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Getting Found Online: Keywords

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Jan 31, 2012 9:45:00 AM

This is a 3 minute read.

Keywords matter for getting found onlineDo you spend time thinking about 'keywords'? In the digital world, keywords are critical. They define our business, the solutions we offer and our relevance to potential customers. They unlock meaning!

Keywords affect our ability to get found online. The right ones can be elusive, especially if the solution offered represents a problem prospects may not realize they have, let alone search for on an ongoing basis.

Once identified, keywords become a beacon for conversation, website content, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and blog updates. They become measurable and the basis for ongoing improvement. Keywords bring meaning to digital and social marketing.

And, yet, keywords can be confusing.

Here are my 10 tips and observations about keywords, how to make sense of them and identify them, and how to use them effectively to get found online.

1. Keywords can be single words or multiple words [i.e., phrases] that relate to a core word. Example: 'books' vs. 'books by Jane Austen'. Pick 3 to 5 relevant to your business. These should not include your business or brand name. Focus instead on words/phrases that capture what your business or product/service is about.

2.  Keywords can help you get found online when you thoughtfully and deliberately focus on one keyword or phrase per web page [this includes blog articles]. You can include variations related to your one keyword. I think of that primary keyword as my thesis or core topic for a web page.

3. Be sure to include that core keyword in your web page's meta description and page title - in position #1 - and in your content. Your entire page should be about the keyword you have chosen to focus on, making sense of it and the value you offer to your visitors. In other words, write for people! [Note: 'meta' data can be viewed by right-clicking on your browser page and selecting 'view page source'.]

4. Although no longer an element of the Google search algorithm, including meta keywords forces you to think about and identify the keywords you intend to focus on for that web page. That in turn puts you in a better position to create content focused on the core thought/keyword of the page in a way that makes sense to readers and visitors. [An excellent guide is Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.]

5. Don't forget to add <alt> tags that include your keyword to photos and images. Be thinking, too, of keywords in your headers and anchor text [i.e., the text you use for a link - don't use 'click here' when you can have more descriptive and keyword rich text].

6. Keywords require that you understand the value you offer customers, that you listen to the terms they use. Always ask: how did you find me? What words did you use to search for me? Be aware of the stages of the purchase process and the words prospects use as a result. Don't forget regional differences affecting how visitors search [e.g., read Liana Evans Blends Social Media & Search For Greater Marketing Impact].

7. How to find keywords:

  • Google analytics will show what terms visitors use now to find you. Be aware that searches using your name represent people who know you already. These may also be visitors who are ready to buy.
  • Google Adwords offers a tool to explore terms based on a URL as well as search terms. The results can be downloaded into an excel spreadsheet.
  • Don't forget: 'Google suggest' and 'Google related terms' for ideas.

8. Pick your focus keywords based on relevance to your business and customers and difficulty. Realize that words with huge search volume results are hard to rank for, whereas ones with small search volume are much easier.  Also realize that general, generic terms [i.e., single words such as 'book'] aren't necessarily relevant to your business and customers.

9. Tools like SpyFu show what terms you rank for so you can validate whether what you think your site focuses on is what it ranks for.

10. Publishing blog articles allows you to focus on a specific keyword topic exclusively and build content that makes meaning for a reader. Blog articles allow you to address issues of relevance to a persona [i.e., type of visitor at a certain point in the buying cycle] and address the questions s/he has.

What would you add? How do you use keywords to get found online?


Image credit: Keys on Flickr

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Topics: customer experience, SEO & Search Tips

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