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Search Engine Optimization – Keyword Primer

Choosing your keywords is important.

Generating traffic from users who are actually looking for your products & services is just as important as getting your site listed on search engines. But, how do you really know if you’re optimizing your pages for keywords that web surfers are looking for? With some planning, your chosen keywords can generate positive traffic to your website.

The terms that you use to describe what you do or the products or services that you offer may be very different than the terms your customers or audience might use. In order to generate positive traffic to your website from users who are actually looking for you, your products or your services, you need to think like your audience.

It is important that, when developing keywords, you change your point of view from the person selling the product or service to that of the potential customer.

When generating your list of keywords and phrases, it is important to lean toward the specific rather than generic.

More generic phrases may be popular searches, but they also have a lot of competition. If you do a search on Google for “women’s clothing”, you’ll find it returns over 87 million results for that phrase. While successfully optimizing for this type of phrase may gain you a lot of traffic, achieving a top ranking for this phrase will prove extremely difficult.

An example of a more useful “niche phrase” would be “women’s sweaters.” The benefit of this more specific phrase is that it’s both a popular search phrase and it has less competition – approximately 8½ million pages on Google. An even better niche phrase might be “women’s wool sweaters” which returns just over 2 million results in Google. These niche phrases have much less competitive than the 87 million results returned for “women’s clothing!”

Consider regional or geographical keywords. If you cater to a particular region, your keyword phrases could also contain the name of the city, region, or state. Combined with a more general keyword, this should increase the likelihood of your site being found in a regional search.

Advantages of targeting relatively popular niche keywords:

  • Niche keywords can produce a flow of positive traffic if you’re careful to pick niche phrases with popularity.

  • Achieving a top ranking should be easier with a niche keyword phrase versus a very broad, highly popular phrase.

  • Niche keywords can save you time in the long run. In the same amount of time you could spend trying to achieve a single top ranking for your industry’s most popular phrase, you could achieve top rankings on many other niche phrases.

  • Because users searching with niche phrases have a better idea of what they want, if they find it on your site, then your chances for a sale are greater.

How can you come up with your initial list of keywords? You could start by examining the content on successful web sites (those with good search engine rankings) or on your competition’s web sites to see what phrases they consider important. While this might be a good place to start, there is no guarantee that any other site is targeting the best keywords for your site.

You could ask your current customers how they search. You could also consult with your thesaurus for synonyms and related phrases and correlate these to popularity and competition.

Once you come up with an initial keyword list, you then need to check the keywords against corresponding popularity and competition factors.

Charlotte’s Web Studios can do this for you. We can generate lists of popular keywords, with the ability to drill down to many more. Our reports generate statistics on the popularity of each keyword as well as the amount of competition for the keyword, so you will have the best chance of gaining top rankings.

One thing to avoid when choosing keywords is using common words like “the” and “and”. Search engine spiders have been programmed to ignore these words because of their frequent use. Do not use these words or even combine common words with your keyword.

It is important to work to drive positive traffic to your site; don’t choose keywords just for traffic’s sake. The phrases you target should be relevant to what you have to sell, or the services that you provide. It must also be applicable to what you have to offer on the specific page you are optimizing.

Remember that keywords can have multiple meanings. When you select more targeted keyword phrases, there is a much higher likelihood that you have focused in on exactly the right audience.

Attaining high organic (non-paid) search engine rankings doesn’t happen overnight. It is important to develop a smart, well rounded, long term marketing plan for your site in order for your site to rise in the search engine organic rankings. It takes time and effort to be viewed as more relevant than the sites that are already online in the free, high ranking positions.

How do you know what people are looking for on your pages or how they found you? Monitor your site statistics regularly and adjust your keywords accordingly. Charlotte’s Web Studios’ site statistics outline in user-friendly data charts what phrases & keywords people used in search engines to find your website. It is a valuable tool for tracking how users are finding your site and how they use your site.

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