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Keywords: Basic Building Blocks for Website Success

by Harold Compton

What are Keywords?

Everyone has heard that keywords are important for websites but why? Keywords are the words or phrases used in website that make it easy for visitors to find your site through search engines by telling search engines what your site is about.  This allows search engines to list your site when visitors enter a search string relative to your keywords.

Keywords are the foundation of a website and should be where website development begins.  Keyword research should be the first step taken in web design before putting the first words or images to a new website design.  Businesses want to bring traffic to their website that can be turned into paying customers.  Keywords are one of the critical items of a website by ensuring that the right traffic finds your website.  You don’t simply want traffic; you want traffic that is searching for your product of service.

Selecting the Right Keywords

First and foremost determining he keyword(s) you plan use are relevant to your website, its products or service.  You must first put yourself in your customer’s mind; doing an internet search on Google or Yahoo or some other search engine.  If you entered a keyword string and ended up on your website, whould you be happy with what you found?  Keyword selection is difficult at best and attempting to rank high for a single keyword is almost impossible.   If you own a soccer sporting goods store and wanted to rank your website high, you may be able to rank a website well for the keyword “sporting goods”, however this term alone is far too general.   Although the total number of searches may be high, a large number of them may not be searching for soccer items.  A much better phrase might be something like “soccer equipment” or “soccer apparel” if this what your store sells.  This may reduce the number of total searches however those finding your site are looking specifically for what you are selling.  It is also better to achieve high ranking for a two or three work phase since most internet searches are done using this method.  Remember that the overall goal is not to simply rank high and get lots of visitors but to get lots of visitors that are looking for your product or service!   You also want to target different keywords for various pages on your site so that visitors land on internal pages specific to their search.

One of the best tools available for determining the right keyword(s) is the Google Keyword Planner which requires a Google Adwords account.  A simple format for entering the basic keyword or phrase that you have chosen as well as the website URL and the general category of the website and it will provide you with a list of possible keyword ideas.  It provides the monthly search volume however this is for paid ads but will give an idea of the competitiveness of the keywords provided.  If you are not familiar with this tool, Dave Davies provides an easy to follow instructional article at .  Another tool available to anyone is Google Insights for Search.  This tool allows you to enter a basic keyword and provides you the relative searches over a given period and location.  This will also provide you with some related keyword phrases that you may wish to use.  Google Webmaster Tools can also provide valuable information on search terms relative to your website.

How Do I Know Which Keywords to Use

Once you have completed your research you should have a significant list of keywords and related keyword phrases.  The trick now is to decide which ones to use.  This is a careful juggling act of determining which ones will be most relevant to your site, are not the most competitive and will still generate enough traffic to your site.  Once again using our example of a soccer store, it would be difficult to rank high against the major athletics companies for the top term(s).  They will have an established brand name, a much larger marketing budget and will most likely target all the top keywords.  The goal is to find those keywords that are relevant to your store, that have a medium or low competitiveness and still generate enough traffic that is targeted specifically to your product or service.  Additionally if your customer base is local you can add your location to the keyword phrase to focus your efforts even more.  Then begin optimizing your website for these keywords and although the total number of visitors may be less, a higher percentage of visitors will be ones that are looking specifically for your product.

Determining if Your Keywords are Working

Google has now removed keywords from their results in Google Analytics so it is more difficult to determine if your keywords are working.  There are still ways to determine if you are using the right keywords: Keyword Position Tool provided by Small SEO Tools ) and Google Analytics.  First run your domain with all keywords that you are targeting on the Keyword Position Tool.  This will show you where your site ranks in Google, Yahoo and Bing for the keywords listed.  You want to have your site ranked as high as possible for your keywords.  You can next check Google Analytics visitor overview to see what percentage of your visitors are from organic searches.  If your site ranks high for the keywords you have selected and you have a significant percentage of your visitors from organic searches then you have been successful in choosing your keywords.  Finally, Google Analytics In Page Analytics can provide you valuable information on number of searches, conversions and revenue from specific pages which have already been optimized for specific keyword and keyword phrases.  Remember that the key is not simply the number of visits to a page but rather the number that are converting, signing up or buying.