Choosing Keywords
(Extremely Important!)

      Target the wrong keywords and all your efforts will be in vain.  Choose the right keywords, and you'll see your traffic skyrocket.  Therefore, think long and hard on what keywords people are likely to use to find you. 

     Have you ever heard from someone who attained a top 10 position in a major search engine and the person was elated at how much new traffic flooded into his or her Web site.  Sure - you'd expect them to be happy with such an outcome, right?  But sometimes you hear from someone else who also achieved a top 10 ranking but they become disappointed when just a handful of visitors show up.  How can two people achieve high rankings and have such markedly different outcomes?  Simple.  The person in the first example selected a keyword or phrase that many people are searching on, and the second did not!

     The question to ask yourself is how do you really know if you're optimizing your pages for keywords that Web surfers are looking for?  There are several good techniques you can apply to determine what people might be searching for:

a) Put yourself in their shoes and brainstorm.

b) See what keywords your competitors are targeting to spur new ideas.

c) Organize and focus your keywords into short phrases, etc.

      However, the best way is to stop guessing and actually SEE what people are searching for.  That's why we've set up a new, free service called the Keyword Generator.  Using our new Keyword Generator, you can enter the word "travel" and find the top 20 or more phrases that were queried in the Goto.com search engine last month that include the word "travel."  Better yet, the service will rank the phrases by the number of times the keyword/phrase was queried!

      Here's the strategy we recommend:

1. Brainstorm on what general words apply to your industry and list them  
            all  out in a word processor or on paper.

2. Next, conduct a search for a few of them on a major search engine and then travel to the sites you find in that search. 

3. View the HTML source code for the page and write down the keywords used in the Meta tags and any you see on the visible page.  You'll quickly find a variety of keywords you hadn't considered before.  This does not mean these are the best keywords to target, but it can help you in your brainstorming process.

 IMPORTANT:  Make sure you only write down words and phrases that specifically apply to YOUR business!  You don't want to waste time targeting keywords that will not bring you high quality leads.

4. At this stage, most people would start GUESSING what keywords and phrases people are most likely to search on. Don't guess.  Learn the most popular combinations by taking the individual words and submitting them to the keyword generator. Click on the logo below for a free download of the WordTracker program to help you choose the correct key words.
If you use the keyword generator, you'll soon have a list of dozens, if not hundreds of keyword phrases you could target on all of the search engines.   The service illustrates what we've told customers for years: not everyone is competing for the exact same keywords!  There are literally 1000's of opportunities available for any business.  Find YOUR niche, make sure it's one that people are looking for, then pursue it!

Bonus Tip: Some of the keywords are going to be much more competitive than others.  For example, ranking well on the single word "travel" will be much more difficult than ranking in the top 10 for "Caribbean cruises." Remember that single keywords usually return the least targeted leads.  If someone is searching on just plain old "travel" are they: 

a. Helping their child with a paper on some aspect of "travel"

b. Looking for the "travel channel"

c. Looking to plan a vacation cruise?

d. Day dreaming about time travel?

e. Looking for driving directions for their travel across the country?

f. Looking for a travel club such as AAA?

g. Looking for the perfect backpack or hiking supplies for a travel expedition?

         If you own a travel agency that specialized in vacation cruises and optimized your site for the single keyword "travel," only a limited number of the people identified in the example above would be qualified prospects.  You'd find a great number of search engine referrals to your site if you attained a good ranking on the keyword, but many of them would select the "back" button in their browsers, turn around and effectively walk out of your store!  That's not the outcome you'd be looking for.  When you target longer keyword phrases there is a much higher likelihood that you have focused in on exactly the right prospects.  It's the difference between attracting actual buyers versus tire kickers. 

     The best thing to do is to target multi-word keyword phrases that give you the highest quality leads.  For example, we sell software, but we don't waste our efforts trying to rank #1 on the word software.  That's just too general, not to mention too competitive.

      Ideally, you will want to target keyword phrases that are queried with some frequency, that are specific to your Website, but less competitive.  How can you tell if a keyword/phrase is highly competitive?  One approach would be to prepare a WebPosition Gold Reporter (rank checking) mission.  Add your list of keyword phrase "suspects" and start the rank checking mission.  View WebPosition Gold's "Detail Report" - a report shows the actual search matches to a keyword query.  Are the Web sites that appear near the top of the search results your biggest competitors or just random junk without any clear focus?  The keyword phrase queries where the search matches appear to be "random Web junk," may be the ones that are not yet being fought over (i.e., maybe it will be easier to achieve high rankings on these). 

     The easiest road to success is to target popular keywords that your competitors have overlooked.  You can click on the "Actual Results" link on the WebPosition Gold Detail Report and view the total quantity of matching Web sites reported for that keyword phrase.  If you are considering two phrases, each one appears to be queried with roughly the same frequency, but one returns 10,000 matches and another that returns 100,000 matches, which one should you target first?  The one with the fewer matches of course!  That's because you'll be competing against fewer Web sites for the top spots!

     Also, just because a phrase returns 10,000 matches does NOT mean you have only a 1 in 10,000 chance of ranking number one.  If you simply submitted your page and did nothing else, then yes, your odds of ranking near the top are low.  Discovering the "magic" quantity of keywords and tags to rank in the top 10 is also next to impossible to do by hand.  That's why we created WebPosition Gold.  To simplify search engine positioning and to give you a competitive advantage.

     When you use WebPosition's "Page Critic" feature to analyze the keyword concentrations on your Web pages (and by the way, less than 1% of all Webmasters currently own a copy) you have GREATLY improved your odds of success!  In fact, we are so confident that WebPosition Gold will work for you - for your Web site - on your search phrases, that we GUARANTEE your success in the first 45 days or we'll refund 100% of your money.

      We know that the majority of Web site owners are targeting the WRONG keywords.  How did we reach this conclusion?  Easy.  A recent study showed that only 34% of Web site owners knew enough to include a simple keyword meta tag on their Web page!  Therefore, just by adding a keyword meta tag AND properly optimizing the rest of the page for your keywords, you'll be doing far more than the 66% of Web site owners have ever done!  If you take the time to target the RIGHT keywords, we're guessing you'll be ahead of 99% of the world and you'll be generating more traffic with less effort.  Work smarter, not harder is what we always say!

More:

Entering Keywords

Picking the best keywords/phrases

Location, Location, Location!!  The Art And Skill of Being Regional.

Entering Keywords

     In the WebPosition keyword box in Reporter, type in the keywords or keyword phrases EXACTLY like you think the user would enter it in one of the search engines to find a site like yours.  If you wish to simulate the user doing an exact phrase search, surround the phrase with a double quote (") character.   Place each search on a separate line. 

Therefore, 10 lines will perform 10 different searches across each search engine you select on the Engine tab.   Doing this by hand would be next to impossible, but WebPosition makes it very easy.  (Note:  In the Page Generator, you will type each keyword or phrase into a separate box). 

     For example, you could tell WebPosition to search on both: Boston real estate and "Boston real estate"

     You'll find that you'll likely rank differently on each depending on the design of your page and the engine.  Most search engines will find the exact phrase search on your page ONLY if the words "Boston real estate" appear on your page with those three words all together and the case of the words are the same.  Therefore when designing pages, it's important to integrate the most likely phrases people would use to find a site like yours into your page's text.  Without the quotes, most engines will simply look for a page that happens to contain all of the above words and put the so-called best matching or most "relevant" pages at the top of the list.   Which will the user type?  The more experienced Web users will try to do an exact phrase search first, then they will try an inexact search if that doesn't yield any good results.  Novice users may not know to use the exact phrase option unless the search engine defaults to that.   Advice: Monitor your positions for both.

Picking the best keywords/phrases

     There are several things to consider when choosing keywords and phrases.  The most important is to put yourself in the shoes of the type of visitor you want to attract.  Make a list of what kind of keywords or phrases they are likely to search on.  This requires you to separate yourself from your product, service or web site and think like the average Joe who might want to find you, but knows nothing about your site. 

     It's a good idea to ask friends or co-workers what they might type in to find your site, or even have them go to a search engine and tell them to try and find information on the topic your site happens to cover.  Watch what words and phrases they use.

     Important things you want to remember when picking keywords to target:

1. CONCEPTS:  Include concept keywords such as "accounting software" if that's what you sell, but also try and be specific enough so that it's not too broad.

2. BRANDS:  Include more specific brand names such as Quicken.  If you offer services, then try to use service brand names when possible.  Legally, you should put the reserved symbol or trademark symbol after the names when mentioning them on the page. 

3. COMPANY NAMES:  If you offer products from a well-known company, include that company's name in your keywords.

4. YOUR NAME:  Unless you are a well known company/organization such as Microsoft or Hewlett Packard, it's generally less important to emphasize your name as a keyword.  You should, however, setup an "About My Company/Organization" page that does repeat your name many times so that someone searching for you will find that page.

5. COMMON WORDS: There are now so many pages and words indexed on the Web, that a search on many common words such as "software" or "Internet" are going to be completely ignored for that search by the engine!  Therefore, most people have to search on two or three word phrases to find what they're looking for.  Trying to be listed well on every phrase/keyword combination they might search for is next to impossible.  However, WebPosition lets you target and monitor many more keywords than could be managed by hand.

6. TEST KEYWORDS:  Ideally, before you even start a new Internet Web site (or even after), you should see how many other pages match the keywords people would likely search on to find you.  The fewer matches found for your search, the easier it will be to get your name up near the top.  Also  important are the quality of the matches that appear.  Your keywords may only bring up a lot of garbage that your potential audience would have no interest in anyway.  Therefore, with the proper strategy, you could be the only site of your type that appears near the top of that search.  WebPosition's detail report will let you see what competing pages/sites you are up against.  There may be phrases that people are likely to search for which are much easier to achieve good rankings on than more common words and phrases.  This strategy can gain you unexpected traffic.

7. PHRASES:  As mentioned, many people will likely use multiple-word phrases to find you--particularly when single words do not provide adequate scope for the search.  The syntax for this varies by engine, but phrases are generally searched for surrounded by quotes.  Therefore, make a list of 2-3 word phrases people are likely to search for.  When placing keywords on your page, make sure you always include them in a phrase that the visitor might use. 

Keep the important words chained together in sentences on the page.  If the user searches on "KEYWORD1" AND "KEYWORD2" then you only have to have the words in the same proximity on the page.  If, however, they search on "KEYWORD1 KEYWORD2" along with the surrounding quotes, then the words MUST be together on your page, preferably multiple times to find a match.  Therefore, it's a good idea to create a Mission to monitor your position for both "baseball cards" and just baseball cards as an example. 

Optimizing your page for phrase searches can do wonders in helping people find you.  However, because of the many combinations it's traditionally been an impossible task without a tool like WebPosition to help you monitor your results.  It's often difficult to rank well for popular keywords.  However, few sites make serious efforts to optimize for common phrases leaving you with great opportunities to increase your traffic!

Sidenote: Several Web site log programs will now tell you which keyword/phrase a user typed in a search engine to find you.  This is often helpful in understanding which positions are pulling the best.

8. CASE-SENSITIVITY:  If the user types the word Baseball then most engines will search for "Baseball" with an uppercase "B" ONLY.  If your page has only "baseball" in it, you'll not be found!  On the other hand, if they search for "baseball" and your page has "Baseball" on it, most engines default to finding words of any case when the keyword used was in all lower case.  Therefore, it pays to make sure you have at least some of the keywords in uppercase or starting with an uppercase letter if the user might search that way.  The easiest place to do this is in the title of the page, in meta tags, and at the beginning of sentences.

9. BAD SPELLING CAN BE GOOD:  Search engines don't have spell checkers.  Also, product names can have slight variations.  For example, MicroLogic has a product called Info Select.  However, people could easily search on MicroLogic, Micro Logic, Infoselect, or Info Select.  Look for obvious mistakes people are likely to make and then incorporate some of them into one of your pages in some way to pick up traffic you'd otherwise miss. 

10.  TRAFFIC ANALYZER counts how many people found you on each search engine and what keyword(s) they used to find you!  This can be very helpful in determining what keywords people are definitely using to find your site.  Unfortunately, it won't tell you what keywords people are searching on and NOT finding you, but it's a start and you'll be able to see certain words you hadn't realized people would use to look for you.  You can then optimize for those keywords on other search engines.   In addition, you can add them to the Reporter to make sure you maintain good rankings on those words.

 Location, Location, Location!! The Art and Skill of Being Regional

     Most people visit a search engine when they are looking for a product or service of some sort and conduct a search on a rather broad topic.  Someone looking to buy a house in their own town might type the keywords, "real estate" into the search engine.  When they are returned a list of Web sites starting in Alaska showing all the real estate in the world, over 300,000 sites from Alaska to Wyoming, they quickly see the value of narrowing their query.  The next search they conduct will be something like, "Virginia Real Estate."  This will give them something more manageable.

     What this should tell any Web marketer promoting any product of regional significance is to "regionalize" their site description and keywords where appropriate.  A Realtor client of mine learned that by keeping his site title and description stuffed with "VA" and "Virginia" he ranked well above other similar sites who didn't pay attention to this technique.