Imagine a search engine spider or robot as a giant filter or colander. It pours your web pages through the colander and all the stuff it decides is useless is left in the colander and the useful stuff pours through, entering their searchable database ready for the search engine user to sift through with their own colander and criteria. Your goal in designing your web pages is to create content that will pass through the colander holes to the search engine databases.
We will discuss how to create a keyword list for the entire site and narrow it down for specific web pages, how to research keywords as used by competitors, how to use keywords to write your content, and a variety of tips and tricks involving the use of keywords within a web page.
Keywords are words used in the content of your page that are associated with the topic of your content. For instance, as nature photographers, we work hard to get the words “nature” and “photography” into our documents, writing about nature and photography and nature photography topics. A search engine database sifts through your content to find the important words most used and stores that information. The better you use keywords inside your web page, the more you help the search engine recognize the subject matter and store it accordingly.
Creating Your Keyword List
As mentioned in our article on getting ready for search engines, keywords play a vital role in helping search engines categorize your content and help searchers find your page. To create a keyword list make a list of all the words you think should be within your site or web page. If the page is already written, check the keywords by running it through a keyword checking online program like Word Counter to find out if the words used within your content match your list.
This is the simplest way to check for keywords and the keyword count. Let’s look at a few other methods to develop your keyword list:
- Industry Terms
- What words are used when discussing your subject or business? Every industry has its own keywords. For a dentist, they might be teeth, tooth, hygiene, tooth decay, drill, filling, or mouth. For the nature photography industry, we use words like environment, nature, endangered species, protected, habitat, park, land, and so on. What are the keywords used within your industry to describe what you do?
- There are many ways to say the same thing and you want to make sure you optimize your keywords and content to match the different terms people will use when searching for your topic. In a nature photography business, we use words like nature, environment, plants, animals, landscape, and flowers. Are there other references or synonyms associated with same words?
nature environment plants animals landscape natural
- Top Searched Keywords
- Sometimes finding what the most searched for and popular keywords are will help you create your own. Overture’s Keyword Term Suggestions tool goes through the most requested search terms to find words similar to the keyword you are researching. Visit Yahoo, Google, and other web sites (listed below) to find out what the top searches are on their search engines. Just because a search term or word is popular doesn’t mean it applies to your site. Brittany Spears continues to be top of the web searches for over five years, but will putting Brittany’s name in your page a few times help you reach to the top search results for “Brittany Spears”? Unless your page is completely dedicated to the young diva, it won’t even come close.
More appropriately, you will find some words that do apply to you. For instance, we specialize in nature and travel photography, and travel is hot right now. How is travel information searched for? We found the top keywords included travel insurance, travel agency, travel agent, travel tours, travel plans, air travel, car travel, travel arrangements, hotel travel..etc. This will give you some hints for word phrases to include on your page and maybe an article or two to include in your content.
- Who is Your Audience?
- Different groups of people use different words to say the same thing. Who is the intended audience of your web page? If it is designed for the academic and technically inclined groups, using the proper terminology will be critical to attracting their attention. But what about the rest of us? Someone serious about nature photography will call it “nature photography”. People who are curious about it might call it “nature pictures”, “photography”, or “taking pictures of animals”. Consider your audience and the words they will use to search for your page.
- Ask Others
- Take time to ask others what they think are the keywords that describe your content? Friends, professionals, co-workers, and family all have something to say about what you do and why. So ask them. You might be surprised at the many ways people have to describe the different things we humans do. This is also a way of finding out how people would search for you if they wanted to find you on a search engine. Go on, ask them what words they would use to find your web page if they were searching on a search engine.
What are the competitors using?
If your competitors or similar sites to yours are moving up the ranks in the search engines, what words are they using and how are they using them? Spend some time visiting their sites to get a feel for how they are working. Lift the hood to check the engine underneath (their coding) by clicking on VIEW, SOURCE on the Internet Browser menu bar. Even if you aren’t familiar with HTML coding, you can search the meta tags at the beginning of the document and look for their keywords and description. Then go back to the graphically pretty page and read through the content. How are they using those words from their keywords and descriptions? How redundant are they? A lot, a little, somewhere in between? Pay attention because they are doing something “write”.
With modern technology, there are web sites that can help you check out what keywords a site is using. Run their pages through the keyword density checkers to find out what words they are using and how frequently. Compare their results with yours and consider the changes you have to make to raise your keyword density.
Keywords Help You Write
Once we started seriously considering how we used keywords in our online documents, our writing actually improved. We make a list of the keywords that should be in our topic and then kept the list nearby for a reference as we wrote. We kept thinking “How can we incorporate these words into the article while still attaining the goals of the article?” We found that it helped outline and organize our thoughts, keeping our minds focused on the quality material we want to release and not on all the tangents.
Researching the top keywords on related topics gave us lots of ideas for related article possibilities, too. For instance, searching for the top searched keywords associated with travel, we are now considering articles associated with renting an RV, renting a car, making travel arrangements through the Internet, and more. The ideas are now spilling out all over the place, giving us the chance to be of even more value to our users.
Once you have written the article, run it through a keyword checker like Word Counter before pasting the content into your web page layout. Are your goal keywords matching the results? If not, consider changing your keywords or rewriting the material so they better represent your topic goal.
Keyword Tips and Tricks
The following is information you need to know to help you get the most value from the keywords inside your web page:
- Match Keyword Tag with Content
- List your keywords in the Meta Tag in your web page
HEADfor keywords, as shown below. If the keyword list in the Meta Tag does not match the words within your content, a search engine robot or spider can detect something wrong and this could lead to your page receiving a low rating, being skipped, or ignored all together.
<meta name="keywords" content="web, web page design, layout, design, internet, web site, web site, validate, validation, keywords, search, search engine, optimize, html, css, meta tags, access, accessibility">
- Count the Keywords
- With your new keywords in place, check your pages to determine how rich your keyword count and density is. Too many references? Then edit your material and use synonyms. Too few? Consider how you could change the text to increase the ratio, or put the appropriate new keywords into your keyword list.
Keywords Found ElsewhereKeywords are found in the meta tags and from word popularity within your page’s content, as well as inside image (IMG) tags and headings. They are also found within the page’s meta tags description and title. They can also be found within your URL (web page address). For instance, an article on digital photography could have the url of:
www.mysite.com/ learn/digital/ digitalhowto.html
to further enhance its search engine ranking.
- Keyword to Content Ratio
- While you are working hard to fill your content with as many repetitions of your keywords as possible, you can cross a line. Search engines calculate how often a word is used alongside other words. For instance, if you use the word “welcome” in a sentence such as “You are very welcome to visit our welcome page today”, the word “welcome” would be used in two out of ten words or have a keyword density of 20%. From among 100 other words, it would have a 2% density. According to experts, having a keyword density of a particular word should be less than 12%, though many recommend 3-10% to be safe. Many keyword validators provide keyword density percentages, so check with these to be sure.
- Keywords in Meta Tag
- On average, most search engines permit up to about 900 characters or 25 words in your keyword meta tag. Some search engines permit up to 1200 characters, but many do not. They will cut off their database gathering at whatever their limit is, but if they detect you have too many characters or words in your meta tag, they might decline your site, so stay within the limits.
- Keep Keywords Distant
- Search engines can tell when they are being “spammed”, flooded with too many keywords in order to force the web page to be recognized. One of the triggers for this spamming is when a keyword is used too many times too close together. For instance, the sentence “Nature photography is the photography of nature subjects” might trigger a warning. If I change the sentence to “The art of nature photography is photographing natural subjects”, there is now enough words and changes in the words to make it appear like these words are in a sentence, part of the overall content and not an attempt to spam.
- Keep Keywords on Top
- Keep the keywords in your content towards the top of your page code as most search engine robots rarely search past 25-50% of the total page. This puts your most valuable search engine keyword criteria up where they can find it.
- Keywords are Everywhere
- Keywords are not limited to those found within your keyword meta tag or content. Some search engines will pick up keywords from within image
ALTtags, comments, link
TITLEtags, and through the web page’s
DESCRIPTIONmeta tags. Look through your code carefully to see where you can add some keyword references.
- Some Keywords Score Higher
- Some search engines give extra points if the keywords in your meta tags are found within header tags. If keywords are found within the page title, page description, and the headers, you can score big with search engines.
- Mizzpell a Few Words and Use Plurals
- Not everyone can spell so think about the different ways people may spell some of your key words. For example, there is much debate about whether “web site” or “web site” is the current spelling. According to Webster’s, the correct spelling is “web site”. So include both spellings in your keywords tag to cover all your bases. Don’t use misspelled words within your content but do list them in your keywords. Also considering using plural versions of your keywords as many searchers think if they are looking for more than one result, they had better look for “web pages” instead of “web page”.
Keywords – Resources and Suggestions
- Lycos Top 50 Searches
- Yahoo’s Most Asked Questions in 2003
- Yahoo’s Buzz Index – Top Searches of the Year
- 2003 BBC News E-cyclopedia’s Glossary Popular New Words and Phrases of the Year
- AskJeeves Search Results
- Ask Jeeves IQ (Interesting Queries) Top Searches
- Top in 2003 Year in Review Lists – Extensive
- Overview of keywords, browsers, etc. on Google.com
- Top Keyword Searches
- Google’s Keyword Sandbox
- Keyword Thesaurus and Suggestions
- Thesaurus.com – Look up synonyms
- Top Ten Word Lists of 2003 by Your Dictionary
- Keyword Map
Keyword – Testers and Checkers
- Enginemage’s Keyword Suggestions Tool (returns keyword, domain name, and meta tag suggestions)
- Keyword Counter
- Keyword Density Checker *****
- Keyword Validators with Search Engines
- Ranks.nl Keyword Density and Prominence*****
- Search Engine World Keyword Density Analyzer****
- Search Engine Optimization Tools – Similar Page Checker
- Webjectives Keyword Density Analyzer
- Webmaster Toolkit’s Web Page Analyser for Search Engine Keywords
- Word Counter ***