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Search Engine Tactics
(v. 2.2)

3.  Keyword Selection


T
he next step in manipulating the search engines is keyword selection. Keywords must be both relevant and frequently used.

What do I mean by relevance? If you own a website about "marketing" and your website comes up first in an Alta Vista search for "alternative medicine", you will get some visits from this. You'll get them, but they won't do you any good.

The term "alternative medicine" is indeed frequently used. But its relevancy to marketing is questionable.

Chances are, you are trying to sell a product or attract certain interest groups with your site. The visits you get based on the "alternative medicine" searches will be irrelevant. If you are selling marketing products or services, I sincerely doubt any of these visitors will be interested in your products.

Now, if you simply want visits for the sake of visits (for instance, if you are selling ad views on your site), then it doesn't matter where these hits come from. See "What Keywords Work."  However, it's generally unacceptable to try to get traffic for keywords that are not relevant to your site.  Not only will engines ban you if you're caught, it is generally "uncool".  The engines are there to help people find what they are looking for.  If people try to subvert the quality of the engines then the experience is spoiled for everyone.

If you are looking for relevant visits (I hope you are), then you need to be more careful in your selection. Relevant visits equal more chances for sales and more chances for return visits.

In this section we'll show you how to select relevant keywords. In the following sections we'll show you how to apply them. This may not make sense now, but it will pay off later.

Let's take the case of a site featuring water faucets. The initial list of keywords the owner devised consisted of repeating the term "water faucet" 100 times. Makes sense, right? Well he's making several mistakes here and not taking full advantage of keyword power. (Not to mention the fact that excessive repetition is considered "spam" by most engines.) Here are some rules he's ignoring and how he can be applying them:

  1. Use Plurals
    If you pluralize your words, those who search for the singular and plural will both find your site. In this case he should have written "water faucets".

  2. Diversify
    One word alone will get a few people, but not everyone thinks like you do. Try to get into the mind of someone who would find your site/product useful. In this case, he could have used words like "plumbing", "home improvement", "sinks", "kitchens", "bathrooms", "plumbers", etc.

  3. Don't Repeat Excessively
    Some search engines are beginning to filter out sites that repeat words too much. I repeat about 2-5 times and leave it at that. Most sites will recognize this. Keep an eye out for word on policy changes.

  4. Use Varying Forms
    Not everyone is going to write "water faucet" as you see here. Right or wrong, there are many people out there that will search for "water-faucet" or "waterfaucet." It probably seems silly to you, but it will make perfect sense to someone else. In this case it probably won't be so important, but what if you are offering an IQ test? You would be wise to use both "I.Q. tests" and "IQ tests".

  5. Use Power Combinations
    This refers to economy of space. Some sites will only look at the first 250 characters or so of a keyword list (in meta tags). To use the space more effectively you can combine two combinations. For example, if the site here also offers bottled spring water, they need to include that in their list. Instead of writing "bottled spring water" and "water faucets" they can combine the two and simply say "bottled spring water faucets". This way people searching for both keyword combinations will pull up the page with less space used. This frees up some more space for more keywords.

  6. Use Phrases
    In a recent study conducted by one of the major search engines, it was revealed that over 65% of all searches made use phrases rather than single words.

  7. Target No More Than Four Keywords or Phrases Per Page
    If you try to target more, your page will lose relevancy for all words concerned. Each search engines looks at only a certain portion of your page. Don't waste that space! The more pages your site has, the more keywords you will be able to target....

Now, take a moment to write down the keywords related to your site. Once you have generated a list. Ask yourself: "What would someone who would benefit from my site be looking for"? Then add the results.

Show your list to your friends and colleagues. See if they have anything to add.

An interesting test may involve asking people the above question without showing them your list. Ask as many people as you can. Compare the lists. The phrases or words that show up the most are likely to coincide with the most "frequently used" words on the search engines.

Are you excited? You should be.

Next --->

[ Home | The Basics | Analysis | Keyword Selection | Meta Tags | Hidden Input | Invisible Keyword Stuffing | The Title | Know the Different Search Engines | What Keywords Work? | Multiple Pages | How to Submit | Tracking Your Progress | Further Study ]

Be sure to check out the Search Engine Tactics forum at the Internet Marketing Library!  You can find the latest tips and tricks there.

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