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.
reviewing your keyword list you need to consider
which keywords are vital to your objectives,
which keywords are popular enough to generate reasonable,
sustainable traffic and
which keywords do not have so much competition that
it would be counterproductive from a time and effort standpoint to target
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:
– 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
– 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 2
Link popularity is a closely related topic and I advise you to review the article on my Web site at:
Link Popularity Tips
There are other tools, but
this should give you a great start!
Visit my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com