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Choosing and Researching Keywords

It can be difficult to choose the keywords that describe your business so that users will see your website when they perform an online search. How do you go about it? This article offers some useful tips.

You're ready to start building the website that will make your business a success. You understand how search engines work, at least enough to know that they will send programs called spiders to your site, and that the information these spiders send back to the search engines will help determine in what position your website will appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Obviously, you want people who are searching for what you can provide to find your website near the top of those results pages. How do you manage this feat?

The easy answer is "by using keywords and key phrases." These are the words that people type into search engines when they are looking for something. For instance, if I wanted to learn how to juggle, I might go to Google or Yahoo! and type in the phrase "juggling lessons" along with my geographical location to find out where I could take a class. The tricky part of that answer, as you might have guessed, is that you need to use the right keywords. Choosing the wrong keywords for your website's search engine optimization will guarantee that nobody ever sees your website. After all, when was the last time you went through all six million or so results that turn up in Google for a general word like "juggling"?

Choosing and researching good keywords is a process that takes several steps. I won't have the room to cover all of the steps completely in this article, so I will cover the rest in a subsequent article. Basically, the process goes through four stages:

  • Collecting initial keyword ideas. This is also known as brainstorming. Come up with plenty of ideas; ask other people for ideas, too, including your customers. In this article, I'll discuss some do's and don'ts so you can target your ideas a little, and maybe even come up with a few you wouldn't have thought of originally.
  • Checking keyword research tools. There are online tools that offer information about the number of times users perform searches for specific words. This is very important, because it will help you not at all to optimize for a keyword the search engines never see. Two of the best-known keyword research tools are Wordtracker and Overture.
  • Selecting keywords. This is the point where you put the information from your research together and decide which keywords are going to deliver the best performance for you. Note that I said "performance;" the best keywords might not be the ones that will deliver the most traffic.

After you've chosen your keywords and optimized your site, you need to perform measurements to see whether it's delivering the amount of traffic and conversions you expected. You can use this information to make adjustments and refine your keyword strategy.

With keyword selection so important to making your website work for your business, let's take a look at the factors to consider when making that initial pool of keywords.

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