Keyword Selection and Optimization

Written By: Stephen Scott
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Keyword optimization of your web pages is crucial to securing a high search engine ranking and generating more traffic to your website. Keywords are essentially short phrases that describe what your website is all about.

About 85 percent of Web surfers find sites through search engines simply by entering in keyword phrases. Although there are companies that have thousands of dollars to spend on marketing, website owners do not have that luxury. So in order to make more people aware of your site, it is important to choose the most appropriate keyword phrases.

Proper keyword research, selection and optimization in your website is very important to your website ranking in the search engines.

Keyword Selection Is Fundamental

Keyword selection is the first and most important step in search engine optimization. Unfortunately, it's also where many people go wrong. If you pick a keyword that is not being searched for, you won't get traffic. On the other hand, pick the right ones and you are well on your way to bringing targeted and well qualified visitors to your website.

Finding and optimizing your website for the right keywords is critical to your websites' success. Obviously, it would be a waste of time to optimize your website for keywords that are not even being searched for. Therefore it is important to take the time and effort to research your keyword selection. There are several keyword search tools available on the Internet to help you find the best keywords. One of the most popular keyword selection tools is WordTracker.

Wordtracker is the most popular keyword research tools available today. We have used WordTracker over the past several years and found it to be an excellent tool for finding the most effective keywords.

Research Keyword Popularity

How do you tell the difference between a keyword you "think" is popular vs. one that actually is popular? The search engines themselves are the best resource for finding popular keywords and analyzing keyword popularity. Search engines provide real world data on the number of times a keyword phrase is actually used as a query.

The key to finding the right keywords is balance. You want keywords that are popular, but not too popular. For example, if you enter the keyword "tennis" into Google's query box and hit enter you would get millions of results returned. However, if you enter "tennis in los angeles" your search results are reduced dramatically and more relevant to what you are searching for.

Statistics show that most searchers end up using multiple words in their search. So narrowing the keywords filters out the general information about tennis and focuses in on specifically what the searcher is looking for. More importantly, you should target keyword phrases so that they reflect the nature of your website.

Use "Long Tail" Keyword Phrases

If you optimize with a long tail keywords (keyword phrases consisting of 4 or more words), you increase your chances that your website will be found. By decreasing the popularity with "long tail" keyword phrases you actually increase the relevancy and conversion rate of your website.

Here's an example. Suppose you have a company that sells laptop computers, and the term "laptop computer" is your keyword phrase. Now even thought the phrase "laptop computer" is 2 words, it is still too general and anyone using that term in a search engine is going to get very general non-relevant results - everything from laptop computer repair to computer carrying cases.

The consumer looking for information on laptop computers may initially search on the general term and then begin to refine their search when they see non-relevant results. When developing your keywords you must put yourself in the mind of the customer and be as specific as possible with your keyword selection.

Using the example above, adding a brand name to the keyword phrase "laptop computer" and optimizing your website for the longer keyword phrase will result in higher rankings for that particular keyword phrase. The longer keyword phrase "19 inch dell laptop computer" is less popular, but popular enough and more specific so that it will bring qualified and motivated buyers to your website.

Make Sure Your Keywords Are Relevant

Relevancy is very important when choosing your keywords. It is crucial to both web searchers and search engines that you website content is actually about the keyword phrase you select. Optimizing for "Tiger Woods" only makes sense if your website is actually about Tiger Woods. Search engines are very good at finding, and in many cases penalizing, websites that attempt to mislead. If you are optimizing your page correctly, there is no reason to use spam tactics.

Don't Over Optimize Your Home Page

Don't try to optimize your home page for every one of your keyword phrases. Chances are your subpages contain content that is topic specific. Try to treat each page of your website as a micro website that is focused on a specific topic. By spreading out the related keywords on other pages you are actually creating additional entry points for visitors to your website. Focus your pages so 2-3 keywords are relevant per page.

Select 10 pages on your site and target 2-3 phrases per page as appropriate. Since each page is targeted at specific phrases, they will score higher than a "one size fits all" solution.

Keywords Placement Counts

One less known SEO secret is search engines determine the subject of your page within the first 4,000 characters. So, its important to make sure your keywords are located within the first 4,000 characters on your web page. Ideally, the earlier your keywords are placed on your web page the better.

After you strategically place your keywords on your page, be sure to proof-read your page - and read it out loud. Make sure the text on your page sounds natural, not artificially stuffed with keywords. Remember, you have to please human visitors to your site as well as search engines.

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