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Selecting Effective Keywords

Keywords are the words that people will think of when trying to describe your  type of product or service.

Selecting effective keywords should be the first step for anyone planning to build a high ranking Web site. After all, it makes no sense obtaining a good search engine placement for keywords that rarely will be used by anyone.

"Some people make  it to the top of search engines and get lots of traffic. Others do the same but get nothing. Why? Simple. The first group selected keywords that many people are  searching for, - while the second group did not!"

But how are you supposed to know what keywords to optimize for? How can you  figure out which keywords are the most popular among those looking to buy your product or read your site? What exactly are all those people typing into the  search box?

Understanding keywords

Before you start to brainstorm your list of keywords and keyword phrases, it is important to understand in general how people uses keywords 

Here is one place where you can "spy" on people as they enter  keywords into a real search engine: Meta Spy

Do you notice any patterns? One important thing to notice is that  most people don't just enter single keywords into the search box. They are using keyword phrases.

Instead of just searching for single keywords like "books", most people will search for keyword phrases like "search engine books", search engine optimization books" or "books about search engine placement".

This is important to understand when you select keywords for your  own site. Keyword combinations can be much more effective compared to single keywords.

Managing keyword phrases

Congratulations! You have managed to collect a long list of keywords related to the subject of your site, or the products you are selling. Now you must link  the keywords together and make keyword phrases.

Most people will be searching for two or three word phrases. The overall average search engine query is 2.1 words. Do not try targeting very general, single keywords. Those keywords will most likely not make it into a top  #10 search engine placement anyway.

If you have a list of keywords like: "search engine, meta tag, promotion,  software", try linking the keywords together like: "search engine software",  "search engine promotion", "meta tag software" etc. Combining the keywords into keyword phrases will make it  easier to rank well, and you will be targeting your visitors more effectively.

Example: Let us use my site as our example: Not everyone searching for keywords like "search engines" or "promotion" would be looking for a site like mine. In fact, most would probably be looking for a search engine, or perhaps an online advertising agency. Therefore, I will target the keyword phrase "search engine promotion" instead.

The more specific your keywords are, the better the chances that people who  search for them will actually benefit from your site's content. This is an important factor to consider when you are performing keyword analysis.

Throw your keywords away

Don't worry. You did not waste all your hard work coming up with keywords for  your site. We just have to find and throw away the ones nobody is searching  for.

  1. Do not worry about optimizing for ALL CAPS versions of your keywords. Most people are using lowercase only when searching, and most search engines will  treat uppercase and lowercase keywords the same.
  2. Misspelled keywords can be a waste of time, but there are exceptions to this rule. If you can find a popular misspelling, you have a very easily ranked keyword that will bring a lot of traffic.
  3. Superlatives are another group of keywords usually not suitable for our  purpose. Millions of competing pages are all claiming that their sites are  "best," "amazing," "fantastic," "awesome," etc. However, nobody actually  searches for such keywords. They are not suitable for keyword marketing.

And there is one more thing... "stop words". "These are common words that are  usually ignored by search engines (like: a, an, and, for, the, of, that, it, to, if, you, etc). If your keyword phrase contains "stop words", it will be  ignored.

How can you tell if a word is a stop word? Go to a search engine and search  for this particular keyword. If the search engine tells you "no document matches your query," (or something similar) you will know this is a stop word for that particular engine.

Put your keywords in a spreadsheet

You are almost done. If you have carefully followed all the steps outlined above you have managed to find a huge list of keywords for your site.  But chances are you still have too many keywords.

It's time for the final keyword optimization step.

Tip: Try to rank well for the most popular keywords, but do not  forget that sometimes the best gold is a little farther down the mineshaft. Do  not make the mistake of focusing exclusively on the most popular keywords. Less popular keywords often are much easier to rank, simply because few Webmasters  are targeting those words.

When selecting keywords the trick is finding the balance between keyword demand and keyword supply. A spreadsheet is an excellent tool for this:

Your keywords



(These numbers are not accurate - For illustration purposes  only)

flowers 1.000.000 100.000.000
cheap flowers 500.000 5.000
flower 500 1000

Enter all your selected keywords into the first column, one by one. In the next column, enter how many times that particular keyword has been searched for.  Then you can easily see what keywords are in highest demand (most popular). In the last column you must write down how many other Websites you will have to compete with for this keyword.

To figure out the supply of Web sites for a particular keyword, go to a  search engine like Google and perform a search for your keyword in quotes: "my keyword". The results will show exactly how many other sites are containing this keyword. This is the number of  sites you will have to compete with for a top position.

Now have a good look at your spreadsheet and try to spot any keywords in high  demand (lots of people are searching for those keywords), but in low supply (few  sites are containing the keywords). These are the keywords that most likely will  give you the best chance of success.




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