Relevant, targeted keywords can get you to
the top of search engine rankings and help
you attract visitors interested in your web
site's content and products. When your
customers enter keywords to search, do they
find you - or your competitors?
Learn how to choose the best keywords for
Keywords Reflect Your Site's Focus
Develop your keyword strategy during the
site design process when you are already
focused on how to communicate the purpose
of your Web site. Selecting your keywords
is much like writing an extremely short
mission statement. Ask yourself several
- What is the site's focus?
- Why is the site's
- Who is your audience?
The answers to those questions will help
you select appropriate keywords because
they force you to think about how your
site's content serves its intended
audience. If you already have an
established business (online or not), go
one step further and ask your customers
what words they would use to find you.
Don't limit your keywords to your products;
people visit your site looking for
For instance, suppose you sell home ice
cream making supplies and attract visitors
with interesting content about ice cream in
general - like ice cream recipes. So your
keywords wouldn't only be product-oriented
(ice cream maker, rock salt, etc), you
would also include keywords and phrases
that describe your content (ice cream
recipes, history of ice cream, etc.).
Research Keyword Popularity
Now you should have quite a few keywords
and keyword phrases that succinctly
describe your product or service. You're
ready to research their effectiveness by
answering 2 questions:
- How many other sites use
the same keywords?
- How many people actually
search on those keywords?
First, select several top search engines
and find out how many results each of your
keywords or phrases return. If you have a
number of keywords and phrases to research,
consider making a simple spreadsheet to
easily organize your information.
|ice cream recipes
|okra ice cream
Overly broad keywords rarely work well.
With "ice cream" as a keyword,
your site competes with many thousands of
other sites for attention. However, the
more targeted "ice cream recipes"
phrase increases your chance of appearing
near the top of the results list. If you
really want to get specific, your site
would always be at the top of a search on
"okra ice cream" - if any users
were to actually search on it.
Find out what keywords people actually use
to query search engines before you make a
final selection. Overture.com's web site includes a Keyword
Popularity tool that tells you how many
queries are made each month at the popular
GoTo/Overture.com search engine. You'll see
how many people searched for a keyword, and
all variations of that keyword.
Include Keywords On Your Page
Once you've decided which keywords are
appropriate for your site, the hard work
begins. You have to integrate them into
your site's content in a credible way.
Here are a few basic techniques to try:
- META Tags: Insert a
META KEYWORD tag into the HEAD
section of your document and
list all your keywords. While
you should use this tag on
every page of your site, you
don't have to use the same
keywords on each page.
- Misspelled Names: If
you're using a keyword that's
often misspelled, include that
misspelling as a keyword - but
not as part of your content!
- Plural Terms: Add
plural forms to your keywords
and using both singular and
plural terms in your content.
Most people use plural search
terms because they hope to
receive a list of results and
not a single site.
Content: Use your keywords
early and often in your page
content. Merely including them
in the META tag is not enough;
search engines assume the terms
are more relevant and important
if they're used in the content
Don't try to fool the search engines by
repeating keywords in a meaningless way
(ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, ice
cream) or by using popular keywords that
don't pertain to your content. They're
wise to these spam techniques and often ban
sites that use them. If a keyword is
really pertinent, you should be able to
legitimately include it several times on
the page. See this article for more keyword
A Delicate Balance
Are the keywords you chose during design
still effective? Maybe not. Search
engines index new Web sites every day; you
have to work to stand out in the crowd. Be
prepared to modify your keywords as your
site and competition changes.
Keyword selection is a delicate balancing
act that begins during design and continues
as long as your site is posted. It's can
be time-consuming, but it's also critically
important to your site's success.
You spend so much valuable time designing a
great site. Make sure that everyone can