In order to improve your search engine rankings, most techniques have one thing in common and that is keywords. Keywords are extremely crucial as they lead search engine users to your site.

Some people make it to the top of search engines and get lots of traffic while others do the same but get nothing. The reason is simple. The first group selected keywords that many people are searching for, while the second group did not.

Choosing keywords:

Selecting the right keywords is the first step to better search engine positioning and the most important stage in garnering a prime spot in search engines’ Top 20. To ensure this, analyze your business carefully and think of all the words that relate to your company or product. Brainstorming with your colleagues and friends is vital.

When thinking about keywords, consider the following:

  • Who needs your service?
    Your target audience – those who will use your services/products – must always be foremost on your mind when coming up with the correct, most effective keywords
  • Include variations of your keywords
    Always remember that people search sites using all sorts of keywords. Ensuring your site is easy to find means including misspelled, capitalized and plural keywords. In addition, always include the longer forms of keywords too. For example, use “domestication” as well as “domestic”.
  • Avoid wrong key words
    Sounds basic? However, you’d be surprised how many people use “stop words” such as particles like “and”, “the” and common words like “Internet”. Always bear in mind that the more specific your keywords, the better the chance that people who find your site through search engines will actually benefit from its content.
  • Alphabetical priority and its influence
    Whether a file name starts with A or Z has a surprising effect on a site’s search engine rankings. This is because some small search engines still use alphabetical priority as a ranking factor. Furthermore, directories such as Yahoo! And Open Directory Project list sites in alphabetical order. Therefore, it is vital to consider the effect of the alphabetical hierarchy when choosing keywords.
  • Avoid spam
    Be extremely careful when choosing keywords. This is because if all your keywords do not relate to your site’s content, you risk being penalized for spam.
  • Conduct a log file analysis
    This will tell you exactly what keywords have already been used to find your site. Combine these words into new keywords phrases
  • Research by surfing the Internet
    Have a look at the meta keywords and text used in other websites about the same subject as they may have found additional keywords for your to use. However, don’t be tempted to paste the code from other sites straight into your page as you can never be sure whether proper research was done. Use this method solely for keywords research purposes only

Using your HTML Title effectively

What is an HTML Title and why should I use it?

An HTML Title describes the contents of your web page in one sentence. It's likely to appear in search engines' results and in bookmarks. It is also the first thing a search engine's spider sees on your page. Since your title will be seen by both readers and search engines, it is of particular importance.

Your title is the most important part of your page as far as search engines are concerned. Remember that every search engine supports the title tag to some extent.

Important: Your title should appear right after the tag. If you're using a WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) tool, such as FrontPage, you may want to make sure your title is placed correctly. Having your title placed below its usual place may decrease its power and cost you rankings.

Avoid spam

Don't repeat the same keyword in your title more than twice; it's considered spam. Also, some engines penalize for using all CAPS.

In summary, the HTML tile is the most important part of your page; should appeal to search engines as well as people and needs to capture the interest of the reader.

Using keywords in the text of your pages

There are many issues to consider when placing keywords in the text of your pages. Most search engines index the full text of each page, so it is crucial to place keywords throughout your text. However, each search engine uses different ranking algorithms. Difficult though it may be, you need to bear all of them in mind.

General rules

Ensure your main page is full of keywords. It has a higher chance of being indexed than your other pages, and it will be the only page indexed by some engines.

Some engines rank a page high if it has at least 100 words, so make that your minimum. Directories include pages based on the quality of their content, so make sure your pages are not simply lists of keywords.

Key concepts

When creating your pages' content, keep the following four concepts in mind:

Keyword Prominence

The best place to place keywords in the text is at the top of each page and preferably on the main page. The closer your keywords are to the start of the page or the start of a sentence, the better. This concept is known as "keyword prominence." You will frequently see it used to describe search engines' algorithms.

Some engines also say the bottom of the page should contain keywords as well.

Keyword Proximity

Some engines, such as Google, use the concept of "keyword proximity" as part of their ranking formulas. As suggested by the name, "keyword proximity" means the how close keywords are to each other. Put your keywords as close together as possible and make sure your sentences are clear.

Keyword Density

This concept, also known as keyword weight, measures the relationship of keywords to other text. Remember, the higher the percentage of keywords in relationship to other text, the better.

The recommended density is 3-7%. This means that your keyword should repeat 3-7 times for every 100 words.

Sound easy? Imagine having 10 keywords and trying to repeat each one 3-7 times per 100 words of text - it's practically impossible. Instead, pick two or three of your most important keywords and try to use them 3-7 times for every 100 words.

Keyword Frequency

Keyword frequency is a measure of the number of times keywords occur within a page's text. It's tied to the concept of keyword density. Search engines want to see more than one repetition of a keyword in your text to make sure it's not an isolated case. The recommended repetition is again 3-7 times.

Avoid spam

Do not ever be tempted to use tiny or invisible text to put keywords at the beginning of your pages. Search engines define this behavior as spam and can reject your site for it.

The Meta Tag and Keywords

What is the meta description tag and why should I use it?

The meta description tag describes your site's content, giving search engines' spiders an accurate summary filled with multiple keywords. Meta tags are hidden in a document's source and are invisible to the reader. Some search engines however, are able to incorporate the content of meta tags into their algorithms. No engines penalize sites that use meta tags properly, so it is highly recommended that you always include them. In fact, it’s inclusion is important simply because it's the only tag supported by some engines.

The meta description tag and search engines

A meta description tag can boost your rankings on some engines.

Yet another reason the meta description tag is important is that some engines use it as a site's summary on their results pages. Under these circumstances, the reader may actually see this hidden tag, sp ensure its contents are enticing to the reader.

Keywords in the meta description tag

The meta description tag should contain multiple keywords organized in a logical sentence. Place the keywords at the beginning of your description and close to each other to achieve the best possible rankings.

The length of the meta description tag

Search engines vary in their preferred size for meta tags. Try to use the smaller number, 150 characters, for your site. Never make your meta tag more than 250 characters long because some results pages will cut it off.

Avoid spam

Avoid repeating keywords more than 7 times in your meta description. Some search engines consider it to be spam.

Seeing all this, you will appreciate why keywords are so vital to search engine optimization. Therefore, to optimize your business and users’ searches, ensure that you thoroughly research your keywords and get your gold at the end of the rainbow – in this case, a high search engine ranking.

By Shanti Anne Morais