PUBLISHED JULY 2012
by Stephanie Chandler, CEO, AuthorityPublishing.com —
A Web site owner’s goal should be to have the site appear in the top 10 results when a user searches for a relevant topic. If the topic calls up 10,000 or more results, it may seem impossible to elevate your site into the top 10, but it can be easier than you think, and the process begins with using proper keywords.
Since Google owns 70 percent of the search market, I’ll focus on its processes and algorithms.
Google uses technology called “spiders” that look for keyword concentration as they crawl across Web sites analyzing the text on each page to assess what the site is about. If your Web site focuses on how to make the most of vacations at Grand Canyon National Park, for example, then the site should repeatedly mention various terms related to vacationing there. If “vacations at Grand Canyon” is mentioned just once or twice, Google may not be able to determine the focus of your site and therefore will not serve it up in relevant search results.
This is why keywords are so essential to search engine optimization (SEO). The words and phrases you choose as keywords for your site are factored into the complex algorithms Google uses to determine the order of search results, and you need to help Google grasp your content to ensure that the site will appear when potential customers search for what you have to offer.
Because keywords are at the heart of your SEO strategy, you should identify several that your target customers would use to locate your site.
For example, if you’re a publisher of books about diabetes, your keywords might look like this:
- diabetes book
- diabetes treatment
- natural treatments for diabetes
- type 2 diabetes treatment
- alternative diabetes treatment
- diabetic treatment
- gestational diabetes treatment
- diabetes symptoms
Choosing and Using
For ideas on which keywords to choose for your site, try Google’s free keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.
When you type in a word or phrase here, Google shows related words and phrases and their popularity in searches, plus the amount of competition vying for each word or phrase. This valuable information can help you understand what your potential customers are looking for.
For example, the phrase “diabetes treatment” receives more than 33,000 searches per month and is listed as highly competitive, while “diabetes treatment guidelines” receives 8,100 searches and has a medium level of competition.
Ideally you will find a way to incorporate many keywords into multiple pages on your Web site. Keep in mind that the site may have a better chance of appearing in the top search results if you focus on words and phrases that Google indicates have “medium” or “low” competition. However, it’s not impossible to show up in top results for phrases that have a high level of competition, though it may take some time and consistent effort to get there.
Once you choose your keywords, the next step is to incorporate them in your Web pages. Each and every page on your site should have a distinct keyword assigned to it.
For each page, incorporate the keyword in the following areas:
- page title: this is displayed at the top of the browser and in search results
- page description: the description is displayed in search results
- meta tags: although opinions vary on whether tags matter, I still find them worthwhile
- page header: the bold headline at the top of the page
- page content: keywords work best when they fit the content on Web pages, so the content for each page on your site should use its most important keyword two or three times
- page URL: incorporate each page’s main keyword into the URL for the page if possible
- images: use a keyword in alt tag text and description for any image on a page
Managing More Mentions
Of course, there is a caveat to all this. The search engines will penalize you if you try to beat the system.
Don’t repeat keywords dozens of times—this is considered keyword stuffing and could actually hurt your site ranking or get your site removed from the search engine altogether. Google does care about keyword density and keyword concentration on a page, but good keyword density means that keywords account for 4 to 7 percent of the content on a page, with at least 93 percent of the page devoted to other content.
Once you understand keyword strategy, you will realize that a standard five-page Web site is rarely big enough to capture the many keywords your prospective customers may be using. The best way to increase the chances of being found in searches for numerous keyword phrases is to add pages. Create a page describing each product or service, plus pages for articles and a blog.
While keywords are at the heart of good search engine optimization strategy, they are just the beginning. In the August Independent, I’ll explain other things you can do to optimize your Web site and generate additional traffic.
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books, including Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business. The CEO of AuthorityPublishing.com, which specializes in custom publishing for nonfiction books and social media marketing services, she speaks often at business events and on the radio; she has been featured in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and Wired magazine, and she is a blogger for Forbes.