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Keyword Research is Step One to SEO

02/23/2009

The first step to internet marketing is to make sure that your keywords appear on your site in the places and concentration they should. This “on-page” search engine optimization determines the phrases for which your site will appear in the search engine results pages. Exactly where your site shows up in those SERPs is the result of many other factors, but the terms you choose will determine the results you’re in.

So, choosing those keywords is going to be a very important step. You want to choose keywords that get a lot of searches, but without so much quality competition that it would be hard to score high in the results. This delicate balance is often determined by a factor known as KEI. For more on this subject, here’s an old post from my Supak Blogs for Small Business Blog, entitled Keyword Research.

When my clients sign up for search engine placement and internet advertising, they often want to know how I go about choosing the keywords to put on their sites. In the old days (I started doing this when Google was just a graduate student’s dream), I would ask the clients what keywords they thought people would search for, and I used those (with some of my own thoughts included). I still ask the client, but then I plug those words, along with some of my own, into a variety of keyword discovery programs in order to see what key phrases people actually use when searching for a particular subject. Those programs will also compare the amount of searches to the amount of sites that compete, and that results in a number known as KEI (keyword effectiveness index). A high KEI means one is likely to win a search for those terms, provided those terms are properly included in the web site and in the links to the web site.

I spend a lot of time on keyword research these days. I like wordtracker.com, but I also use the Yahoo Search Marketing (the old Overture) keyword selection tool (which gives search numbers, but no KEI), and Nichebot. I use the keywords tool at Google’s Adwords. I also spend a lot of time just searching the more popular terms and looking at the Google PageRank of the pages that win. I do all this before I ever touch a single page on the web site for which I’m trying to improve search engine ranks.

After all, if you get high search engine ranking or positioning for overly specific subjects, you’re not likely to get a lot of traffic, and if you don’t win for searches on high traffic words (with lots of competition), you still won’t get any traffic. The trick is to balance specificity with generality when going for enhanced search engine placements. If you really want to improve search engine ranks for your web site, you have to carefully choose the right keywords and phrases.

Of course, that’s just the beginning. As a writer with an English background and a Philosophy degree, I pride myself in the logical and fluid inclusion of keywords and phrases into my clients’ web sites. As search engines have gotten smarter about how they rank sites, I’ve gotten smarter about how I include the keywords and phrases into the sites. Where the phrases appear, how many different forms of speech the words take, the different arrangements of the words, and the natural fluidity of the language are all taken into consideration by the search engines when they determine your web site’s rank.

Putting this kind of effort into search engine optimization is a time consuming and exhaustive task. However, by trying to keep the process simple, I can manage to tailor the amount of work involved to the site I’m working on, allowing me to provide affordable search engine placement services to small business owners who may have thought they couldn’t afford it. Get more search engine ranking information at my site, BaldMtPress.com.

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