Search engine optimizationIncreasing your search engine ranking with keywords

You have a great Website, but can it be found? A Website is a big investment. And, if you manage the content yourself, it’s a lot of work too. Unfortunately, having a great Website doesn’t ensure that potential customers will be able to find you.

Competition for the top search engine ranking position is fierce. In some industries you will almost certainly have to pay for a top spot. However, in most industries it is possible to get a first- or second-page position with organic search engine optimization.

Website SEO begins with keyword identification

The most important step in optimizing your Website is to identify your keywords, or key search phrases. You need to determine what your customers and prospects are actually searching for so that you can optimize your site for those search terms.

Each page of your Website should be optimized independently. We cannot stress this enough. To be effective, Website optimization needs to happen on a page-by-page basis. You should develop a list of keywords for each and every page of your Website. Yes, this is a lot more work than making one generic list for the entire site. But, Google™ will be ranking your site based on relevancy. A broad list of keywords just cannot be relevant on every page of your Website.

When choosing keywords, the three most important factors to consider are search volume, relevancy, and relative competition. In other words, you need to ensure that people are searching for your term in sufficient quantity, that the term is relative to your page, and that you’ve chosen a keyword that has the least amount of competition possible. How do you find this out? There are many tools for assessing keywords to be found online. We use and recommend the free Google AdWords™ Keyword Tool.

For each page, you should identify your top keyword, then select 5 to 10 diverse, but related, keywords for optimization. There are many tricks to finding related keywords – the Google AdWords Keyword Tool can certainly help you. However, a more effective method is to use the Google search engine itself to give you some clues.

Go to Google.com and begin typing in your top keyword. As you begin to type the keyword into the search box, Google will attempt to autocomplete your query. These suggestions are often your most valuable keywords as they are based on what other users have searched for and are also the keywords Google is recommending to its users.

You have your list of keywords, now what?

So, what do you do with all those keywords? You want to make sure your keywords appear in the right spots, and that your content is relevant and easy to read.

Keywords should appear naturally in the flow of content. Do not ‘load’ the page with keywords. Google and other search engines reward Websites with good and relevant content created for human beings. Bold, italic and linked text has more importance than standard body text, but don’t be tempted to overdo it. A page loaded up with nothing but bold, italic and linked text is hard to read and may be penalized in the rankings.

Important keyword locations:

  • Page title (meta title)
  • Description meta tag
  • H-tags (h1, h2, h3)
  • Internal site links
  • Bold or italic text

Begin by writing your page’s meta title – this is the title that shows up in the bar at the top of your Internet browser. The meta title should include your page’s top keyword and perhaps another related keyword and geographic location (if applicable), and should not be more than 70 characters (with spaces) in length. Look at Concentre’s Website as an example; we’ve determined our top keyword phrase to be ‘brand marketing agency,’ but we’ve also included ‘advertising agency’ as an important related keyword.

When writing your page content, keep in mind that people skim, more than they read Websites. Your text should be written in short, easy-to-read paragraphs. Include bulleted lists to highlight important information, such as product features and benefits. Use relevant headers and sub-headers (h1, h2, h3) to break up the copy and make scanning easier.

Be sure to use your most important keyword in the h1 tag. This is the most important headline tag, and should appear at the top of the content and be relevant to the content of the page.

End each page with a call to action, learn more feature, or links to related content. The idea is to keep your customers engaged until they’re motivated to take further action, i.e., make a purchase or contact you.

And finally, test, test, test. Search engine optimization is not a once-and-done project. Search engines, like Google, Yahoo™, and Bing™, are constantly changing their ranking algorithms. And the competition will be trying to wrestle that top spot away from you.