Choosing the right keywords is half the battle in search engine optimization. If you pick words out of your business plan and figure everyone is searching for “competitive global communication solutions,” when what you’re offering is “affordable long distance,” your website will be a lonely place indeed. Always use common sense keywords that people actually understand and would search for.
Research your keywords by talking with employees, customers, vendors, family members and friends. Monitor your web stats to identify terms actually used to find your site. Finally, spend some time with keyword popularity tools such as Google AdWords’ Keyword Tool to finalize your best keyphrases.
When you have the final draft of your list, try searching for the keywords on it. Make notes on how many similar documents are found and for which competitors before optimizing your pages for the most relevant keywords. Single keywords are very difficult – if not impossible – to optimize for, so your best bet to increase search engine positioning is to use keyphrases like “business voicemail” over a single keyword such as “voicemail.”
How to Use the Right Keywords
Finding the right keywords is only half the battle in search engine optimization. To win the war, you also have to spread those keywords throughout your site, and across the Internet. Just as bar patrons don’t like watered down drinks, search engines don’t like watered down keywords. So if you skimp on keywords, you reduce your chances of ranking well. Search engines actually figure out the topic of each web page and each website, and give more weight to the keywords used on your site more prominently. They do this by means of mathematical algorithms.
Where to Place Your Keywords
Just like modifiers, keywords can also be misplaced. In order to be effective, keywords need to be repeated in the right number of places. Search engines pay closer attention to certain parts of your web page. Words in these sections are considered more important than other words. This is called “keyword prominence.” Whenever possible, put keywords in the following places:
Titles and Meta Tags: It’s important to place your keywords in the title, if that particular page discusses the keyword in question. Some search engines also pay extra attention to words in description and keyword meta tags.
Headings: The (H1 – H6>) tags give search engines, not to mention visitors, a good idea of what the main topic of your page is.
Text Top: The words at the top of your page, at the beginning of paragraphs and at the start of your sentences are generally seen as more important. Make sure that keywords are among the first words to appear. Making keywords bold, larger, or otherwise highlighting them may also help to emphasize their importance.
Hyperlinks: Use your keywords prominently in your hyperlinks, whenever it would be appropriate for the user.
Alt text: This is considered important to some search engines.
URL Text: Including keywords in your domain and page names can boost your rankings.