When I was a kid, the magic words were always “Please” and “Thank You.” The magic words today? Well, they’re different for every client. Of course, I’m talking about keywords. In an SEO professional’s toolbox, keyword usage is perhaps the most powerful optimization tool of them all. In this blog, I’ll be giving a brief explanation of the importance of keywords in relation to SEO, and how best to use them to enhance your website’s search rankings.
A keyword is a term or phrase that people enter into search engines to find specific information. Most people enter search phrases between two and five words. Such phrases may also be called search phrases, keyword phrases, query phrases, or just keywords. We call them keywords at Firestarter. The search engine then comes back with a list of web pages that have content relevant to the keyword searched for. The purpose of SEO is to ensure that when customers search for keywords related to your business, your website appears at the top of the search results.
Good keyword phrases are specific and descriptive. If you owned a beauty salon, the words “salon” or “hair stylist” would be poor choices, as they are too broad and the competition for them is extremely high. Success for very popular one-word keywords is very difficult. It’s best to focus on less competitive, highly specific keywords that still drive a lot of traffic. For example, “Salon Denver” or “Hair Stylist Denver” or maybe even more specific like “professional colorists Denver” or “blow dry styling Denver”. These keywords are more customized and location based and would produce better results.
Also, remember to choose keywords that are highly relevant to the content of your website. You don’t want to pick random keywords and lead your visitor to a dead end. Give them the content they are really looking for. Once you’ve come up with a list of a few potential keyword phrases, run them past the Google keyword suggestion tool. This tool comes up with a list of related keywords that you can use and shows you the competition level, the estimated global search traffic and the estimated local search traffic. Remember, stick to only optimizing five to ten keywords total. Trying to cover too many is counter-productive.
Once you’ve determined the best target keywords, be sure to use them in the right quantity. Inserting your keywords all throughout your content with no rhyme or reason will actually decrease your website’s quality and rankings, not help it. Also be warned: Your web pages may be penalized by search engines if they think you’re trying to cheat the system. That frowned-upon practice is called ‘keyword stuffing.’ The recommended density is 3-7% for the major keywords and 1-2% for minor keywords. Going back to developing keywords, that’s why it makes sense to only focus on a handful of keywords. Choosing too many will make your content seem artificial and stuffed.
Where your keywords are placed within your website is also important. Be sure to use your keywords in the page title, the headings, and the first few paragraphs. These places are much more effective than using them at the very bottom of the page. Placing keywords in the URL, domain name, file names, page title, and title headings as well as in the body of the text will boost your rankings.
So, there you go. Some quick, in-a-nutshell, information about keywords. Of course, if it were all really that simple, I’d be out of a job. But I can’t give away all of my secrets! However, if you have any additional questions about keywords or keyword usage, feel free to drop us a note here. Or check out our keyword research services.