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Thinking about keywords

From: Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO

Video: Thinking about keywords

Keywords are the very foundation of SEO. If you don't understand your keywords, you can't effectively promote a site through search engine optimization. What do we mean by keywords? They're the woods that people type into the search engines, in response to which the search engines return a page of search results, which may include your site, but if you haven't thought of that keyword, probably won't. The keyword can be a single word or can be multiple words. I sometimes use the term 'keyword phrases' to mean multiword phrases typed into a search engine, but often we simply call the typed term, either one word or five, the keyword.

Thinking about keywords

Keywords are the very foundation of SEO. If you don't understand your keywords, you can't effectively promote a site through search engine optimization. What do we mean by keywords? They're the woods that people type into the search engines, in response to which the search engines return a page of search results, which may include your site, but if you haven't thought of that keyword, probably won't. The keyword can be a single word or can be multiple words. I sometimes use the term 'keyword phrases' to mean multiword phrases typed into a search engine, but often we simply call the typed term, either one word or five, the keyword.

It amazes me how often I run into people who've been promoting their sites from months or even years without ever doing a real keyword analysis. You really must spend some time, a few hours perhaps, playing around with keywords, trying to figure out what people are actually searching for. It's keywords that connect customers to your site. So if you get this wrong, you are making a big mistake, like a shoe store putting a pizza parlor sign outside. It's the shoe store sign that lets the customers know what you do. So using the wrong keywords in your site is like putting the wrong sign outside a brick-and-mortar store.

Years ago I did some work for an online university. There was a conflict within the organization between the web people and the academics. The academics had banned the use of the term 'online degree' from the web site, because they felt the term was degrading. Problem was, people who wanted to study for a degree mostly used the term 'online degree' in combination with the subject. This is a classic case of a disconnect, a rupture between the web site and terms the target audience was using in the search engines. Everyone assumes they know the keywords that are important. What I've learned over the years though, is that nobody knows the important keywords unless they have done an analysis.

If you don't do an analysis, two things will happen: First, you'll miss some really important terms, terms that people are using in the search engines but that you simply hadn't thought of. Second, the some of the words you think are important are not. So you'll be wasting time on terms that people are not using. How do you begin a keyword analysis? The first step is to guess. Write down the words you think are important, ask everyone on the project what terms they think are important, look at competitors' web sites, look at their source code, to the keywords meta tag for instance.

You'll end up with a list of terms that will act as the basis for your full keyword analysis, using a keyword analysis tool, a service that digs through actual search data to tell you what people are really looking for. We'll look at this in the next video. Let me reiterate. Do not skip the keyword analysis step. It's a shame to see people wasting so much time and energy going in the wrong direction when just a little keyword work can make all their efforts much more effective.

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Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO

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Peter Kent
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