A Guide to Keyword Optimization

Whenever the typical person needs to find something on the Web, he or she will almost always go to one of the top search engines and run a search. Then, he or she will have a look at the first 30 search results returned (usually the first three pages of results), hardly ever looking beyond that. If nothing looks appealing, they will run another search using a variation of the keywords used on the first search. Again, they will look at the first 30 results. If they still find nothing of interest, they may switch to a different search engine and repeat the process.

This, believe it or not, is the typical Web navigation behavior of at least 86 percent of all the 110 million people who use the Web. The question is, does your Web site capitalize on this behavior? If the answer is yes, then no matter what people search for that has any relation at all to your products, they should find you. That translates to a very high amount of daily traffic to your site. Is this happening for you?

We bet the answer is no. Very few Web sites really capitalize on this behavior. However, you can learn how to do so. For this tutorial, we shall assume that you’re in the business of selling wedding gowns. You have a Web site that does a good job of displaying your wedding gowns, but like most other Web site owners, your traffic is really low and clients are simply not finding you. You’ve done everything you can think of, but your pages hardly come up on the search engines. What next? Well, get ready to learn one of the most effective online marketing strategies.

Gather Your Keywords
We know that the person will think of a keyword or phrase and type that into a search form on an engine. That is his or her first step, and so it should be ours. This is a very important step. Get a piece of paper or open up your text editor and keep writing all the keywords and phrases that you think of as you go through the steps outlined below.

Selecting the right keywords or keyword phrases will skyrocket your traffic. Research has shown that most people use phrases with two-to-three keywords when searching. People have come to learn that just typing in one keyword in a search will get them thousands of records that they don’t need. Therefore, they combine two or three keywords in their searches.

Your list should end up having about 50 or more keywords and phrases. You must write down every word that a person might use to look for your site plus words they might use to look for other related information or products. This is no easy task, and it involves some research and a fair bit of thought.

Remember, the thousands of people out there looking for wedding gowns might not all think alike, look for wedding gowns directly, or even realize at the time that they can get wedding gowns on the Internet. To get a good list, here are the steps that you should go through. Keep your pen and paper handy so that you keep writing as you go along each step.

1. Brainstorm. Sit and write down whatever keywords or phrases come to mind. Then look at your list and see what other word combinations you can create from the keywords you’ve already written down.

2. Look at your products and services and see what words relating to them pop up in your mind. Write the names of each product or service that you deal in. These product names will also be part of your keyword list.

3. Ask your family, associates, clients and friends what words and phrases they would most likely use to search for products or services like yours.

4. See what keywords your competitors use. Look at the keywords featured on their pages and in their meta tags.

5. Be both specific and general in scope. Think of words that also describe things related to what your site is about. For example, if you sell wedding gowns, also think about other things related to weddings, such as honeymoon, bridal registry, wedding rings, engagements, other wedding accessories and services.

The idea here is to capture people who may be looking for other things related to weddings, whether they’re looking for wedding gowns or not at the time. Chances are that someone looking for any wedding related information will also be interested in knowing about wedding gowns. Get the idea? This is a powerful way of getting more targeted traffic to your site.

6. Don’t forget about misspelled words. People often misspell words when they enter their search terms. Include commonly misspelled words or phrases as part of your list.

7. If your site deals with a particular region, remember to include that in your keyword list. e.g., ‘Los Angeles wedding gowns’ if you deal in wedding gowns within Los Angeles. A lot of people will search for wedding gowns, get a big list of returned search results, and decide to add the words “Los Angeles” (or whatever else they may be interested in) to get more specific search results.

8. Use the long and short form of words, e.g. consult, consulting and consultants.

9. Do not spam. Don’t use keywords that have nothing to do with your Web site. Don’t list the keyword “sex” or “free pics” just because they’re frequently searched for if they don’t have anything to do with your Web site. You’ll only get traffic that is of no use to you because surfers will come to your site and leave angrily when they realize you just cheated them. Also, search engines are on the lookout for such deceitful practices and can sometimes ban your pages for spamming. As long as you stick with keywords related to your core business, you will be fine, but don’t go out of line.

10. Now it’s time for some research. You need to look at what people are actually searching for on the various engines and get more phrases for your list. When doing your research, remember steps number 5, 6, and 8 above — people often misspell words, they use different word forms and they may be looking for a lot of different stuff all related to your products. Following these steps will help you improve your keywords and get boost your rankings.

Adapted from webreference.com.

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