Keywords Are Key

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the only way to succeed with an online business.  That is just a simple statement of fact.  It is so axiomatic that even businessmen with absolutely NO understanding of the internet or computers bandy about the term SEO.  It is fundamental.  Obviously you understand the importance of the principle, if not the particulars.  That is why you are here reading this blog.

But what exactly is SEO?  The short answer is that Search Engine Optimization is simply making your business’s website as relevant as possible to internet users searching for your product or service on the internet.  SEO is about getting your website as close as possible to the top of relevant search engine results so that your website is seen and, hopefully, visited.

At the very heart of SEO are keywords.  These are the words and phrases that you weave throughout the fabric of your site to help convince search engine spiders that your site is the most relevant to a user’s interest.

The more general your keywords the more competition you’ll face.  Just like in medicine, it pays to specialize.  For instance, let’s say you sell jellybeans.  Now if you focus on “jellybeans” as a keyword, then you are going to get lumped in with all of the other results for “jellybeans”.  Now, unless your jellybeans are pretty famous, you won’t be showing up on those first few pages, thus your site won’t get visited.

However, let’s say you focus on “black jellybeans”.  Now you’ve got less competition.  The competition for that more specific phrase is much less steep.  Now you stand a chance of nabbing the bulk of internet users searching for “black jellybeans” vs. probably getting no users at all for searches for “jellybeans”.

They key here is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience.  What would your average customer probably search for.  Let’s say that you own an athletic shoe store.  You may be tempted to go with the obvious choice of “athletic shoes” and that is probably what many users would search for first too.  However, the second they saw the 200,000 results returned they’d probably realize they needed to be more specific.  They’d narrow their search down to what they are looking for specifically and so should you.  Select keywords that your customers will be searching for, like “Nike cross trainers”.

Don’t fail to take into account that your customers are human.  They may make mistakes and misspell words in their searches.  Included common misspellings of keywords too.  If your store specializes in custom calendars then don’t just use “custom calendars”.  You should also include “custom calandars”, “custom calenders”, etc.

Finally, localize whenever possible.  This is mostly important for businesses that offer site-specific products or services, such as restaurants.  Customers will be searching for a restaurant close to where they are located, so your keywords should reflect that.  Instead of “restaurant”, try “Chicago Italian restaurant”.  You’ve narrowed down your keyword to location and specific type.  That is much closer to how the customer would search.  Again, putting yourself in the mind frame of a typical internet user is the most helpful tool for coming up with keywords.