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I am therefore going to go back to basics and show you what keywords are, how we choose keywords for websites and why we choose them.
What are keywords?Keywords, or keyword phrases, are words and phrases that best define the main subjects of your web pages. Each page will have one or two target keyword phrases that should match what searchers type into search engines when looking for a page that has the information you provide, product or service you sell on the page in question.
Why we use them?Basically, you need to target keywords people use when searching in order to ensure you get found in search engines for those terms. Search engine spiders crawl the content of your website to see what it's all about. These spiders save the information they find and then the giant Google algorithm assesses each page of your website to determine the most important words and phrases in order to understand the searches for which your site is relevant.
You must make sure that your main keywords are included throughout the page, but not too many times. Putting too many keywords in the title tag, meta tags, header tags, copy and links is bad for the reader and the search engines will recognise the patterns of word use as being unnatural, or spammy... no one likes spam, and it will do more harm than good.
How do we choose keywords?The first thing we do is build up an initial list of possible keyword phrases. To do this we need to:
Understand the websiteYou know your own business and what you sell, so any good SEO consultant will ask you what your users would type into search engines when looking for you. They should also look at your site in detail and create a list of other potential terms based on what you've written on each page of your website.
Know your limits (then break them down)It is generally accepted in the world of SEO that longer, more specific (long tail) keyword phrases are often more likely to convert, and getting visibility for these kinds of keywords is easier as there will be less direct competition. Once you build the authority of your website you can begin to target more competitive keywords with higher search volumes, trying to break down those barriers that were too big when you began.
However in all honesty, if you are a small business targeting the big terms, eventually ranking for those terms may be a completely unrealistic goal, as you may not have the budget or man-hours to compete effectively.
CompetitionIt is always good to see what your main competitors are targeting because if they are actively optimising for certain keywords, it's likely those keywords are delivering business.
ToolsYou can make use of a variety of tools to help choose keywords, find ideas that may not have occurred to you and to determine which keywords are most likely to have higher search volumes. Some of these tools include:
- Google Adwords Keyword Tool
- Google Analytics
- Google Related Searches and Wonder Wheel
- Google Trends
- Google Insights
- Twitter trending terms
- Ebay popular searches