Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals Part 3


Before we begin, Amazon.com has just jumped into the search engine game with A9 Search. Check it out at http://www.a9.com. This is an engine to watch over the coming months!

This is the last in a series of newsletters on how to choose the right keywords for optimizing your Web site. Next issue we will get into applying the keywords you have chosen to your Web site. At this stage you have a big list of keyword phrases. Your objective now is to sort and choose the keyword phrases you plan to use.

Tips & Techniques


Now that you have your master keyword list, probably with a couple hundred keyword phrases, you have to drill down and figure out which keywords you are going to target for each page of your Web site that will be optimized. Realistically you will be able to emphasize 2 or 3 keyword phrases on a single page, and maybe a few others as spill-over. Keep in mind that each page you optimize should lean towards a different set of keywords. Why? What good is buying a 100 lottery tickets for the next draw if they all have the same number? It is the same idea here.

When reviewing your keyword list you need to consider

a) which keywords are vital to your objectives,
b) which keywords are popular enough to generate reasonable, sustainable traffic and
c) which keywords do not have so much competition that it would be counterproductive from a time and effort standpoint to target them.

As a hotel, going after the word “travel” on its own would prove a waste of effort. “Travel” is a vastly popular word, which is good, but it is too generic and too competitive to be worthwhile.

You will have to make judgement calls from time to time. In some cases a word will be very relevant and very popular, but also competitive to the point of being intimidating. If this word is essential to your business then go for it – do not leave it on the sidelines.

When sorting your keywords keep it in the back of your mind that it is not just about the volume of traffic coming to your Web site. You can easily find keyword phrases that bring in a solid volume of traffic, but if that traffic is not targeted and the buyers do not convert then it is not of much use to you in the long run. Your efforts should be focused around those keyword phrases that bring in a fair volume of traffic and that are highly targeted. The ROI for such keywords will be much higher.

It is time to organize your keywords. Assuming you have been recording your keywords in a table or spreadsheet of some sort then organizing your keywords will be a much easier task.

You want to organize your keywords according to their level of importance. When complete you will have a refined master keyword list that you can reference for optimizing your Web site. Also, different directories allow different numbers of keywords to be submitted. Because you have organized the list with the most important words first you can simply include as many of your keywords as the directory will allow.

You can begin editing the list by deleting words that either are too generic (for example, “business”) or are not appropriate for keyword purposes. Review each word and ask yourself if people would search using that word if they were looking for the products and services available through your Web site.

For each page that you are optimizing take a copy of the comprehensive master list and delete words that are not appropriate for that particular page. Reprioritize the remaining keywords based on the content of the page you are indexing. This is then the keyword list for that particular page. Repeat this procedure for every page you will be optimizing. This is also a great procedure when you are developing the keyword meta-tag for each page of your site.

You now have your organized master list(s) of keywords. The next step is to apply the keywords throughout your Web site in the appropriate locations. This is where we will go next in the next newsletter.

What I covered above is a very basic approach to organizing keywords. If you are up to the challenge you can take it further by adding weights and multipliers to your keyword list to further refine it. A basic weighting model might include:

1. Keyword Relevance – You assign a percentage value to a keyword phrase based on how related to your business it is and the estimated probability it will be used by your target market in their searches.

2. Keyword Popularity – The number of times a keyword phrase has been used over a period of time. You can use the WordTracker tool (http://www.wordtracker.com/) covered in the last newsletter to provide you with this data. The “Count” field in WordTracker will tell you how many times a keyword phrase has been searched for over the last couple of months. If you prefer, you can break this down further by referencing individual search engines such as Google.

For each keyword phrase you multiple the keyword relevancy and popularity together to formulate a weighted search importance count. From there you sort your keywords and use that as your refined master list; or you can take it a step further and compare the sorted list against the estimated competition. You can reference WordTracker for estimated competition or go to a search engine such as Google, run a query, and look at the total number of search matches it returns for competitive proxy.

To get a little more specific you can narrow your search to keywords in a title tag. The reason for doing this is that optimizing a title tag is a given when it comes to search engine optimization, so it only makes sense to look at who else is doing it as well. On Google you can enter in “allintitle: keyword phrase,” less the quotes, to search for all pages with the noted keywords in its title tag. This approach is a little more focused than simply looking for all pages with a certain set of keywords because the keywords might just be there in passing, as a part of an article, and not something the site is intentionally trying to target. If they keywords are found in the title tag then there is a better chance its reason for being is intentional.

Glance over the top ranked pages to see if they are using the keyword phrases in their page page copy, page headers, “alt” attributes, and so on. If they are then you can safely assume that it is an optimized Web site. The more sites you find with these elements, the greater your competition and vice versa. To dig even deeper you can compare your site’s link popularity against competing sites as another weight because link popularity influences rankings, which further indicates the competitive landscape for a particular keyword phrase. Take your keyword list, which is sorted by relevancy, and then compare it to the anticipated competition to determine whether or not a keyword phrase is good to target.

You can choose to keep it basic while you are learning the ropes, but as you become more familiar you will want to be more critical in selecting your keywords to boost your performance in the search engines. The more knowledge you are armed with, the better prepared you will be to optimize your Web site.

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when refining your keywords master list:

Plural and Singular Keywords - Some people argue using just the plural version of a keyword and others say it is good to use both. Is your target market looking for both? As an example, some people might search for ‘game’ while others might search for ‘games.’ Google matches exactly what the user searches for so it is important to use both where possible.

Using the Names of your Competitors – There is often the question as to whether to include your competitor’s name in your keywords. This follows the premise that if someone searches for them, they will find you as well. Never include a competitor’s name in your keywords. Due to the fact that several of the search engines read only small amount of content for keywords you would be losing vital space to include keywords that describe or even name a competitor and competing products or services. In addition, there have been recent legal battles regarding the use of competitors’ names within one’s keywords.

Common Misspellings of Words – There are many words that people misspell on a frequent basis. The question here is do you include those misspelled keywords in your site or not? Sure, people are searching for them and they would bring traffic to your site, but on the other hand who would really want to deal with a company that is incapable of spelling the names of the products and services sold on its Web site? This is a touchy subject and I would make note of the misspelled keywords in your master list so that you have a record of them, but I would shy away from using them on your Web site.

Case Sensitivity – Some search engines are not case sensitive while others are. Regardless, most people search in lower case and to keep this process simple you should record your original keyword master list using lowercase for now. Once you get into finalizing your keyword list you might notice that people are actually searching for the proper spelling of a word and not the lowercase version, in which case you would reflect the changes in your keyword list.

Stop and Filter Words – Filter words are words search engines simply ignore during searches. Stop words are extremely common words that search engines use as triggers to stop grabbing content on a given page, such as ‘and,’ ‘a,’ and ‘the.’ Some search engines view stop words and filter words as the same thing, but you need only remember one thing - search engines bypass these words to save time as they are not considered to add any value to the search. It is best to try and avoid using stop words where possible in your keyword phrases.

You can identify stop words by going to a search engine and entering the word you want to test into the search field. Run the search and if no results are returned that you most likely have yourself a stop word, but if there are results returned then it is a not a stop word for that particular search engine. Here is a sample list of some of the more common stop words on record from a list compiled by Search Engine World:

a
ii
about
above
according
across
39
actually
ad
adj
ae
af
after
afterwards
ag
again
against
ai
al
all
almost
alone
along
already
also
although
always
am
among
amongst
an
and
another
any
anyhow
anyone
anything
anywhere
ao
aq
ar
are
aren
aren't
around
arpa
as
at
au
aw
az
b
ba
bb
bd
be
became
because
become
becomes
becoming
been
before
beforehand
begin
beginning
behind
being
below
beside
besides
between
beyond
bf
bg
bh
bi
billion
bj
bm
bn
bo
both
br
bs
bt
but
buy
bv
bw
by
bz
c
ca
can
can't
cannot
caption
cc
cd
cf
cg
ch
ci
ck
cl
click
cm
cn
co
co.
com
copy
could
couldn
couldn't
cr
cs
cu
cv
cx
cy
cz
d
de
did
didn
didn't
dj
dk
dm
do
does
doesn
doesn't
don
don't
down
during
dz
e
each
ec
edu
ee
eg
eh
eight
eighty
either
else
elsewhere
end
ending
enough
er
es
et
etc
even
ever
every
everyone
everything
everywhere
except
f
few
fi
fifty
find
first
five
fj
fk
fm
fo
for
former
formerly
forty
found
four
fr
free
from
further
fx
g
ga
gb
gd
ge
get
gf
gg
gh
gi
gl
gm
gmt
gn
go
gov
gp
gq
gr
gs
gt
gu
gw
gy
h
had
has
hasn
hasn't
have
haven
haven't
he
he'd
he'll
he's
help
hence
her
here
here's
hereafter
hereby
herein
hereupon
hers
herself
him
himself
his
hk
hm
hn
home
homepage
how
however
hr
ht
htm
html
http
hu
hundred

i
i'd
i'll
i'm
i've
i.e.
id
ie
if
il
im
in
inc
inc.
indeed
information
instead
int
into
io
iq
ir
is
isn
isn't
it
it's
its
itself
j
je
jm
jo
join
jp
k
ke
kg
kh
ki
km
kn
kp
kr
kw
ky
kz
l
la
last
later
latter
lb
lc
least
less
let
let's
li
like
likely
lk
ll
lr
ls
lt
ltd
lu
lv
ly
m
ma
made
make
makes
many
maybe
mc
md
me
meantime
meanwhile
mg
mh
microsoft
might
mil
million
miss
mk
ml
mm
mn
mo
more
moreover
most
mostly
mp
mq
mr
mrs
ms
msie
mt
mu
much
must
mv
mw
mx
my
myself
mz
n
na
namely
nc
ne
neither
net
netscape
never
nevertheless
new
next
nf
ng
ni
nine
ninety
nl
no
nobody
none
nonetheless
noone
nor
not
nothing
now
nowhere
np
nr
nu
nz
o
of
off
often
om
on
once
one
one's
only
onto
or
org
other
others
otherwise
our
ours
ourselves
out
over
overall
own
p
pa
page
pe
per
perhaps
pf
pg
ph
pk
pl
pm
pn
pr
pt
pw
py
q
qa
r
rather
re
recent
recently
reserved
ring
ro
ru
rw
s
sa
same
sb
sc
sd
se
seem
seemed
seeming
seems
seven
seventy
several
sg
sh
she
she'd
she'll
she's
should
shouldn
shouldn't
si
since
site
six
sixty
sj
sk
sl
sm
sn
so
some
somehow
someone
something
sometime
sometimes
somewhere
sr
st
still
stop
su
such
sv
sy
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taking
tc
td
ten
text
tf
tg
test
th
than
that
that'll
that's
the
their
them
themselves
then
thence
there
there'll
there's
thereafter
thereby
therefore
therein
thereupon
these
they
they'd
they'll
they're
they've
thirty
this
those
though
thousand
three
through
throughout
thru
thus
tj
tk
tm
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to
together
too
toward
towards
tp
tr
trillion
tt
tv
tw
twenty
two
tz
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ua
ug
uk
um
under
unless
unlike
unlikely
until
up
upon
us
use
used
using
uy
uz
v
va
vc
ve
very
vg
vi
via
vn
vu
w
was
wasn
wasn't
we
we'd
we'll
we're
we've
web
webpage
website
welcome
well
were
weren
weren't
wf
what
what'll
what's
whatever
when
whence
whenever
where
whereafter
whereas
whereby
wherein
whereupon
wherever
whether
which
while
whither
who
who'd
who'll
who's
whoever
NULL
whole
whom
whomever
whose
why
will
with
within
without
won
won't
would
wouldn
wouldn't
ws
www
x
y
ye
yes
yet
you
you'd
you'll
you're
you've
your
yours
yourself
yourselves
yt
yu
z
za
zm
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10
z

Modifiers– Forget for a moment that WordTracker says a particular keyword phrase is not used a lot. A modifier is a keyword you add to your primary keyword phrase to give it a boost. Use modifiers to leverage your optimization performance regardless of what WordTracker says. For example, a modifier might be descriptive word or a geographic area, such as Atlanta. As a side note, local search is becoming increasingly popular so if the local market plays a significant role in the success of your business then be sure to use geographic modifiers accordingly.

Multiple Word Keyword Phrases – 2 or 3 keyword phrases perform better than single keywords. According to OneStat.com people tend to use 2 and 3 word phrases when performing a search online. The number of words used in a search phrase in order of popularity follows:

· 2 words – 32.58%
· 3 words – 25.61%
· 1 word – 19.02%
· 4 words – 12.83%
· 5 words – 5.64%
· 6 words – 2.32%
· 7 words – 0.98%

Not only are multiple keyword phrases used more often by searchers, but it also enables you to be more descriptive in your keyword phrases. Use multiple word keyword phrases when optimizing your Web site!

You should now have a good understanding of how to pick the right keywords for your Web site. In the next issue we will continue on the topic of Search Engine Optimization to cover how and where to apply keywords on your Web site.

_________________________________________________________


Tools & Resources

For a refresher or if you missed the first two newsletters in the Search Engine Optimization series you can view them in the archive on by Web site at:

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 1
http://www.susansweeney.com/newsletter/hottopicvolume2issue7.php


Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 2
http://www.susansweeney.com/newsletter/hottopicvolume2issue8.php

Link popularity is a closely related topic and I advise you to review the article on my Web site at:

Link Popularity Tips
http://www.susansweeney.com/newsletter/hottopicvolume2issue4.php

There are other tools, but this should give you a great start!

Visit my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com