Keywords – The Phrase that Pays

This week, David Felfoli with Sherpa Web Studios spoke on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the importance of keywords.  He used the term “the phrase that pays” which really resonated with me.

The key to SEO is the keyword(s) – no pun intended.  Search Engines such as Yahoo, Google and Bing employ “robots” or “spiders” to crawl through the billions of pages of web sites to identify sites and include them in their databases.  These robots or spiders are software programs with proprietary ranking algorithms that search for text or keywords to analyze, index, rank and catalog.  They search and analyze both the visible text and the invisible text including the web site’s content, the HTML page title, meta tags, the text inside your links and the navigation text that tells your visitors how to use your site.

Find the phrase that paysHow do you select keywords? Find that phrase that pays? With industry knowledge and a deep understanding of the message your web site is conveying, you need to select some generic keywords that describe your site.  You can research, validate and augment this list with a keyword tool such as Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool.  Additionally, you look at Pay per Click information using Google’s Search Based Keyword Tool.  Once you have found “the phrase that pays”, you can strategically place these words, with reasonable repetition, in both visible and invisible locations.

The most important component of your SEO campaign is your web site’s content.  It must be compelling, clear, focused and directed to your visitors. Purposefully including your keywords in your content is the first step in web site optimization and will provide you with the most return since content driven keywords are favored by search engine algorithms. According to David, frequently using your keywords is best.  Known as keyword density, this will improve your ranking with search engines.  Second, make sure you use your keywords in the first 200 words.  This is known as keyword placement.

The second step involves strategic placement of keywords in the HTML page title, the Hx tags and the meta description tag.  Not only are these elements indexed by the search engine crawlers, but they are also displayed on the results page of a user initiated search.  The most important of these is the HTML page title since it gets top billing on the results page. It should be succinct, compelling and keyword rich while accurately summarizing the page content.  The meta description tag may or may not be displayed.  However, it should be treated like the page title and be compelling, unique for every page and include your keywords.

And finally, the third step involves populating the meta keywords tag with keywords and variations of the keywords, such as misspellings, that wouldn’t be appropriate for the content, HTML page title or meta description tag. However, search engines are aware that this component has been misused and can be overpopulated or “stuffed” with unrelated words, so the meta keywords tag doesn’t carry as much weight with search engine algorithms.

In summary, careful keyword selection is the key to effective SEO.  Once you have found “the phrase that pays”, you can use good SEO methods and strategically place it throughout your website, in both the visible and invisible locations.

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About Susan
I'm a wife, mother and student living in the suburbs of Atlanta. After 20 years in corporate IT, I am currently working for a non-profit as Director of Operations.

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