Keywords are the most basic components of search engine optimization (SEO). Once you know how to use them, you can drive your site to the top of the search engines… get more targeted traffic to your website… more sign-ups… and, eventually, make more sales.

Keywords describe your content – what your website is about. They should be embedded in each and every one of your Web pages to allow search engines to find your site. For example, ETR’s website keywords might include business tips, business advice, home business, and so on.

Now picking keywords to help optimize your site involves a little more than just thumping out a list. You have to do a little research. But it’s not very time-consuming. And it can have huge returns.

In my experience, researching words that are suited to your product prior to beginning your SEO work will give you a better perspective for performing your SEO tasks. And you don’t have to optimize your site for the broadest, most popular keywords around.

Popular Is Not Always Best

I would NEVER begin my SEO process before carefully researching the absolute best keywords to use. After all, what good is it to optimize your website if your potential customers hardly ever search for the words you’ve chosen? Some website owners optimize for words THEY think are important. But the simple fact is that YOUR words might have a low search volume… or may never be searched at all.

I started optimizing websites over 10 years ago (before most people knew what search engine optimization was), and it always drove me crazy when a client would want to rank for a “single” keyword and nothing else. If, for instance, you have a website that sells hiking equipment and you try to rank only for “hiking equipment,” you’ll miss out on a lot of targeted visitors. There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of keyword combinations you could use to develop a good keyword list – like “snow shoes,” “hiking boots,” “walking sticks,” “lightweight tents,” and so on.

Limiting yourself to single keywords is not the way to go. Those keywords are likely to be highly competitive – so, by using them, you’ll have a hard time getting your website within the top 10 results of a search engine. As a result, they’ll get you almost no traffic. Instead, generate a broader range of keywords and spread them throughout your site’s Web pages.

When researching and developing a good keyword list, you can make your job much easier by taking the following into account:

• The competition you will face for a particular keyword. Don’t be afraid to use keywords that are not searched for as often as the more popular ones.

Let’s use the keyword “mortgages” as an example. If you type “mortgages” into Google, you’ll get around 86 million results. So sites optimized for this single keyword are competing with over 86 million other websites for the same traffic. But sites targeting “New York mortgages” instead are competing with only 5 million other websites. And sites targeting even narrower sets of keywords have an even better chance of ranking higher in the search engines… and getting more targeted traffic.

• The specificity of the search term. When people search for a single keyword, they usually get too many results – and not always the results they are looking for. So most, fine-tune their searches by including more words.

Let’s say you own a bakery that specializes in cupcakes. If a potential customer for your cupcakes searches the word “bakery” on Google, they will be presented with nearly 40 million results. If they fine-tune their search to “cupcake bakery,” Google will return less than two million results (which makes the searcher’s job a lot easier). At the same time, by being more specific with your keywords (”cupcake bakery” instead of “bakery”), you get less competition from other bakeries. That means your chances of attaining a good search engine position will be higher… and you’ll be more likely to attract a customer who will buy from you.

How to Pick the Best Keywords for Your Site

There are many free online resources you can use to find the right keywords for your site. Just do a search for “keyword tool” on any search engine and you’ll have plenty of options. I like Word Tracker (wordtracker.com), but you might prefer one of the following:

  • adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
  • keywordspy.com
  • keyworddiscovery.com
  • tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/
  • selfseo.com/keyword_suggestion_tool.php
  • submitexpress.com/keytracker.php

I once took on a client who was trying his hardest to get his site to the top of the search engines. He manufactured prefabricated steel structures, and had been hoping to achieve high search engine ranking with a few variations of the keyword “steel buildings.”

By doing my research, I found that many people were searching for relevant keywords that he had never even considered. For instance, more people searched for “metal buildings” than “steel buildings.” And there were thousands who searched for “steel pole barns,” “metal garages,” and “metal carports.”

We reworked his SEO efforts, focusing on the alternatives I had found. And in less than two months, his site was getting lots of new traffic and leads from people looking up those keywords. For one of them – “metal carport”- he ranked in the top 5 spots on most major search engines. And that, alone, brought in about 500 new visitors per day.

Remember… there are probably thousands of keyword combinations you can use for your website. Even if the keywords you choose aren’t the most popular… or don’t get millions of searches every day… they can still help drive thousands of targeted visitors directly to your site.

So take your time and do it right. Compiling the perfect combination of keywords for your website will help you immensely with your SEO efforts.

[Ed. Note: Search engine optimization may sound complicated… but it’s a fairly simple way to increase your traffic and, eventually, your sales. For more SEO strategies – plus dozens of other money-making marketing techniques you can put to work right away – order your copy of ETR’s 2008 Info Marketing Bootcamp “Home Edition” DVD set. You can get $100,000 ideas from some of the top experts in Internet marketing.

Send your SEO questions to AskETR@ETRFeedback.com. Include your name and hometown, and one of ETR’s SEO experts just may answer your question in an upcoming issue.]

 

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edwin huertasEdwin Huertas has been developing and marketing Websites since 1994 as well as testing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) methodologies for many years. He has helped many medium- to large-sized companies around the globe by improving their Web marketing efforts.

Edwin’s background in programming has allowed him to approach Search Engine Optimization from a developer’s perspective. Studying search engines’ algorithms and patterns in order to develop successful SEO campaigns has helped him generate millions in revenue for his clients and employers.