Keywords – the words that a prospective client enters into search engines like Google when looking for something online – should be an integral part of your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy for online success. Understanding keywords and SEO strategy is vital if your goal is to achieve a high organic ranking in the search engines, and frankly, if you’re working online, then those high organic search rankings are your bread and butter.
How do you find which keywords are being used? The use of a good keyword research tool is essential. There are a number of paid keyword research tools available, but perhaps the most relied upon (and free) tool is Google’s keyword tool (www.adwords.google.com).
Once you have a keyword research tool at your disposal, simply type the word or phrase that you’re interested in learning more about. Keyword research will tell you how many searches are performed on that word or phrase on a daily, monthly, local or global level. Research can tell you which terms are most searched upon for your particular topic or whether there are phrases (long tail keywords) that are more frequently searched.
Armed with this information, your goal is to include these terms in the copy on your site. Be forewarned, however: It is imperative that the terms that you are adding to your site – the terms you want to rank for – are relevant to the material on the site.
In the not-too-distant past, keyword stuffing (loading keywords into your copy or onto your site indiscriminately) was a common practice designed to dupe the search engines into ranking a site highly. The thinking was that the greater the keyword saturation for a particular term, the more relevant the search engine “spiders” would believe your site to be, the higher your organic ranking. Keyword stuffing was one of a number of “black hat” marketing methods touted as an SEO miracle.
The search engines, however, caught on to this tactic and they changed the algorhythms that they use to determine whether a site is content-rich and relevant. Keyword stuffing today can cause your site to be de-indexed (or not show up at all) in the search engines. Smart SEO strategists use “white hat” marketing methods: clean, straight-forward marketing methods that include no subterfuge and that recognize that content is king.
So, how can you use keywords and SEO strategy to improve your site’s organic ranking in the search engines? For starters, make sure that your site provides relevant content, regardless of the type of site that you’re building. If you’re building sites like Squidoo Lenses or Hub Pages, make sure that you have a relevant keyword in the URL that you register, as well as in the titles, subtitles and content that you write for your site. If you’re given space for tags on these sites, include your relevant keywords there, too.
If you’re writing a blog post, you want your targeted keywords to show up in the URL as well, which means you want your keyword(s) in your post title. You may have to check, however, to ensure that your blog template recognizes this SEO strategy and incorporates your post title into the URL.
For example, some blog templates default to a numbered post URL like this: http://www.yourblog.com/?p=345. If that’s the case, you’ll wnat to go in under “settings” and then “permalinks” to set your preference. You want your post URL to appear with the title of the post included, for this is where your keyword will be found: http://www.youblog.com/targeted-keyword-blog-post-title.
For best results, you’ll also want to include your keyword(s) throughout your content, but particularly in the first sentence of the first paragraph of your post. In this way, you’ll ensure that your keyword appears in the meta description (the snippet of text included in the search results); the keyword(s) will appear in bold if your prospective client has used this exact keyword(s) in their search.
There is some disagreement on what the ideal keyword density should be when evaluating keywords and SEO strategy; the general consensus falls between 2% and 10%. This is easily accomplished with focus and an attention to detail.
What no one disputes, however, is the importance content plays. So, as you’re writing your copy and peppering it with your targeted keyword(s), be sure that you’re writing relevant content that is not so full of your keyword(s) that the writing feels forced. Ultimately, you’re writing for your reader and forced or unnatural copy, regardless of relevance, will turn your reader away. That’s an SEO strategy best avoided at all cost!