Website Tonight SEO : Keywords

What is a Keyword

To put it simply, a keyword is any word you use on your website that has a meaning on its own. Lets dissect a single sentence as an example…

Unlike some site builders, Website Tonight allows for search engine optimization.

The keywords above are highlighted. Notice that each keyword is highlighted individually. When keywords appear in a row they become a key phrase…

Unlike some site builders, Website Tonight allows for search engine optimization.

When a keyword becomes part of a key phrase Google still considers it a keyword on its own. It’s counted both ways, but that doesn’t make it twice as powerful. Google isn’t just counting keywords, they are also rating matches between the keywords on your webpage and the term that is being searched (details below under “Target Keywords”).

Your meta keywords are NOT the same thing as the important words on your website (aka: “keywords”). Read, “Meta Tags in Website Tonight“.

Keywords in Search Results

The words you select are a very important part of search engine optimization. You want to make sure that you are using the same words in your browser titles, meta descriptions, and in the content areas of your web pages that your ideal customer is using. For example, if you own a pet shop website then use the word “goldfish” not “Carassius auratus auratus” which is the scientific classification for a goldfish. The average pet owner (your target audience) will not be searching for “Carassius auratus auratus”. However, if your target audience are zoologists that study fish then perhaps the term “Carassius auratus auratus” is a stronger key phrase for you than “goldfish”.

Obviously this is an exaggerated example, but hopefully you get the point.

Content is King

An important thing to note is that the keywords need to be used in the content areas of your web pages, not just the titles and descriptions. This is because Google primarily determines which web pages will be results for a search based on the content of those web pages, not just the browser titles and descriptions. If your page title and description both use a keyword that isn’t on the webpage itself (or it is but only a few times) then you are likely not targeting your audience effectively and you won’t likely get a top ranking position for those terms.

Target Keywords

Try to match the keywords and phrases you use to the exact terms and phrases the target audience will search because direct matches are favored by Google. For example, lets pretend that there are two web pages with steps for potty training pets and Google is ranking them strictly on the page title. This is what they look like…

Pretend Website #1 …

“How To” for Puppies and Dogs : Potty Training

Pretend Website #2 …

How to Potty Train a Puppy

If the search term is, “how do I potty train my puppy”, which site will get the higher position on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page)?

Even though all the same keywords and phrases are in both browser titles, website #2 will get the higher position because their page title is closer to a direct match. The closer your titles are to the search term the more relevant your webpage appears to be for that search. Of course this was a hypothetical scenario. In reality Google uses far more than just the page title to decide how to rank the search results, so website #2 could be listed lower in the results even with a title that almost matches perfectly.

This principle doesn’t only apply to browser titles. If you match the search term in the content area of the webpage it has the same effect.

Local Keywords

For many searches Google favors results that are geographically local to the person doing the search. For example, when someone searches “ice cream” they might be looking for general info about ice cream or a manufacturers website, but it’s also likely that they are looking for somewhere to get ice cream. That’s why Google will list ice cream shops in the top results even though they might not have as high of a page rank as some of the ice cream manufactures or the Wikipedia page about ice cream.

Now imagine if you searched “ice cream” on Google and the ice cream shops Google showed you were 100s of miles away. That’s wouldn’t be very helpful. That’s why Google doesn’t simply list them from highest page rank to lowest page rank. Instead they list the highest ranked ice cream parlors in your area. This is especially true if the search includes a geographic term (ex: “San Diego ice cream”).

To enhance the local results Google created Google Places which shows all the top businesses in the local area that match the search. If your business services a particular area (ex: state, county, city, etc) then use those geographic keywords on your web pages, in the browser titles, and in the meta description. This will help your website rank higher for localized searches. Also, add your business to Google Places – it’s free.

Quality Keywords

One of the biggest search engine optimization mistakes I see new webmasters make is their selection of keywords. Don’t try to compete with large companies that have huge marketing budgets. If you’re a small business or have a limited marketing budget then don’t go for the golden keywords. Instead try to find keywords and phrases that are less common, but still get a decent amount of searches each month.

Let me give you an example using (these numbers are fictitious)…

Search Term: web design Website Tonight
Listed on Page: 18 1
Monthly Searches: 6,000,000 33,000
Monthly Clicks: 50 1,000

As you can see the term “website design” gets about 170 times more searches each month than the term “Website Tonight”, but that doesn’t make it a better key phrase for me to target. There are thousands of companies with large marketing budgets that are targeting that keyword. Pro Site Tonight is related to web design, but the term “website design” is too competitive for me.

By targeting a less competitive term with fewer overall searches I can generate more traffic. The goal is to be on the first page for the keywords and phrases with the greatest volume of monthly searches. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t avoid the term “website design”, but I don’t waste time trying to focus on that keyword either.

Discover new keywords related to your industry and see how competitive those keywords are with the Google Keyword Tool.

Keyword and Page Rank Statistics

If you don’t already have web statistics I highly recommend using Google Analytics or Site Analytics. There is an old parable that goes something like, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That’s true of competitive search engine optimization.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions not listed here then leave them in the comments below.

How important is a page one search listing?
If you’re like most people when you do a Google search you only look at the first page of search results. Either you choose from the options on page one or you start over by searching a slightly different term. Usually page one listings get more clicks than all the results on pages 2, 3, and 4 combined, but that isn’t always the case.

If you’re website covers a topic that people tend to research (ex: nuclear power, Roman history, etc) or one with enough variety that people intuitively know that page one might not have all the best results (ex: art, apparel, etc) then it may be common for your target audience to go several pages deep when they do a search. So again, “how important is a page one listing in Google”, it all depends on your industry and your competition, but as a general rule of thumb its it’s very important.

If I’m not on page one should I target a different keyword?
That depends on your industry and competition. Just keep in mind that you can’t expect to be a page one search result for a keyword or phrase the day you publish pages that target those terms. It often takes time. If you are instantly a page one search result then perhaps you’ve set your standards too low and you should be targeting higher volume terms that are more competitive. Being listed on page 2 of a Google search results page isn’t a bad thing, especially if there is room for improvement.

What are the best keywords and phrases for ME to target?
I wish that I could give you a magic wand or formula that would show you the keywords and phrases that will generate the most high-quality traffic for you. Unfortunately, no such thing exists. Every website has a different sweet spot. Finding the perfect balance between volume and competition for the keywords that will work for your business is something that will require time and experimentation. It all boils down to trial-and-error.

Where do I start with SEO?
In my opinion the best place to start is where you currently are. Look through your website statistics to see what people are already searching to find your website. By knowing what people are currently searching you can refine your strong points before seeking new ground to cover. If you can bump one of your web pages from page 2 to 1 then you will likely see more results faster than you will by trying to start from scratch.

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