I have been charged with the task of cooking dinner for my family. I wasn’t sure what to make but wanted to avoid a trip to the grocery store. I decided to rely on Google to give me recipes using keywords I could think of relating to food already at home. I did a keyword search for “chicken noodle” but my results yielded extraneous links. So, I refined my search to “asian chicken noodle recipe” in hopes of improving the outcome. The results were more precise this time and gave me exactly what I needed.

Not everyone doing a search on the internet will be seeking a chicken noodle recipe, but the point of all this is to emphasize how important keywords really are when conducting a specific search. They are the main tool that visitors on the web use when accessing pages and pages of content, whether it be a book, vacation rental or in my case, a simple recipe.

With the billions of items posted on the internet and the trillions of ways to search for them, finding the best keywords to describe what your site provides is vital to a successful online campaign. Choosing these keywords has to start with two very important things: selection and optimization.

Keyword selection should be based upon two main factors:

  • What products or services your site/company provides (the ‘call to action’)
  • What your potential customers search for when they need those products or services

Without a clear understanding of how your customers search for your products and services online, attracting the right kind of traffic to your site will prove difficult. So, brainstorm a list of your services. Then use a keyword selector tool to find phrases and words to directly target your anticipated audience. Thinking like a potential customer will enable you to design your website immediately directing customers to the ‘call to action’ you want them to take; this may be filling out a survey, making a purchase online or informing them on a subject. When selecting keywords to describe your company, keep in mind that most searches (around 65 percent) involve a keyword phrase that is more targeted and relevant to the sought after information. The keyword phrase is usually three or more words long. For instance, by just typing “chicken noodle” in Google, I got results for not only recipes but the history of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, clothing and even a music video. I would have to manually search through all that information to find exactly what I wanted But by entering “asian chicken noodle recipe,” my search was much more relevant.

So, now you understand how your client is thinking and you have an idea of some of the keywords they may use when trying to access your company’s products and services. The next step is to correctly place these keywords on a page, making it easier for a search engine to find them, thus ranking your site higher in search results. Placing keywords on a page can be a tricky task if you’re not sure how search engines operate. For instance, Google prefers to search for keywords located near the top left of each page. Placing lots of keywords in that position may sound like a great way to get ahead, but be aware that over optimization of a web page could result in serious penalties from search engines.A good rule of thumb is to include anywhere between three to five keywords per page within the first 200 words of text. Sites containing any more than nine percent keyword content can be penalized by search engines for implementing ‘black hat’ practices. This means the site was over optimized for a keyword search and the site content was deemed less credible and less relevant due to heavy emphasis on keywords and lack of informative depth.

Best places (in order) to add keywords for maximum impact:

1) Title tag
2) Page heading and subheading
3) Description META tag
4) Bold/italic headings (H1 tags)
5) Within Anchor text (internal website keyword heavy text links)
6)URL or file name (i.e. keyword.htm)

So use these tips, brainstorm the keywords, select them and optimize them on your website. If you are able to properly implement the above strategies, your company will finally get the attention it’s been seeking.