By S. Housley
Selecting and utilizing appropriate keywords is a critical step in Web design. If your Web site and meta tags do not contain related keywords, web surfers will be unable to find you through search engines, which use keywords to index sites.
The formula is a little tricky — you will need to locate terms that are popular and relevant to your site. These terms may or may not be terms that you feel are relevant terms. The optimal terms in a site should be terms that a potential customer would use when searching for a website with your content. In order to achieve success, your Web site should be optimized with terms and phrases that are descriptive, related to your content, and which receive a significant amount of searches. The caveat, of course, is that you want to find terms and phrases which have little competition, so you quickly achieve high ranking in the important search engines.
In short, keywords that are relevant and popular with searchers but not with competitors are a shortcut to success.
Markets saturated with other sites competing for search terms make it difficult to find quality keywords. Sometimes it is better to optimize for a less popular term if it is one that is more targeted at your visitor, as it will likely have a higher conversion rate than a less-specific popular term.
The first step to determining keywords is brainstorming a list of logical terms and phrases that relate to your product or offerings. This should be done by a number of individuals; sometimes people have very different ideas for search terms, and by identifying a variety of people and their search terms you may tap words that hadn’t occurred to you. There are also a number of free and low-cost tools available online and for download that will allow you to expand and research terms that have been brainstormed. The results typically vary with the tools but overall the tools will assist you in determining where to focus your keyword efforts. The tools will often assist with pay-per-click engines, creating expanded, related keywords, or phrases that can be bid on.
In addition to examining log files to see what terms customers are using to find a website, visit competitor’s Web sites and examine their meta tags for additional terms. Then use a thesaurus to find related terms, including misspellings of keywords in your meta tag keywords, and optimize for various forms of nouns and verbs, including tenses and plurals.
Here are some tools that will make this process much easier:
- KeywordTumbler takes existing keyword phrases and generates multiple variations, reordering the words. This allows you to build a large keyword list in seconds.
- TheDowser is an Overture Keyword Tool, Google Keyword Sandbox, Keyword Harvester, Google AdWords report analyzer, Google AdWords optimization tool, log file analyzer, conversion tracking and optimization tool.
- Wordtracker helps you choose the right internet marketing keywords that will help your search engine placement and ranking. Use Wordtracker for keyword research. Web marketing is all about search engine ranking, and that starts with the proper internet marketing keywords. Get a free keyword report and Web site promotion information.
- Keyword Suggestion Tool is a handy little tool that will show you the results of your query from both Wordtracker and Overture to help you determine which phrases are searched most often. Enter a search phrase to see how often it’s searched for, as well as get suggestions for alternate (but similar) keywords.
- Keyword Ranking Tool can be used to check search engines for keyword ranking and track search engine ranking for your various keywords over time, which, as you probably know, is critical when performing search engine optimization.
- Overture Keyword Tool provides a list of related phrases for any that you enter. The tool includes a count that indicates the number of times the phrase has been searched for.
- Topword Tool is a free online tool that analyzes a complete Web page and counts keyword occurrences, as well as keyword phrases (the number in brackets) equal to or above that set in the Minimum Occurrences setting. It supplies a list of keywords and keyword phrases which are most likely to achieve the highest rankings on a major search engine. The tool will also analyze your meta description/keyword and title tags and then, through color coding, inform you of words/phrases which should be included. The main use for this tool is checking your optimization and tweaking existing Web sites to rank well.
- Google Suggestion is a new online tool for webmasters. As you type into the search box, Google Suggest guesses what you’re typing and offers suggestions in real time. This is similar to Google’s “Did you mean?” feature that offers alternative spellings for your query after you search, except that it works in real time. For example, if you type “bass,” Google Suggest might offer a list of refinements that include “bass fishing” or “bass guitar.” Similarly, if you type in only part of a word, like “progr,” Google Suggest might offer you refinements like “programming,” “programming languages,” “progesterone,” or “progressive”. You can choose one by scrolling up or down the list with the arrow keys or mouse. The tool also indicates the number of searches a specific word or phrase has had.
Keyword statistics give webmasters a way to tap into what is on the minds of Internet consumers. When you can match your marketing efforts to the various ways people locate their items of interest on the net, potential customers will be streamed to your site like ants to a picnic.