Thursday, October 18, 2007

What are Keywords? Why Do I Need Them?

Keywords are words that may be used by viewers searching for information, search terms or phrases that are related to an advertisement or ad copy.

In search engine marketing the keyword or search phrase is crucial. Keywords can be a single term or keyword phases can be used which contain multiple words.

To appear on those first few pages of a search engine a website must contain a density of keywords or phrases related to the search terms used. It is an imperative part of search engine optimization for any website.

When you go to a search engine such as Google and search for something, you are using a keyword or keyword phrase. For example, if you do a search for "website design" you are using keywords for your search. The results that come up will be as follows:

The top two results are paid advertisements (a company paid for you to see their ad when you searched using those words).

The results listed over on the right are also paid advertisements

The results listed on the page underneath the top two are your natural search results. The words that you chose for your search are listed within the content of the websites and Google is showing you the most relevant results. (This is a simplified explanation, more information can be found in SEO articles.)

If you have ever tried to figure out keywords or keyword phrases, you know it can be a daunting task.

Some websites make the mistake of just listing anything and everything under the sun for their keywords. Major search engines take into account many factors. If you are listing a keyword that has no relevancy to your website and there is no copy on your website to back it up it will not be taken into consideration. Another mistake often seen is the over-use of keywords on a page. Again, if you are using a word over and over on your site, (when it isn't needed) in order to get higher rankings - you are barking up the wrong tree. It won't help you get any closer to the coveted "Top".

Keyword density is key. We'll write another blog on that subject soon.

Back to keywords and how to find them...

There are many tools out there, and even services you can enlist to help you choose your keywords. I suggest going with the freebies.

Here are three that I like to use:

1. Google Adwords - Keyword Tool
This is an excellent source for figuring out what your keywords should be. Simply type in a keyword or phrase that is relevant to your website (make sure you check synonyms) and get your information. Another excellent tool is the next tab over "Site-Related Keywords". You can simply enter your site url and see what keywords you should be using based on the content that's already on your site.

2. Overture Keyword Selector Tool
This is Yahoo's PPC campaign (Overture) tool. You can enter a keyword and search and you will be shown the keyword phrases and how many times they were searched for on Yahoo for the previous month. This is a fabulous way to see if you are on the right track. If people aren't searching for what you are advertising, you may want to take another approach.

3. Google Suggest
This is a fun tool that guesses what you're typing and offers suggestions in real time. It also shows you the number of times the phrases were searched for. It can be useful to give you ideas of what other searches were performed using one of your keywords and inspire you to find new phrases.

Remember, it's not just about what your keywords are, but how you use them on your site and in your advertising.

Joanne Pele is the Vice President of Operations at Complete Business Systems. Complete Business Systems provides a ready-to-go branding package for your company, including website, logo, business cards and letterhead. Additional services include postcard design, databases, press release and web content writing. For more information, visit Complete Business Systems or call 800-479-9186.

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