Search engine keywords are the basic way that anyone finds anything on the internet. Think about your own experiences. Maybe you have a few key sites bookmarked, or you’ll sometimes follow a link from another site, but a very high percentage of the time, you likely just head over to Google, or Yahoo!, or Bing, and put in a few keywords that describe what you’re looking for.
And if you’re looking for new information, for something that you haven’t read before, than the percentage of the time that this happens is likely even higher.
But there is no need to dwell on the importance of search engines – everybody knows how important they are already. What we’re going to look at is the process by which keywords are selected for focus and optimization.
Analyze and Plan
The first step in any SEO keyword selection is a thorough analysis of your own site. Open up a text editor, or take out a notebook, and open up your website. Look at it and think about the information on your site. Try to come up with 2 or 3 descriptive words or phrases that accurately capture the essence of the site.
The key here is to think about the process in reverse. Try to think about what you would type into a search engine if you wanted to come across your site. Don’t try and be misleading. Readers who stumble upon your site by mistake are not nearly as valuable as those who try to find your site.
Then, repeat this process for every page on your site. Try to boil each page down to a few key words and phrases.
The next step is actually selecting which keywords you will optimize your site for. So do to this, check out an online tool like Overture or WordTracker. Here you can check the popularity of your chosen keywords, as well as get suggestions for other related keywords.
The goal here is to focus on keywords with a middling level of popularity. If you have very common (and thus very popular) keyword like “cars,” “books,” or “dogs,” then drop it right away. Well-funded sites run by corporations with huge advertising budgets and full-time SEO staff are going to dominate the top results for keywords like these. As a small business owner, you can’t hope to compete, and should focus on a different niche.
Which brings me to a question posed by some of my readers recently. Is it better to be in the top of search rankings for a less popular keyword? Or a few pages back for a very popular keyword?
The answer is that it is not just better, but essential, to be in the top 10 rankings. People almost never go deeper than the first page of Google results, unless they are looking for a very specific piece of information. If you’re not on the first page, you’re dead.
So rank their popularity, drop the very popular keywords, and the ones that aren’t searched for at all. Before long, you should have a selection of middle-popularity keywords, and you can start optimizing your site properly!