Erin Everhart / Design / May 20th, 2010

Choosing the Best Keywords to Increase Your Search Engine Ranking

Good keywords: It’s a topic that’s been discussed as long as Google has been indexing Web pages.

In order for your business to have any sort of impact online, or any sort of impact at all for that matter, you have to rank high in the search engines. And in order to achieve those top-tier, page 1 rankings, you have to build your site on a solid foundation of good keywords. But that in and of itself surfaces a hair too much ambiguity for me.

I had a good understanding of what already made a “good keyword,” but any journalist-at-heart knows that one source never makes a story — if your mother says she loves you, check it out. So, I did what any red-blooded American would do: I Googled.

As you can tell, just searching “What is a good keyword” generated more than 325 million responses. Guilty: I didn’t sift through all of those responses, but I found enough to back up my thoughts and some that gave me a little more insight to building the perfect SEO, keyword strategy. Compiled here for your leisurely viewing is a to-the-point rendition of how to choose the best keywords to improve your search engine rankings, using one of our most recent web design projects, Safariland.

Oddly enough, the best keyword isn’t going to be a word; it’s a phrase. Single keywords are too broad, and while searched often, you’ll end up getting clicks from people who don’t really know what they’re looking for. Think about it: When was the last time you remember finding anything relevant from a one-word search in Google? Or for that matter, when was the last time you searched for anything using only one word? Tip: Select words that are general, yet, targeted. (No, that’s not a conundrum. Read on…)

  • “Armor” isn’t going to get you anywhere. Is the person looking for video games? Army schools? Magazines?

On the other end, being too specific limits your results. Sure, these will get you a high ranking, but few people know exactly what they want in a product/service, and even though they’ll be closer to laying out the cash for your business, you’re not bringing in enough traffic. Tip: Any term being searched less than 1,000 times a month is too specific.

  • “Second chance prism multi-threat body armor” is going to make sure people end up at your site for that product, but people that specific in their searches are few and far between.

Focus on the middle ground: You want to catch people who know what they want/need, but might not know where to get it or what exactly the best one out there is. Tip: Use everyday language for your keywords.

  • “Police body armor” has a good search rate (about 2,400/month) and traffics in the people who already have an idea of what they need.

Coming up with good keywords for your site isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a mind bender, but that doesn’t mean that you should take them with a grain of salt. These keywords are going to be integrated throughout your site — page titles, body content, metadata, and all — and while they certainly aren’t set in stone, the right keywords won’t need continual updating. Tip: It’s easier to boost a site’s search engine ranking under a keyword it’s already ranking for — going from No. 20 to No. 8 is easier than going from No. 175 to No. 20.

So, you should take the help that’s already offered. There are tons of keyword research tools that will help generate additional keywords for you either based on a domain or a specific keyword. Google’s search-based keyword tool is a good, free service, giving you multiple results, amount of competitiveness over that keyword, and suggested bid price for sponsored pay-per-click advertising. But, like anything in life, there’s only so much that “free” gives you. (Like free stock photo sites: You won’t find any relevant pictures.) My better judgment tells me that there are more than 23,000 searches per month for “web design company.”

Here at 352 Media Group, we use the paid keyword research tool KeywordSpy, which you can still use without signing up, but it’ll only generate the 10 possible keywords/competitors instead of the hundreds you get when registering. KeywordSpy has a number of monthly searches for “web design company” that I agree with more: 246,000.

If you leave this post with one thing, it should be this: Even if you use a keyword research tool, you have to do some manual research on your own. These keyword research tools only point out potential keywords for your site, not necessarily the best keywords. You’re still going to have to put in the manpower to determine which of those keywords work best for you, which, a lot of the times, means refining those suggestions.

Happy hunting!

  • http://www.dynamictrucksonline.com/ Matthew Johnson

    Thanks for this great resource.Very essential from SEO point of view.Anchor text is definitely important. There are many link scrapers that will pick up your links and reports them just as they are posted originally — This is an easy way of getting more links to your content…