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The Art of Using Keywords

art_of_keywordsWhen companies set out to begin using search engine optimization, one of the first tips they are usually given is to make sure they are using keywords. Unfortunately, without being told how to properly use keywords, many companies end up seeing few results from their hard work, and may even end up hurting their websites. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when beginning to work with keywords.

What are keywords?

Keywords are words or phrases that people tend to put into Google or other search engines to find the information they are looking for. The search engines then work to determine which pages would be relevant to the inquirer by scanning what keywords are contained within the page. A complicated algorithm that takes into account various criteria such as page popularity, backlinks, and age to spit the results out in a particular order, according the the most likely to be helpful. To try and get their pages to show up for potential customers, web pages try to incorporate the words and phrases that people looking for companies like theirs might use to search.

How NOT to determine keywords

It is not a good idea to make keywords very general, such as trying to use the word ‘barbeque’ as often as possible. There are probably millions of pages that use the word ‘barbeque’. Secondly, traffic only does a company good if the people who visit the page are likely to use the businesses. If the page is for a barbeque restaurant in San Antonio, they should instead work to incorporate the phrase ‘barbeque in San Antonio’ a few times throughout their website. There will be far fewer pages who use this keyword, which will give the page a better chance to rank highly on a search result page, and it will do a better job of limiting the traffic to people looking for barbeque in the right area.

How to use keywords

Keywords should be used several times throughout the website, but companies should avoid at all costs what is known as ‘keyword stuffing’. This refers to using keywords over and over again in the piece, in attempt to make the page seem super relevant to Google. This technique usually backfires, however. For one, Google’s latest algorithm changes, known as the Panda and Penguin updates, have focused eliminating these less-than-honest maneuvers. Secondly, even if the techniques drive traffic, most customers who then view the page tend to look down on writing that is of poor quality and sounds unnatural, and often quickly leave without using any products or services. Instead, aim to use the keywords as naturally as possible throughout the website. Blogs are great for working in the keyword once or twice on each post. They should also work naturally into home pages or About pages.

Using keywords can be a fantastic way to let search engines and potential customers know about the value the page has to offer. To keep the technique from backfiring, however, it is important to use them naturally and honestly. Keeping these guidelines in mind should allow any company get started on the road to good keyword practice.

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Matt Walde
Post by Matt Walde
February 12, 2014

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