Friday, May 21, 2010

Keywords: Search Engine Optimization Basics

When designing a website, search engine optimization needs to be a top priority. Search engines such as Google, rank websites using specific algorithms which consider keywords, relevance and popularity. The higher the ranking, the closer to the top a website will appear on the results page. Keywords play a significant role in ranking a website, no matter what search engine is used. When designing or updating your website, it is important that you are selecting relevant keywords or phrases because they will help to determine the visibility of the site when a search is performed.   

When trying to determine which keywords or phrases to select, it is important to be as specific as possible to the content on your site. Once you have a list of keywords generated you can use utilities such as the Google Keyword Tool to evaluate the popularity of the term and how frequently it is searched. Where many companies are missing the mark is in their organic search results. Billions of dollars are being spent by Fortune 500 companies on paid search term. However these keywords are not landing these companies’ websites high in the natural/unpaid search results. Over 52% of Fortune’s 500 largest companies have no organic search visibility when their keywords are queried. Organic search rankings are important because studies show that 80% of users’ clicks occur on the natural search results rather than the sponsored links.[1] 

Not only are the keywords themselves important, the location of the keywords is also a significant factor to a website’s rating. Keywords should be located in the domain name, page titles, headlines, links, copy, meta tags, etc. The specific algorithms used by search engines give different weights to the location of the keywords, and this helps to determine ranking.  

Many companies have found it useful to diversify their selection of keywords to help cut costs and to stay ranked higher than competitors. This expansion includes bidding on keywords that may be misspelled or mistyped. If a word is commonly misspelled, it might be in the best interest of the business to bid on that keyword in order to be assured that they will still appear in the generated results.  

Search engine optimization is an on-going process. Websites, specifically e-commerce and those that want to attract high traffic volume, need to make sure that their keywords and phrases are frequently monitored and updated. 

[1] The Internet and Marketing Report. “When Fortune 500 flunks, you win”. March 5, 2010

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