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Search Engine Secrets
Web Site Promotion - Search Engine Tips
choosing best keywords, phrases

Search Engine Secrets - manipulating with keywords and phrases
Choosing Keywords / Phrases - very important!

101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site - bookThere are several things to consider when choosing keywords and phrases.   The most important is to put yourself in the shoes of the type of visitor you want to attract.  Make a list of what kind of keywords or phrases they are likely to search on.  This requires you to separate yourself from your product, service or web site and think like the average Joe who might want to find you, but knows nothing about your site.

It's a good idea to ask friends or co-workers what they might type in to find your site, or even have them go to a search engine and tell them to try and find information on the topic your site happens to cover.  Watch what words and phrases they use.

Important things you want to remember when picking keywords to target:

1.    CONCEPTS:  Include concept keywords such as "accounting software" if that's what you sell, but also try and be specific enough so that it's not too broad.

2.    BRANDS:  Include more specific brand names such as Quicken. If you offer services, then try to use service brand names when possible. Legally, you should put the reserved symbol or ™ trademark symbol after the names when mentioning them on the page.

3.    COMPANY NAMES:  If you offer products from a well-known company, include that company's name in your keywords.

4.    YOUR NAME:  Unless you are a well known company/organization such as Microsoft or Hewlett Packard, its generally less important to emphasize your name as a keyword.  You should, however, setup an "About My Company/Organization" page that does repeat your name many times so that someone searching for you'll find that page.

5.    COMMON WORDS:  There are now so many pages and words indexed on the Web, that a search on many common words such as "software" or "Internet" are going to be completely ignored for that search by the engine!  Therefore, most people have to search on two or three word phrases to find what they're looking for.  Trying to be listed well on every phrase / keyword combination they might search for is next to impossible. 

6.    TEST KEYWORDS:  Ideally, before you even start a new Internet Web site (or even after), you should see how many other pages match the keywords people would likely search on to find you.  The fewer matches found for your search, the easier it will be to get your name up near the top.   Also important are the quality of the matches that appear.  Your keywords may only bring up a lot of garbage that your potential audience would have no interest in anyway.  Therefore, with the proper strategy, you could be the only site of your type that appears near the top of that search.  There may be phrases that people are likely to search for which are much easier to achieve good rankings on than more common words and phrases.  This strategy can gain you unexpected traffic.

7.    PHRASES: As mentioned, many people will likely use multiple word phrases to find you particularly when single words do not provide adequate scope for the search.  The syntax for this varies by engine but generally phrases are searched for by surrounding them with quotes.  Therefore, make a list of 2-3 word phrases people are likely to search for.  When placing keywords on your page, make sure you always include them in a phrase that the visitor might use.

Keep the important words chained together in sentences on the page.  If the user searches on "KEYWORD1" AND "KEYWORD2" then you only have to have the words in the same proximity on the page.  If, however, they search on "KEYWORD1 KEYWORD2" along with the surrounding quotes, then the words MUST be together on your page, preferably multiple times to find a match. Therefore, it's a good idea to create a Mission to monitor your position for both "baseball cards" and just baseball cards as an example.

Optimizing your page for phrase searches can do wonders in helping people find you.   It's often difficult to rank well for popular keywords.  However, few sites make serious efforts to optimize for common phrases, leaving you with great opportunities to increase your traffic!

Side Note:  several web site statistics programs will now tell you which keyword / phrase a user typed in a search engine to find you.  This is often helpful in understanding which positions are pulling the best.

8.    CASE-SENSITIVITY:  If the user types the word Baseball then most engines will search for "Baseball" with an uppercase "B" ONLY.  If your page has only "baseball" in it, you'll not be found!  On the other hand, if they search for "baseball" and your page has "Baseball" on it, most engines default to finding words of any case when the keyword used was in all lower case.  Therefore, it pays to make sure you have at least some of the keywords in uppercase or starting with an uppercase letter if the user might search that way.  The easiest place to do this is in the title of the page, in meta tags, and at the beginning of sentences.

9.    BAD SPELLING CAN BE GOOD:  Search engines don't have spell checkers.  Also, product names can have slight variations.  For example, MicroLogic has a product called Info Select.  However, people could easily search on MicroLogic, Micro Logic, Infoselect, or Info Select.  Look for obvious mistakes people are likely to make and then incorporate some of them into one of your pages in some way to pick up traffic you'd otherwise miss.

10.    LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION:  Most people visit a search engine when they are looking for a product or service of some sort and conduct a search on a rather broad topic.  Someone looking to buy a house in their own town might type the keywords, "real estate" into the search engine.   When they are returned a list of web sites starting in Alaska showing all the real estate in the world, over 300,000 sites from Alaska to Wyoming, they quickly see the value of narrowing their query.  The next search they conduct will be something like, "Arizona Real Estate."  This will give them something more manageable.

What this should tell any web marketer promoting any product of regional significance is to "regionalize" their site description and keywords where appropriate.  A Realtor client of mine learned that by keeping her site title and description stuffed with "AZ" and "Arizona," she ranked well above other similar sites who didn't pay attention to this technique.

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Brian Taylor ... Web Site Developer in Seattle Washington