Keywords are an amazing way to send search traffic to your website. What are keywords, how do they work, and how should you use them? Understanding keywords will help you create better, search engine-friendly Web content.

What Are Keywords?

In order for your website to have greater visibility in the search engine results pages, you want to design your site so that it is easily indexed by the search engines. That way, your website comes up in more relevant searches.

One of the ways search engines understand your website is by counting the occurrence of words or phrases. Words that appear frequently are considered “keywords.” When a user types that word or phrase into the search engine, your website appears in the search results.

Structuring Your Keywords

Let’s say you own a bike shop called Tom’s Bike Shop. Your keyword structure might look something this: a most important (focus) search phrase, three important ones, and a number of lesser search phrases.

Your focus keyword is “bike shop,” because that is how you want Google and other search engines to index your site. Your main keywords are “bike sales,” “bike parts” and “bike repair.” These phrases are both the most relevant and most popular.

Other keywords should be organized in a tree structure (a hierarchy or “taxonomy”) below one of the main keywords. For example, the keyword “accessories” would go under “parts,” and the keyword “flat tire” would go under “repair.”

  1. Bike Shop
    1. Bike Sales
    2. Bike Parts
      1. Accessories
    3. Bike Repair
      1. Flat Tire

Understanding Search Volume

The idea behind choosing your best keywords is understanding how customers will search for your products or services. Avoid using only industry-specific terms. Google’s free Keyword Planner Tool can provide search volume and keyword suggestions. Use this information to know which related terms are the most searched-for. (Be sure to use the words in your page content.)

https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner

You can also get some hints about best keywords by visiting your top competitors’ websites.

Targeting Current Trends

Another way you can use keywords is to target current trends. This type of search keyword may be anything from the latest breakthrough in your field to a new related product release. If you’re adding fresh content to your site with a blog or newsletter, you can target searches directly by using trending keywords.

Targeting Niche Markets

Keywords can also be used to target niche markets. Websites and Web stores work great for “long tail”-type marketing, because you have unlimited shelf space. In other words, you can generate content specifically for your 5%-10% niche markets, or even explore new niche markets. Long tail marketing is especially useful if you have many products or services to sell.

Using Your Keywords

Once you have determined your best keywords (your focus keyword and three main keywords), make sure those words and phrases appear in several places on your webpage. Text, not graphics.

You’ll often want to create separate pages for each keyword (separate pages for bike sales, bike parts, and bike repair). It’s important to use headings which contain your keywords. The keyword(s) should also appear in the page title, description and image tags.

Sample home page title: Bike Sales, Parts and Repair – Tom’s Bike Shop.

Always use relevant keywords. Don’t “stuff” your keywords into the content, or try to manipulate the search engine results. Remember that your content should be easily read and understood by a human being.

For help with keyword research and content production, contact Foothill Web.

Matt Cutts – How Search Works

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