Learn the Right Way to Choose Good Keywords for Your Site

The right keywords work wonders for your website

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Choosing the right keywords and phrases for your website is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). When you understand the basics of effective keyword choice, you increase your site's visibility to search engines and searchers alike. The right keywords draw interested viewers to your website; the wrong keywords don't do anything at all.

Focus Keywords on Your Site's Audience

Don't rush through the important task of choosing keywords for your website.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Think about your target audience and the primary focus of your website. Your audience is looking for your website. The right keywords help them find it.
  • Jot down a list of words and phrases that you think people might type into search engines when looking for your site. Don't worry about being perfect: Just be creative. If you are drawing a blank, use a keyword search tool such as Google Adwords or Keyword Tool.
  • Each page on your site should have one to three related keyword phrases that are site-specific. For example, say you have a page all about coffee mugs. Good phrases to target on this page are coffee mugs, ceramic coffee mugs, or unique coffee mugs. They're all related, and they're all pointing at the same general content on the page.
  • Use your keywords throughout your site copy—where they make sense—as well as in your title tag and meta tags. Don't go overboard and insert keywords every other word, because this is unethical SEO.
  • If there are unusual words associated with your site's content that you think people might search for—or any frequent misspellings—include them, but sparingly.

It takes a while to get the hang of finding the keywords that work, but once you master this skill, you'll see how the right keywords can benefit your site.

Don't Make These Keyword Mistakes

As you consider possible keywords, keep a few warnings in mind. 

  • Avoid single-word terms. Most single word keywords—such as writer—are too competitive. Two- and three-word keyword phrases are more likely to draw the right viewers to your website.
  • Avoid keyword phrases that are too specific. Where the term writer is to too broad, the phrase freelance tech writer in new orleans is too specific. Few searchers type in a search term that is that specific.
  • Avoid broad terms. Broad terms aren't limited to single word keywords. A two-word keyword can also be too broad to be effective. Take high school, for example. This keyword phrase would return pages of results. Modify that to nashville high schools or high school for the arts and the results are much more focused.
  • Avoid highly competitive keywords. If the web is saturated with sites that use the same keywords as you'd like to use for your own site, accept the fact that you might not compete well. You can still use them, but also select keywords that focus on your specific site.
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