content that satisfies the searcher’s query.

Moreover, focusing on topics instead of keywords aligns with the ultimate goal of SEO - to provide valuable, engaging, and relevant content to the audience. Keyword-focused content may attract visitors to your site, but it must be valuable and engaging to keep them there and encourage them to return. Therefore, a topic-focused approach can result in better user engagement and improved SEO performance.

Create Topical Authority & Optimize Keyword Relevance

Topics provide a more comprehensive understanding of the content rather than keywords. Search engines can analyze more information and effectively index the content.

1. Improved User Experience: Focusing on a topic ensures you provide relevant and valuable content to your audience, this makes the user experience better and boosts SEO.

2. Ranking in Semantic Search: Google's semantic search evaluates the context around keywords. By focusing on topics, you align better with semantic search algorithms and boost your rankings.

3. Reduced Keyword Stuffing: Concentrating on topics instead of keywords helps avoid the risk of keyword stuffing, which can lead to penalties from search engines.

4. Boosting Content Relevance: Topics ensure you are writing about things that are relevant to your audience, which increases engagement and improves your SEO.

5. Enhancing Content Depth: Writing on a topic allows for a broader exploration of the subject matter, this contributes to content depth and can be beneficial for SEO as search engines favor comprehensive, in-depth content.

6. Encourages Strategic Internal Linking: Focusing on a coherent topic throughout your content can naturally lead to more strategic internal linking, thereby improving the site’s SEO performance.

7. Long-term SEO Strategy: While keywords may fluctuate in popularity, a well-chosen topic can remain relevant for a longer period, ensuring a sustainable approach to SEO.

Which is More Important: Keywords or Topics

In conclusion, the efficacy of both keywords & topics in digital content creation is undeniable. Their importance in driving audience engagement, site visibility, and ranking cannot be understated. However, it's vital to understand that neither can replace the other.

Keywords help make your content discoverable, while topics ensure your content stays relevant & comprehensive. Ignoring either can lead to a lack of depth, engagement, and reach.

The optimal approach, therefore, lies in integrating keywords within a broader, topic-focused content strategy. This caters to the semantic understanding of modern search algorithms and enhances user experience. It helps provide a more comprehensive & engaging answer to user queries.

But analyzing keywords & getting ideas for your next topics through SERP can be challenging. You might need to use the tools to automate these processes. Using Quattr's free AI tools, you can simplify these processes.

Our tool expands your basic ideas into a wide spectrum of related keywords & topics. This way, you are armed with a holistic view of what your target audience is interested in and searching for.

Prioritize Topics & Keywords with Quattr!

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Topics vs Keywords FAQs

Should the length of my content change depending on its keyword or topic?

Your content's length should vary depending on the keyword or topic. If the keyword requires in-depth exploration, longer content is beneficial. On the other hand, some topics may be better suited to concise, short content. Remember, quality and relevance are key, irrespective of length.

How does keyword and topic research contribute to a website's traffic?

Keyword & topic research significantly drive website traffic by aligning content with user intent. The strategic use of keywords & topics satisfies search engine algorithms, facilitating higher rankings. A balanced approach between topics and keywords ensures a comprehensive SEO strategy, boosting visibility and site visits.

Can a single piece of content rank for multiple topics and keywords?

Keywords & topics aid in understanding trending demands, enabling you to craft targeted content that works in lockstep with SEO algorithms. It improves visibility & driving potential leads to your website.

About The Author

Sanjoli Arora

Sanjoli Arora is a Content Strategist at Quattr and helps our customers create intent-driven content that ranks on search engines. She writes about content marketing, digital marketing, conversion rate optimization, and SEO technology.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

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