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Content Is King: Get Those Keywords

If your home page was adequately designed to present and project the message of your organization, then creating the content needed for SEO is fairly painless. Search engines reward good content—for two reasons. First, good content with proper keywords is important when trying to get listed in the top of the search results. Second, good content attracts crucial links from other web sites; many search engines value linkbacks as a sign of a web site's popularity and how site content relates to the site's keywords.

If you focus on good content, you're playing a smart long-term game.

Let's face it: Search engines can only read words, and they find those words by following links. Therefore, text/HTML–based web pages are the best way to optimize a web site for search engines. But what kind of words do you need from the business side to get started?

Keywords should come from your marketing department. Impress upon them to choose targeted words that reflect your site's message and positioning, while keeping these points in mind:

  • "Keywords" should be two or more words long. The marketing people may think that less is more—but not in SEO. One-word keywords, which seem to your marketing staff to be short and to the point, can result in lower ranking in search engines.

    Suppose your organization sells tires. The word tires used as a keyword fits too many sites on the web; all this competition could send you down to the bottom of the search results. How can your marketing people modify this simple word? Think about the positioning of your company. How does your marketing message differentiate your company from other tire companies? What kind of tires do you sell? Where? For how much? If your company has positioned itself as a steep discounter and sells on price alone, use keyword phrases like discount tires or Denver discount tires; or, if you specialize in this, antique car discount tires. Choosing keyword phrases that are longer than one word will give you a better shot at search engine positioning success.

  • Use your marketing copy to optimize your site. Once your marketing department has selected keyword phrases, review the web page copy you were given earlier, and position those target keywords in the important locations on your web pages.

    The <TITLE></TITLE> tag is the most important placement. Failure to put target keywords in the <TITLE> tag is the main reason why perfectly relevant web pages may be poorly ranked.

    Another reason to have <TITLE> tags that are short and descriptive is that they appear in the search engine listing. A short, relevant, and descriptive <TITLE> tag may help users click through to your site. Think of your <TITLE> tag as a newspaper headline. These few words should make a user want to read "the rest of the story."

    Keyword phrases should also appear "high" (early) on the page itself. If possible, use your target keywords for your page heading, and in the first few lines of your web page.

Changing your page titles and placing keywords in your page headings won't necessarily help your page rise to the top of the search results. If your target keywords for the page have nothing to do with the topic of the page, you risk losing the work you've done so far. Your keywords need to be reflected in the entire page's content. Let's look at that issue next.

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