The Key to it all: How keywords drive Internet Marketing
What are keywords?
Keywords are the human language terms that people enter into a search engine when they are looking for something. The entire science of information retrieval and companies like Google are based on the existence of keywords. As such, keywords are the foundation of all search activities on the internet both for organic searches and Pay Per Click. They can be as short as one simple word, for example, Keyword = “magic”, or they can be multi-word phrases such as Keyword = “where can I find a magic wand.” As people get more and more used to using search engines the value and importance of having your website associated with and ranked favorably for lots of key words increases. Getting the right keywords requires good knowledge of your business, technical expertise and skill mixed with the hard work that is required to do Keyword Research.
The exact use and importance of keywords is always shifting, both as the search engine algorithms are updated, and as humans use them differently. For example, queries are gradually getting longer and more specific. In 2010 over 50% of queries were 4 words or longer. User familiarity and understanding of what works best are shifting searches from simple one or two word searches ie. “dog house” with over 60 Million possible matches to more specific and detailed, natural-language queries such as, “dog house vendors inSeattle” which is more specific and has only 3 Million possible matches. If you used the longer key word phrase you would have less people looking for you, but it would be far more likely that your site is of interest to them and that they are qualified potential customers. The fascinating thing is that your site is ranking for new keywords every day, and some of them are a surprise even to the search engine companies.
How do search engines use keywords?
When you search on-line, the search engine goes to work and tries to find sites whose keywords closely match what you entered in as a search term. This is called relevancy and it is influenced by many factors, such as the pages popularity, number of links to the page, the pages contents, format, your location etc… Relevance is one of the key things you can influence by picking good key words and using them properly in your website. The second thing the engine tries to do is rank the relevant results from best predicted fit to worst. This is no easy matter when there can be literally millions of pages for some search queries. Thus even if your site is relevant, if it ranks poorly, no one will ever find you. There are literally hundreds of factors that influence rankings and they are beyond the scope of this post, but suffice to say, if you get the keywords wrong to start with, or use them inappropriately, not much else matters. Search Engine Optimization is the art and science (and yes, it’s both) of taking a page built to be meaningful to a human (they are the ones who buy your stuff), and making it “attractive” to search engine robots, who are the objects who decide how your page ranks amongst millions of others. Too much robot optimization and the humans are turned off, too little and the robots don’t think your page is important enough to share with the humans.
What makes a good keyword?
The most important thing is make sure that your keywords have relevance to the content of your page and obviously to what users are trying to find. Perhaps it is too obvious, but if you want your webpage to be listed under search results for “giraffe” then you better make sure the word “giraffe” is on that page, used appropriately and in a manner indexable by the various search engine robots.
How the word is used:
When you enter a search the search engine gets its first “idea” of what you are looking for from the specific words. The spelling (or misspelling), syntax, etc. of keywords and key word phrases is also weighed. For example, “house dog”, is different than a “dog house” and yet maybe both appear in your pages contents. You need to make sure that the term you want to be found under; for the sake of this example, let’s say “dog house”, because your business is a pet supply business, appears prominently in titles, text and meta data. Then you can be comfortable that the Robot can identify what search term you want to be found under, “dog house” and not “house dog”. While there is no ideal formula for maximizing keyword relevance, most experts would agree that for each page you want to optimize, the following would serve as a good start in terms of where and when to use your selected keywords.
- At least once in the Title Tag
- Once in the H1 Header
- At least three times in the body copy. More as long as it does not affect readability.
- At least once in BOLD somewhere on the page
- In the page URL if possible
- In theMetaTag Description
- In the attribute of an Image if you have one on your page.
How can you pick good keywords? (do the work or pay someone to – don’t skimp here)
As you think about keywords, consider the following:
- Think about who you are trying to reach. Who wants what you have? Who will use your services, or buy your products? Why? Figure this out and then target them with keywords. For example, people whose own pets will need pet food, if they own dogs, dog food. How specifically do you want to target your keywords? Keyword = pet food or Keyword = Dog food or Puppy Food You can of course use both but more than about 3 -4 key words per web page is not recommended.
- Think of common variations of your keywords People will search for your products and services (and by extension your website) using all sorts of keywords. Making your site easy to find means including misspelled, capitalized and plural keywords. Always include the longer forms of keywords too. For example, SEO companies, SEO Company and Search Engine Optimization company are all possible variations.
- Avoid “weak” and “filler” keywords Do not use “stop words” — particles like “and” and “the” and common words like “Internet.” Remember, the more specific and relevant your keywords are, the better the chance that people who find your site through search engines will actually benefit from its content. If they come to your site, stay and look around it increases your chance of making them a customer and it improves the relevancy score the search engines will give you thus helping you move up the rankings.
- Pick your battles carefully When doing key word research, look at both how frequently a keyword is used in searches and how competitive it is. Unless you are willing to devote significant resources to getting found under a specific term, do not target highly competitive Keywords. Remember better to be found on the first page of the search results for a few terms than found on the 10th page for many. If the person searching never sees your results then you are not getting their click!
- Try local variations if appropriate If you are marketing to a specific region and want to be found in searches associated with that region they include regional information in your keywords. For example, Search Engine Optimization Chicago, and Search Engine Optimization Boston if those are areas that you have offices and or wish to target your business to.
Next time around we will review how to Brain Storm and research Key words for your site and a few things to avoid.