Keyword research is one of the cornerstones of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Without the right keywords, website owners cannot grow their organic search traffic. Keywords are also the base upon which most of your content will be written, along with how other aspects of SEO would be formulated (link-building, social media, etc.).
One of the most popular strategies used by SEO experts, and beginners alike, when it comes to choosing keywords is keyword stemming. In this article, we’ll go over what keyword stemming is and how you can use it for your content.
So, what is keyword stemming?
Keyword stemming refers to Google’s ability to recognise different word variations in a search query. Stemming comes from the word stem, which means “base” or “origin” of something, in this case, a word.
For example, when a person uses the word “sell” in a search query, Google’s stemming algorithm will also recognise the words “sells”, “selling”, and “sold” as variations of the word “sell” as well.
Additionally, Google also recognises keywords with added prefixes or suffixes as well as pluralisation. For example, adding the prefix “en” to the word “large” gives you the word “enlarge”. Moreover, adding “ful” to the word “use” produces the word “useful”. Lastly, adding “ies” to “berry” makes it “berries”.
Of course, you don’t want to add a prefix or suffix that completely changes the meaning of the word itself. In other words, the variants you produce shouldn’t have meanings that are completely different from the root keywords.
Now, you’re probably wondering: how can search engine optimisers and web admins make use of this? Well, it’s a pretty straightforward process. Say, for example, you are optimising your content for the term “bucket hat”. In the eyes of Google, “bucket hat” and “bucket hats” are basically the same thing.
Keyword stemming: Generating keyword variations
While our prime recommendation is to hire an SEO expert with years of experience to figure out which variations of keywords you can rely on, we still can walk you through some SEO tools that can help.
Karooya is a free to use keyword variation tool that quickly generates variations of any given English word. Furthermore, a percentage of popularity is given to each variant term.
The Keyword Magic Tool from SEMrush allows users to enter a seed keyword (stem) and generate more ideas. For instance, you can enter “juice shop in London” and select Broad Match and get variants such as “juice shops in London”, “juice shop in London region”, etc.
Ubersuggest is an app developed by Neil Patel that generates keyword ideas from a stem word or phrase.
Google’s own search engine is perhaps the most straightforward way of finding suggestions for keyword variations. You simply search the primary keyword or sentence, and Google will provide you with many variations in return.
When to use keyword stemming
Keyword stemming is great because it allows webmasters to make their content more readable and less spammy by using several variations of the root keyword. You can use different variations of a keyword within the same article, of course. This isn’t an A/B testing-like situation where you would run a different article just because you included different variations of your primary keyword.
You can use anywhere from two to six different variations of the root keyword but with one condition. There are some instances where using keyword stemming can hurt your organic traffic instead of improving it. This includes cases where using a variant of the keyword root does not fit with the context, a point that we will touch upon right now.
One of the most important elements of keyword stemming is ensuring that the variations of your keyword fit with the context of the original keyword and content. This is because the moment you change the context, keyword stemming becomes rather useless since readers of your content will end up confused and unsatisfied.
For example, “basketballer” is technically a variant of “basketball”. However, they don’t refer to the same thing. One is used for athletes, while the other refers to the sport itself. As a result, using these two terms interchangeably can mess up the context of the content you’re producing.
So, does keyword stemming really work?
Due to Google’s continuous improvements, its algorithms are now able to not only recognise stem keywords but also understand the context better than before. In fact, there is proof that Google started utilising word stemming dating back to 2003. In other words, if done correctly, keyword stemming can be extremely helpful for people wanting to produce content in a highly competitive SEO environment.
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