Keywords can be considered a necessary evil when it comes to writing for the web. On one hand, you want to make sure that your content is appealing to search engines. It would be a mistake, though, to ignore the fact that you also need to have content that meets the needs of the humans who use the Internet as well.
Start By Considering Your Audience
When you are considering which keywords you will be using on your site, the first step is to think about who you want to visit it. Take some time to get a clear idea of who your target audience is. If you want them to find you online, you need to make sure that they keywords in your text are ones that they are likely to use.
Make a List of Possible Keywords
The next thing you need to do when choosing keywords for your site is to sit down and make a list of words that are relevant to the theme of your web site. Now isn’t the time to do a lot of self-editing; instead, go ahead and brainstorm. If it seems like something that fits, then add it to your list. You will have time go through and edit later on.
Use Tools to Analyze Keywords
Once you have a number of possible keywords, you need to find out which ones people are using to find content online. There are several tools that you can use to find out how popular a particular keyword or keyword combination is, such as:
Wordtracker is a free tool that allows users to input a keyword and get suggestions for keyword phrases, as well as how popular a particular keyword phrase is.
The Google Keyword Tool offers suggestions for words and phrases you enter into the search box on the page. The results also provide valuable information about how popular the search term is by providing statistics on how often local users used this term in the previous month. It also sets out how often the term was searched for globally.
Armed with this information, you can start planning your content around relevant keywords. Ideally, you will have a long list of keywords that you will be using for the different pages of your web site. You will want to use multiple keyword phrases throughout your site. There are many search terms that Internet users may use to find you online, and when you use several of them, you are increasing your chance of having your site come up in an online search.
Select Keywords for Your Site
Since you will be adding new content to your site regularly to drive traffic and help with your search engine ranking, you need to plan which keywords you will be using. It’s not uncommon to have a list of between 50-100 keywords and combinations to use.
You don’t have to think about how to use them all at once, though. You can write a web page around a single keyword phrase or two. Since you will be updating your content regularly to keep your readers’ interest and to give search engine crawlers something to index, you can make a plan for ordering the content you need written around the keywords you have selected.
Keyword Density Counts… But Don’t Over Stuff It!
When you are hiring writers to provide content for your web site, keep in mind that you want to have the text written in a fashion that appeals to the search engines, as well as human visitors. To give the search engine crawlers enough keywords to index when they get to your fresh content, you will want to make sure that you have a keyword density of between 1 and 3 percent.
1 percent keyword density is appropriate for material where the vocabulary and tone needs to be highly polished and where having too many keywords will make the content sound too plain.
If you go over three percent keyword density, you run the risk of having content that appears to be keyword-stuffed and that, quite frankly, doesn’t make a lot of sense to the reader. Worse still, the latest search engine algorithms are penalizing pages that have too many keywords. Stick to a lower keyword density, and you can put up quality content that makes sense to your site visitors and also gives search engine crawlers something that they can index.
Use a Variety of Keywords
When you are planning which keywords you will be using for your site, plan to have a variety of keywords and phrases included in your content. When you are making a plan for your keyword strategy, use a number of keywords that are relevant to your target market. Be sure to include single words, combinations of two or three keywords, and long tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are made up of four or five word phrases and should be part of your plan for building content on your web site because they draw in people who have already done their homework and know what they want. This kind of Internet user uses long tail keywords to conduct a focused search because they are ready to make a buying decision.
You want to attract the casual Internet surfer and those who are further along in their decision to buy to your site. When you use a variety of keywords, you increase the likelihood of drawing in traffic from both sources.
Track the Success of Your Campaign
If you don’t use tracking software to tell you which keywords your site visitors are using to find you, you won’t know which ones are giving you the best results. Your keyword campaign is not something you write up once and then never refer to again. It needs to be something that you (or someone working with you) is constantly monitoring and tweaking to keep your traffic numbers growing.
Going through the steps involved in choosing your keywords is going to take some time, but going through them is essential if you want to drive organic (free) traffic to your web site. By putting yourself in the shoes of the market you are targeting, you will find it easier to choose keywords that will bring in a good level of traffic to your site.