Five Considerations When Choosing Keywords

10/11/2007

- Ashley Bailes, SEO Specialist

By now, the majority of website owners should be aware that good content is a critical ingredient to site success. Before creating the content of a site, however, one must overcome the sometimes daunting task of choosing keywords. These keywords are an integral part of any site and serve as the foundation of your targeted content. When picking keywords, many factors should be thoroughly contemplated, such as the website’s theme, ultimate goal, target audience, etc. While there are many considerations to address when choosing keywords, below are some that continue to be the most relevant to the search engine algorithms:

1) Web Site Theme
The chosen theme of your website should be the most obvious indicator of your site content. For instance, a website dedicated to automotive insurance should encompass keywords pertaining to the auto insurance industry. For best results, your chosen keywords need to be cohesive, with reference to your site theme, and include supporting content. After all, the search engine algorithms are designed to identify and rank sites that encompass keyword/site continuity. Additionally, nothing frustrates users more than clicking on a site link and finding unrelated content.

2) Ultimate Goal
The goal of the site is also important when choosing targeted keywords. Site goals can range from shopping conversions to increasing brand awareness; the keywords you choose should be based on the goals of your particular site. For example, while an e-commerce site may wish to focus on keywords pertaining to conversions or purchases, a resource site should have keywords that are more informational in nature. Understanding and selecting keywords based on this distinction is significant because prospective buyers will use very different search terms than, for example, students searching for research topics. In any case, it is vital to keep your goal in mind when building out your site.

3) Target Audience
Effectively reaching your target audience, is another motivating force behind meticulous keyword research. Ultimately, your keywords draw people to your site and, with careful keyword selection, you can make a huge difference in the type of visitors you attract. For example, a B2B site may use industry jargon to appeal to other businesses in the industry. Likewise, a B2C company may be best served utilizing layman’s terms when referring to its products or services.

The physical location of your audience may change your selection as well. A great example is how different areas of the country refer to soft drinks. Some of the populace refers to carbonated drinks as “pop” or “soda pop,” while others call them “coke” or “soda.” Also remember that a popular phrase in one language will not necessarily translate smoothly in another. Therefore, you should always be sure to research the cultural verbiage of your target audience before choosing your keywords.

4) Broadness
Now that you’ve established the theme, goal, and audience of your site – focus on avoiding broad terms. It is crucial to choose keywords that are the most targeted to a specific page of the site. More exact key phrases can help you to reduce competition and increase visitor quality.

For example, an extremely well-optimized page targeting the keyword “event” would still have problems appearing in the first few pages of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) – competing with the millions of other sites targeting some type of “events.” However, being more precise with your keywords, such as “event planning” or even “Atlanta event planning” will help you rank better and target a more relevant, niche audience.

In addition to avoiding keywords that are too competitive, it is also beneficial to use keywords and phrases without multiple associations or meanings. For example, “Windows for Sale” can refer to car windows, building windows, and even Microsoft Windows! By qualifying your keyphrase to specify what type of windows you offer, e.g., “car windows for sale,” you don’t risk competing in unrelated industries with larger companies and you drive more quality visitors to your site.

5) Traffic Volume
Contrary to popular belief, traffic volume should not be your primary reason for choosing keywords. Rather, traffic volume of a keyword or phrase should only be considered after the previous factors have been examined. Search volume can be used to compare the keywords that have been chosen based on the preceding recommendations. Also try to avoid using keywords that generate no traffic. After all, it is of limited value for a site to be number one in the SERPs for keywords which are never searched.

Although these five considerations are important for choosing keywords, there is no “standard formula” for making effective keyword choices. Instead, keyword selection should be a compilation of these factors that gives you the most edge within the search engines. Websites that target unique keywords for each page, supported by unduplicated, relevant and themed content throughout the site, will experience the greatest results.

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