You will find that any discussion of search engine positioning eventually comes back to keywords and key phrases. Why? Because it doesn't matter if you've used the most cutting-edge techniques to submit your web site to the search engines.
A) Optimized your site using the wrong keywords
B) Chosen keywords that are too general or highly competitive (i.e. business, Internet, software), your target market will never find your web site!
Your keywords are what the search engines look for in your Title Tags, your Meta Tags, and the body of your text when ranking your web site. They're also what the search engines will ultimately use to categorize your web site.
So it is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that you choose your keywords and phrases wisely. You need to:
A) Find the keywords that your target market is using in the search engines.
B) Be careful that you don't choose words that are highly competitive because this will make it extremely difficult to get a top spot! Obviously, without the right information and tools, finding this balance could be really difficult.
So to make walking this fine line a little easier for you, I've put together this list of rules and resources that you can use to choose keywords that will drive high volumes of targeted traffic to your web site with as little sweat, strain, and expense as possible!
TEN EASY RULES FOR TARGETED KEYWORDS
1) Sit down with a pen and paper. and brainstorm! I know this might not seem like a very high tech idea, but you know your business best! Picture your perfect client and imagine what keywords they might type into the search engines.
2) Ask family, friends, and associates what terms they would use to search for your product type.
3) Be specific and general. For example, if you were selling cocker spaniel puppies, you might use the following keywords: dogs, dog, puppy, puppies, cocker spaniel, cocker spaniels, cocker spaniel puppies, pets, etc..
4) Include misspelled words! This is a trick that many site owners neglect -- and that's too bad! Using misspelled words is a great way to target traffic that you -- and your competitors -- might otherwise miss! Research common misspellings of your top keywords and include them in your list.
5) Include your region if applicable. For example, if you owned a hotel in California, you would include "California" in your list of keywords.
6) Include the long and short form of words. Using the puppy example, you would include "pups" and "pup" along with "puppies".
7) Use as many variations of your keywords as you can think of. For example, the keyword "diet" could be "diet", "diets", "dieting".
8) Remember that some search engines are case sensitive when it comes to keywords and phrases, so "Run" and "run" would be considered two separate keywords.
9) Be sure to include your company name. but do NOT use trademark names other than your own! If you get caught using trademark names like Wal-Mart, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. to draw traffic to your site, you could not only find yourself banned from the search engines, you could also find yourself slapped with a lawsuit!
10) Check what keywords your competitors have featured on their web sites, in their titles, and in their META tags. You can easily do this by going to your competitor's web site, clicking on the "View" menu of your browser, and choosing "Source." Keep track of what you learn as you make your way through their keywords. You will find that the same sites and pages keep popping up. Be sure that you pay close attention to their strategies.
WARNING: There are two things I want to mention here.
First, I am not suggesting that you blatantly copy your competition's keywords or code. Rather, use the information you gather to expand your own keyword list and improve your web site design.
Second, keep in mind that web sites with top ranking positions in highly competitive industries may be using more complex tactics to hide their Source Code from their competitors. In fact, you should know that some sites even put up "decoy" Source Code to try and throw you off track. So if you come across a web site that has a top ranking in a number of the major search engines, but their source code seems "off" or different from others in top positions, this is probably why. Don't worry about it. Just move on.
A FREE TOOL THAT MAKES IT EASY
Surfing the web and checking competitors' web sites to see what keywords they're using is becoming a less effective way to create your own keyword list.
Site owners are getting wise to this after being bumped down the ranks by their competitors, and we're starting to see more and more "decoy" tricks and techniques being used.
That's why this really POWERFUL FREE TOOL I recently discovered can be a huge asset.
It's called Wordtracker, and it literally gives you the power to KNOW EXACTLY WHICH KEYWORDS WILL SKYROCKET YOUR TRAFFIC and boost your ranking in the search engines!
This is how it works:
Basically, Wordtracker collects the search results from 24 major search engines and compiles them into a database which is constantly being updated -- it currently contains over 30 million queries!
This information is then organized into useful reports based on the keyword searches that you do.
I've spent quite a bit of time playing around with this service (it's actually a lot of fun to use) and here's what I've discovered it can do.
First of all, with Wordtracker you can simply type in your keyword or key phrase, and it will return a list of related keywords and phrases.
This is a really useful feature because it will often produce KEYWORD COMBINATIONS THAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF!
Then, for each keyword or phrase, Wordtracker will tell you how many times it was searched during the past 24 hours based on their database of 30 million queries. (Their database continues to grow daily).
It will also estimate how much traffic your site could expect to get in a 24-hour period if you were ranked in a top position in the search engines under that keyword.
This is extremely powerful information!
Not only will you know which keywords people are actively searching, you can also KNOW HOW MUCH TRAFFIC EACH KEYWORD WILL BRING YOUR WEB SITE!
Once you know this, it's easy to decide if it's worth the effort to optimize your site using that particular keyword!
Wordtracker allows you to ACCURATELY RANK YOUR KEYWORDS in order of importance -- instead of guessing -- and be sure that the ones that are searched most frequently get the most attention.
It will even tell you exactly which misspellings are drawing traffic! No more guessing! You can include these keywords in your list, and guarantee your site an *extra* boost of traffic that your competition may be neglecting!
Pretty impressive, right? Well, it gets even better! I haven't told you about the feature that is my personal favourite yet..
Get this. Wordtracker has also been designed to tell you exactly how many web sites are competing under a keyword in a particular search engine!
So if, for example, you had a web site dedicated to ferrets and ferret related products, you would type "ferret" into Wordtracker to find out how many other web sites are competing under this particular keyword.
If you did this, you would discover that in Alta Vista, there are 115,205 sites competing under "ferret"!
Yipe! Obviously, it would be tough to get a top ranking in this category. There's just too much competition!
However, because Wordtracker also gives you a list of related keywords, you discover that another popular search term is "ferret care".
And that there are only 45 sites competing under this particular keyword in Alta Vista!
Perfect! You have just discovered a keyword that you can use to optimize your ranking in the search engines and start grabbing traffic that very few sites are competing for!
Using Wordtracker, it's extremely easy to discover which keywords are popular with your target market, but not being used by your competitors!
This is EXTREMELY POWERFUL! I literally couldn't believe it when I came across this tool. It's an absolutely brilliant idea that gives e-business owners like you and me a competitive edge for FREE or little cost depending on which level of service you choose.
With Wordtracker's free trial version, you can do keyword searches that will return 15 related keywords and phrases, and get traffic estimates and competition comparisons on as many as 30 keywords in AltaVista.
It's a pretty good place to start if you're short on cash and need to start building your keyword list.
However, the paid version is quite a bit more comprehensive. You can do keyword searches that will return up to 300 related keywords, and get traffic estimates and competition comparisons on as many as 500 keywords in 24 major search engines.
Common misspellings are included with the paid version, along with multiple search features, project reports, and the option to e-mail the lists to clients. You have a choice of weekly, monthly, 3 month, and yearly subscriptions.
A week is certainly more than enough time to build a comprehensive keyword list using this service. Wordtracker's interface is extremely easy-to-use, and building huge, detailed reports with the exact information you need literally takes just minutes.
However, if you're planning on optimizing your web site regularly to keep yourself well-ranked in the search engines, a yearly subscription might be a more economical choice.
The time you save and the accuracy of their estimations really make this service an invaluable tool.
Anyway, rather than go on and on about how impressed I am by it, I suggest that you go check out WordTracker for yourself.
I think you'll have fun with the free trial version... and it will definitely give you a taste of what it can do for your business.