In just about every one of my posts so far I’ve stressed the importance of keywords. As I’ve said before, keywords are the cornerstone of SEO. Without well-crafted and thoroughly researched keywords it’s going to be hard to maximize a website’s exposure through search engines. Think of keywords as search terms; what gets typed into Google needs to be found on your site if you want to rank for that search term. Keywords aren’t just one word but can range from one word all the way up to full sentences. Typically, some of the strongest keywords are two to three words in length. These keywords just don’t need to be on your site, they need to be fully integrated into your website. For maximum success your website/blog needs to live breathe and be one with the keywords.
When to start the keyword process?
Keywords need to be thought of and developed way before a website is even designed or built out. Whether a new site is getting created or an old site is getting redone, both scenarios offer up great opportunities to get a site aligned with searchable terms. In both situations, the greatest success will occur when a keyword friendly site structure, design, content and development techniques are implemented. In some cases for existing sites starting with a clean slate and a complete “redo” from the ground up is necessary to fully get every aspect of a website in line with keywords.
Selecting and determining keywords
During the keyword phase of a website, one of the first questions we like to ask a client is “what do you want to rank for?” The answers to this question give us a starting point for what keywords we should begin to research. For existing sites, with existing content, we like to go through the site as well and pull out overarching themes and what terms we think the content represents. With these two “buckets” of terms, we can now turn to some powerful keyword research tools to help us determine what keywords are the right fit for a website.
Tons of keyword research tools exist, but the basic premise behind them is that they report how many searches occur for a particular term, how many other pages are using your term and the overall competition for a term. A good keyword will be highly searched but have low competition to it. Terms that have high search volume and high competition to it will be harder to rank for.
Sitemap creation: keywords = site structure
Keywords should dictate your site structure; we like to view keywords as specific pages or posts on a website. One keyword term should equal one page/post and each page should be specific to its subject matter. Having multiple keywords and subjects on one page will confuse the search engine bots and render poor rankings. After determining and analyzing what keywords a site should rank for, a keyword sound site structure needs to be developed and planned out.
Now what? Integrating keywords into a website
By this point in the process, strong keywords that have good ranking opportunities have been determined and a keyword friendly site structure has been created around them. The next phase of a keyword is physically getting them into the website. This phase encompasses areas in the development world as well as the copywriting side of the site. A good copywriter is a must for this phase and beyond the content of a website, these carefully selected keywords need to be in the key areas listed below. All these little elements work together in order to provide the search engine bot with a clear idea on what your site/page is all about.
- Domain Name: Keywords in a sites domain name will rank better for those terms. Before a new domain is purchased, consider a keyword rich domain.
- URL: A sites url structure needs to be page specific and keyword rich, these urls need to be readable to humans and search engines. Unfriendly url: http:///www.domain.com/00145.php?id=39
Friendly url: http:///www.domain.com/keyword-rich-term/
- Page Titles: Page titles are the links you click on from a Google results page
- Page Descriptions: The 160 character description below the page title on a search results page
- Navigation: Navigation reflects the keyword rich site structure created earlier
- Content: Content needs to be specific to the page and reflect the page titles and descriptions
- Heading tags: These occur in the content as well, but on the HTML side of things. For headings, sub-heads and beyond use H1 through H6 tags to provide a hierarchical approach to a site’s content.