(Part 2 of 3) This is the continuation from Part 1: Introduction to SEO
If the material here gets too complicated, don’t Panic! We’re here to help. If you would like help understanding what’s in this article or to find what keywords you’re using then Let’s Talk!
Get the Keywords Right and You’re Gold!
At the heart of SEO are Keywords – the words and phrases people are likely to type into the Search Engines when looking for your products and services. If those keywords aren’t well placed in your website, then it’s unlikely that your site will show up in the search results.
Knowing what keywords you want to get good Search Engine rankings with is critical. Choose the wrong keywords and you’re selling ice to Alaska. Choose the right keywords and you’re selling water in the desert!
When you get to know what your best performing keywords are, you’ll want to guard their identify as highly-valued intellectual property!
Finding the Most Popular Keywords for Your Website
To find the right keywords, you need to do some detective work, starting with getting inside the mind of your target market. Here are two ways to discover your keywords:
- Common Sense. The simplest way to figure out what your keywords are is to put yourself in the shoes of your target market. What words and phrases do they use when they’re asking you about your products and services? Imagine what they might be typing into the search engines to look for your product or service.Often, I see people using their industry jargon in their Search Engine Optimization. The problem with that, is the consumers seldom use those words…speak in the language of your Customer!While this is a very easy way to get started, whatever keywords you come up with is just a guess. You’re guessing what people are typing into the search engines. Often times, your guess will be very accurate.
- Keyword Tools. If you want to move from guessing to something more scientific, you’ll want to use a good keyword tool. These tools will take your guess and will quantify it against their database of how frequently search terms get used. Even though the keyword tools will deliver a lot of impressive numbers, don’t be fooled. They aren’t 100% reliable because of how they get their data.The tools can be a bit complicated to use and the ones we recommend (check out Wordtracker, aff link) have a fee associated with them. However, they do offer invaluable clues in discovering your best keywords.
The best approach is to find a keyword tool that you like and use it with common sense. Once you have a set of keywords you want to perform well on and you’ve used them to SEO your website, then you need to TEST. Overtime, you will be able to find out which keywords perform the best for you, keeping some and dropping others.
Developing Your Site Around Keyword Themes
As you build your list of keywords, you’ll likely find that you can group your keywords into “themes”. Generally speaking, it’s better to have a specific keyword theme for each page instead of trying to put all your keywords on every page.
For example, if you are in the “handyman” business, you might have themes like: electrical, kitchen, bathroom, etc. For maximum SEO benefit, it would be good to build a page for each of these themes instead of having a single page that just lists your services.
TIP: When deciding what to blog, Facebook or Tweet about, think of your Keywords! Think of each post (especially on your articles and blogs) as a new themed page.
Where to Put Your Keywords
Now that you have your keywords and know what your keyword themed pages are, it’s time to incorporate them into the pages of your site. This step is what most people think of as SEO.
Keywords in Page Title
Not to be confused with the page heading, this is the title of the page that shows up in the top bar of your web browser:
You should keep the page title to 5 to 9 words, a maximum of 80 characters. Ideally, write it in such a way that it’ll grab attention when people see it in the Search Engine Results.
Description Meta Tag
Behind the scenes, there’s a special line that can be put into your web page’s code called the “Description meta tag”. The general consensus is that the Search Engines don’t use this for calculating your page ranking, but they do use it for displaying in the Search Engine Results. This is the wording that shows up directly under your page title.
Keywords in URL
Putting your keywords into your website link is a really great way to tell the Search Engines what your page is all about:
Keywords in Headings
A well structured website will use “Headings”. Behind the scenes, in code, these are called H1, H2, H3 and so on. The Heading1 tag (H1) would be the primary heading of the page. Heading2 (H2) would be main subtitles of the page. Heading3 (H3) would be subtitles under the H2 headings. If you look at this page, you’ll see it’s been segmented by these headings.
Keywords in Body Text
You want to make sure that you weave your keywords into the body text of the page. A great tip for making the keywords stand out more in the eyes of the Search Engines is to bold them where appropriate. Remember, you don’t want to create text that confuses your reader.
Keywords in Anchor Text
When you create hyperlinks in your web pages, try to write it in such a way that you are linking your keywords; this is given extra importance in the eyes of the Search Engines.
One Last Note About Finding & Using Your Most Popular Keywords
I often talk about SEO as being an on-going “cat and mouse game”. And it is. However, it’s possible to take SEO to an extreme which begins to take up inordinate amounts of time for little additional benefit. Remember these two points:
- Be Patient. Search Engines don’t automatically pick-up your changes; It takes time. Once you make a round of SEO changes, you need to wait (perhaps 3 weeks or more) to give the search engines times to find and digest your changes.
- Don’t sacrifice your visitors to the Search Engines. I’ve seen web pages that were so heavily optimized for the Search Engines, that the resulting page was a miserable read. Remember that the purpose of SEO is to get human eye-balls to your page.