Here’s a great Tweet I saw a few weeks back: An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish bar, bartender, drinks, beer, liquor.”

When we talk about SEO, search engine optimization, we often talk about keywords. But what’s in a keyword and why should you pay attention?

Here are some basics:

When someone (maybe even you) gets onto Google or Bing (yeah, right) or Yahoo (giggle) they will type in a few words or a sentence to prompt a search. For example some of the most searched for terms in 2012 were, “Kate Middleton”, “McKayla’s Not Impressed”, and “Gangnum Style”, all of which make me fear for humanity.

Anyway, these words or phrases are called keywords and when the search engine with its little bots running amok lands on those keywords it will return results based on what it thinks you’re looking for.

So what does this mean for the small business owner who has a website? It means that in order to be found you need to incorporate appropriate keywords and phrases into it so consumers can find you.

That, in a nutshell and perhaps a bit simplified, is what SEO is all about, Charlie Brown.

The trick in keyword use is using the right ones in the right places so that your website is fetched and lands early in the SERP (search engine results page, we love us our acronyms DYT?). Showing up on page 3 probably won’t get you customers. Most people don’t even realize there is a page 3 in search results.

So where do these business-driving keywords need to go?

-Start with your website content. Each page needs keywords both singly and in phrases on each page that reflect what a potential customer might search for. This includes page content, headings, title tag, link text and attributes. A good website designer will know what that last sentence means.

-Don’t just slop the keywords any and everywhere. You don’t have the same fifteen red couches in every showroom so don’t have the same keywords on each page. Rearrange the words and phrases to vary the keyword placement.

-Avoid what’s known as keyword stuffing. Think of this as the kind of hard sell from the salesman in the dirty shirt, with a pinky ring who smells like Subway. Search engines, especially Google, will penalize sites that jam in multiple keywords or hide them in the text or margins to increase visibility to the search bots.

-Think hard about what you do and focus your keywords here. If you’re a small business concentrate on being found locally first. Use single words as well as phrases and don’t forget to include your city, state, region and zip code. This is called geo-targeting and will really help you with local search visibility.

-Include just a few keywords and phrases on each page. Remember to include anything you do that’s unique. “Only HVAC service in Kansas City to use kryptonite”. Like that.

-Vary your content to keep your products and services updated. This is where a blog comes in handy. It’s a good way to address any breaking news or information.

-Think like your customers. Ask friends and family what they might put into a search engine if they needed your services or products.

-If you know just enough about keywords you’ll be much more able to find a good SEO service (hint: Turn The Page) without wasting your money.

This is a just the beginning of how to use keywords. Stay tuned for more info and helpful information on the wide, wonderful world of keywords.


Author Amanda Hall

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