Keyword Selection for SEO
I called in the expert for this article. Mikkel has spent many an hour learning and discovering the way the search engine world works. Here are his thoughts on choosing keywords for your home page....
Most Internet users rely on search engines like Google™, Yahoo!®, MSN® Search, AOL® Search, etc. when searching for content on the Internet. This means that if you want to claim your share of the booming Internet market, you must ensure that the search engines are directing visitors to your Web site. In other words, you need to “search-engine optimize” your custom home page. The search engine optimization process begins with choosing the keywords for your site.
Researching Your Keywords
Keywords are words and phrases that describe the content of a Web page. The keywords must match the search terms Internet users are typing into search engines when looking for the type of content offered by your Web site. The proper keywords for your website should reflect the products and services you are selling and your particular niche market.
So how do you determine the right keywords for your website? The first thing you need to do is to put yourself in the Internet users’ place and imagine which search terms they would be using when looking for a deal on the products you are offering. Those words/phrases might include such terms as “domains,” “domain registration,” “Web hosting,” “e-mail accounts,” etc., depending on your product selection. And don’t forget keywords specific for your niche market.
Another good place to start your keyword research is to take a look at your competition. Simply look at Web sites of your main competitors on the Internet and take a close look at the keywords used in Title tags, Meta tags, page copy, etc. To learn who your main competitors are, simply go to one of the top search engines and type in the keywords you are considering for your website. The top results returned by the search engine will reveal the nature of your competition.
The following general rules should be kept in mind as you define the keywords for your website.
Be specific — generic keywords, such as “domains,” “hosting” or “e-mail,” could be featured on literally millions of Web sites. More specific words and phrases, like "Web Design in Miami", will significantly narrow the amount of Web pages that rely on the same keywords. Generic keywords may be necessary, but should be combined with more specific phrases.
Be intuitive — the keywords must reflect words and phrases that potential customers would actually use when searching for Web content. Highly technical terms generally should be replaced with commonly-used ones.
Consider popularity — a keyword's popularity is an indication of how many search engine users have searched for it. In theory, the more popular your keywords are, the more likely you are to attract customers. However, popular keywords generally mean tougher competition for the top search engine rankings. Your keywords, therefore, should hit the right balance between being popular enough to generate significant traffic to your site and being rare enough to actually allow you a chance of securing your site's top ranking for them. A number of tools, including Wordtracker (http://www.wordtracker.com/) and the free Yahoo! Search Marketing Keyword Selector (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/), allow you to easily research the popularity of potential keywords for your site.
Narrowing Down Your List
Write down the words and phrases that come to mind as you perform your research. Then, having determined their popularity, boil the list down to two or three keywords that you can optimize your content for. These keywords should appear frequently in your Web pages’ Title and Meta tags, page copy, image Alt attributes, heading text, link anchor text, etc. A longer list of keywords can be compiled and used in the Keywords Meta tag on your Web pages.
The keyword selection process for your Web site is a crucial step in your quest for prosperity. Choosing and using the optimal keywords may well define the difference between turning your Web site into a virtual hotspot and allowing it to remain in relative obscurity.