SEO: Choosing your Keywords

Choosing keywords is not an easy task and must be approached with much care. If you are planning on relying on search engines to generate traffic and visitors it is essential that you are targeting the right keywords and keyphrases for your target marketing, otherwise people may be landing on your site who are looking for something completely different. It is a common belief that most website traffic will come from a handful of 2-3 word phrases. But if a website has a lot of good information and is content rich, then traffic can be generated from hundreds of search terms, many 4+ words in length (commonly called long-tail search terms).

Choosing the right keywords

So forgetting about long-tail searches for the time being, it is best to choose phrases that are around 2-4 words and accurately describe your website’s offerings in general everyday language that people are most likely to search. One thing you must bear in mind is how competitive those keywords are. If your keywords are very general and not targeted enough, then it is likely that they will be too competitive and ranking on the first page will be very difficult. Even if you do rank well for a competitive search term, it is quite likely that your traffic may not convert as people are very often searching for something specific. But do consider that if your keywords are too specific your site will be harder to find, resulting in fewer visitors to your site through search engines.

A good tool to use for researching your keywords is the Google AdWords Tool. You can type in your desired keywords and the tool will tell you how competitive they are and how many searches a month they receive.

Remember that search engines rank pages, not whole websites, so you needto target different keywords on different pages and not the same keywords on all pages. You might go for a more general term on your home page, and more specific terms on sub pages.

Common mistakes when selecting keywords:

Implementing your keywords

Generally search engines will pick up your site’s keywords and keyphrases from your page’s title, meta description and the actual content on the page. Some search engines still use meta keywords as a ranking factor, but due to keywords stuffing search engines have noted them as being less trustworthy.

You must ensure that you do not overuse your keywords on either your page title, meta description or your content. This could be seen as spamming to the search engines and may result in your website being penalised and hurt your rankings. Your content must be seen to read naturally, and not be stuffed with keywords for the purpose of SEO. Search engines want your website and its content to be created for the benefit of the visitor, so must be interesting, informative and not spammy!

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