Posted on January 30, 2001
by MerleUsing the right keywords in your site's meta tags won't shoot you to the top of the search engines, but if done correctly can help in achieving a better ranking. When choosing keywords, you need to think like your users: What words might they type into a search engine to find a site such as yours. There's a nifty online tool that will help you choose keywords, go to KeywordDiscovery's Keyword Research Tool and use the free trial if you need help brainstorming.
You're much better off to use two and three word combinations than single keywords. That's because there's less competition for keyword *phrases*. That's what search engine users tend to type in order to get more targeted results.
Example: "software" (hard - less targeted)
"Drafting Software" (good - more targeted)
Start compiling your list of good keywords by writing down every possible word someone might use when searching for your website. Try to come up with at least 40, then go back through the list and start "piecing" your phrases together for use on your site. Include common mis-spellings of your keywords, as the competition is also less fierce.
There are other places on your site where you'll want to include and repeat your most important keywords ("key- phrases"). Use them in your title tag <Title> as well as the title itself -- always try to start your title with a keyword and repeat it a second or third time for higher relevancy. Many people overlook the title tag as unimportant, but the truth is search engines do look at it and weigh it when ranking your site.
You also want to use keywords in your <description> meta tags. Again, try to repeat them two or three times if you can do so without compromising the description. Remember that the length of the description tag is best kept at under 25 words. If it's too long it will just get cut off by the search engines and not look very good when it's listed.
For some reason the search engines also like the <H1> tag, so if possible use it at the top of your pages with your keywords inside. Most search engines read the first 250 words of text on the page, so keep this in mind when writing your web page copy and if possible, use your most important keywords inside the first paragraph of your body copy.
Two other places that are often overlooked when it comes to keywords are your graphic <alt> tags and in your page names. Alt tags are where web designers write a short description of pictures used on the pages. This is done as a convenience for those who surf the Web with graphics turned off. Make sure you include your most important keywords inside these tags, as search engines will look at them and some do use it when deciding ranking.
Use your keyword phrases in your page names. For example: If one of my key phrases was haircuts for kids, one of my page names should be haircutsforkids.htm
One more note: If you haven't purchased a domain yet it's best to buy one that includes one of your keywords for higher relevancy. For example if you sold jewelry and your company name was "Blaise & Company " you'd be better off to buy BlaiseJewelry.com than just blaiseandcompany.com The search engines like domains with keywords in them and besides, it's a better description of what you do.
Remember, keywords aren't a magical solution, but if you put
some thought into it, and include them in as many places as
possible of your site, you'll find you get a much better
ranking than if you hadn't given it any thought at all. When
it comes to the search engine wars every little bit counts.
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