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The Wrong Keyphrases Can Kill Your Search Campaign!
Posted on February 13, 2008
By Aimee Beck
They say the best place to start is at the beginning. And while that may sound cliché, it's true nonetheless. The beginning of a successful SEO copywriting strategy starts with in-depth keyphrase research (KPR). The keywords used in Web copy are what make a page relevant to the search engines and to the searchers.
So why is KPR so important to the overall success of a SEO campaign? I'll tell you.
When you dive into a SEO copywriting gig without properly researching keyphrases—the campaign will inevitably fall flat on its face. It's that simple. And here's why:
Keyphrase research gives you power—it lets you tap into your sixth sense, crawling inside the heads of both the search engines and the searchers. KPR is, in a way, a mind-reading tool giving you access to how users are thinking when they search online. Once you understand the thought process behind how searchers are thinking when they use the Internet to find stuff, keyphrase research will help you zero in on the target audience and feed them the info they're looking for.
Somewhere along my travels, I heard someone compare KPR to GPS. You start with basic information, plug it in to a tool and you're pointed in the right direction. It's a brilliant analogy. Here is a quick checklist of tools I like to use in the early stages of my keyphrase research—long before I start strategizing:
Quick Insider's Tip: When you right click on a web page and highlight "view source," a notepad file will open up showing the page's HTML code. That's where you'll find the keywords tag, which looks like this: < "meta name="keywords" content="insert keyphrases here, and here, and here.">
Now that know a little more about some of the industry's top KPR tools, let's answer some common KPR questions.
What happens when you have a popular keyphrase with multiple meanings?
Let's say you've done the KPR and you find that "backyard patio" is a highly searched term. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's right for the page. If you type "backyard patio" into Google, you'll see websites about backyard photography, concrete patio building companies, and even home and garden TV shows.
The ultimate goal with a search campaign is to achieve top positions in the engines for highly relevant keyphrases. If your keyphrases are irrelevant, you won't reach the right audience. And if you don't reach the right audience, you won't convert. So what good are rankings without conversions? Think about who your audience is, then research and choose specific keyphrases that match.
What about misspellings?
This is a common pitfall to avoid. Best practices insist that you never, ever compromise the quality of your writing to suit the keyphrase. For example, "dictionery" is a highly searched term according to keyworddiscovery.com. Would you trust a dictionary from a website that couldn't spell dictionery? Using a misspelling on a page simply because it gets a lot of searches doesn't give the website a very good reputation.
Spelling variations, on the other hand, are often acceptable. For instance, "email" and "e-mail" are both considered correct. Just avoid mixing the two together on the same page—that looks like a typo and again doesn't give a very good impression. Choose a spelling and stick with it.
What if the keyphrase gets a lot of hits and it makes sense for the page—but I just can't work it into the copy?
The painful answer to this (at least the rule I live by) is that if it doesn't work in the copy, it doesn't work. No matter how great the keyphrase, no matter how popular it is, if you can't make it work in a sentence, don't use it. Sometimes it hurts to toss out the keyphrase you so desperately want to use. But if the term makes your copy sound stilted, choppy or grammatically incorrect, you might get a higher ranking but you'll lose out on the conversion. And in my opinion, it's just not worth the risk.
All of these tips and guidelines are meant for the initial keyphrase research stage of the SEO campaign—before you start per-page keyphrase strategy. Once you've done the ground work, the strategy phase is really fun and creative!
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