Search Engine Optimization - KEYWORDS

>> Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm familiar with all of those except SEO. I for one would appreciate if you can pull together information on SEO.

So - even though I am in no way an expert on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) let's see what I can do. It's a big topic so I'm splitting it up a bit - in this first article, I'll talk about choosing good keywords, then we'll move on to how to build traffic by using them.

Focus on keywords

If you don't know what keywords to associate with your site, it is going to be impossible to optimize your site for search engines - basically, key words are all search engines 'care' about.

So your first step is to figure out what your keywords should be.

This is easier said than done because there is a balance to be found. You want keywords that people will actually search for - but not ones that are so ubiquitous that there is no way that you're ever going to make it to the top of a search engine.

SEO - for example, is a hot term that lots of people search for - unless you are going to REALLY focus on SEO and take on a whole lot of people and businesses who are already well established in that niche, your site is going to languish on page way-too-far-down-to-matter in the search engines.

Writing is another term that gets a lot of searches - but again, way too much competition to be really useful.

Google Adwords tool gives you a great way to figure out what keywords are likely to work for your site. I used it, for example, with mature students. And found out that mature students is a weak search term - you Americans don't use it, you use nontraditional students.

Which is why I moved away from mature and try to use nontraditional in my Nontraditional Students R Us blog.

With the Google Adwords tool, you type in your ideas for potential keywords, and it comes back with numbers - how many advertisers are paying for ads that use that keyword, and the local and global monthly search volume for not only the word you submitted but also for related terms.

Anything that says "Not enough data" is not an appropriate choice for your blog because not enough people are searching that term for it to bring you enough traffic to matter.

Any word that is so general that it gets millions of searches is also not your best choice, as we've already discussed.

So you are looking for terms that are somewhere in the middle - words or phrases that fit with what you have to offer (because you are going to be using them a lot and if they don't fit you are going to hate that) and that generate a decent amount of traffic.

There are other ways to come up with keywords, also. One is to pay attention to what YOU search for on the Internet. And another is to pay attention to what works on your site even when you weren't necessarily trying to use good SEO techniques.

Most site hosts provide statistics about your visitors. On blogspot, most of us use Google Analytics, I think ... it gives very useful information about your blog's traffic, albeit a day later.

Once you have signed up for Google Analytics, copied and pasted the snippet of code into your site template (you do that by going to Layout, Edit Html in blogspot) and waited for it to start sending you data (usually a day or two), you can log into Google Analytics and see how much traffic your site is getting and - more importantly - what keywords people have used to find you.

On the left of the basic report, there are links to other more specific reports - the one you want is "Traffic Sources" ... it includes a list of the keywords people have already used to arrive at your site, and may well give you some words or phrases that you can use to improve your ranking and draw more traffic.

As I said before, I am not an expert in SEO - there are a lot of people who are though. For more information, I would suggest starting with THE experts. The Official Google Webmaster Blog, for example, or you can download the Google Search Engine Optimization Guide.


  • Lola

    If you frequent or one of my other blogs,, you may notice something odd about today's posts. At our blogger meet-up in Aurora on Sunday, keywords came up and I mentioned that back when I began blogging I saw a blog post where the writer mentioned that the post that got the most keyword hits was about his search for a "smoking jacket". So the 5 of us bloggers decided to do an experiment today and do a post about smoking jackets and then check our keyword stats. Time will tell how many hits we get on that keyword. In any case, I think we all had fun doing a same topic post across our blogs. I actually don't know if anyone has noticed that it's not just crazy Lola who posted about smoking jackets today.

  • flit

    I often find surprising things showing up in my search terms - who knew people actually searched for glow in the dark knitted cast covers

  • Phyl

    What a coincidence! I just added the Keyword Tool to my bookmark bar less than an hour ago; I heard about it for the first time at an internet marketing seminar I went to yesterday. I was going to type up the things they taught us there and post them at the Exiles blog in the next few days. :-) [You should post this info there too, she said bossily.]

    The guy also showed us a site called (though it requires a paid membership) where you can get even more information about who's searching for those keywords.

    He also said that having more than one of your keyword phrases emphasized on a single page would confuse the search engines, and they wouldn't know how to prioritize, and this could even lower your ranking rather than lift it up. So he recommended having many pages (he was talking about a website, of course, not a blog) with one main topic (and therefore one major keyword phrase) on each page. And you put that phrase both as the page title and included in your headline. And then somewhere in the body of your text as well.

    As to the stuff that shows up in search terms -- I couldn't believe how often people came looking for the Chinese paintings I had taken a quick picture of, when I was doing a "Book Without ISBN" post on a book on that topic. That picture, and my Russian language topics.

  • flit

    I'd heard that about too many keywords on a page... probably better to only have one blog post per page because of it.

    For me, it's a balance thing though ... I know that really good SEO does not equal really good blog... so I tend to try to do what I know how to do and can do without it impacting what I want to do with my blog.

  • flit

    oh, and sure...assuming Steph doesn't mind, we can add this to Exiles as well

  • Phyl

    I agree, about the SEO vs. good blog thing. I remember reading one of Griz's Today posts about SEO, and he said you really have to have each blog post as a separate page. I did that for a while on my Cultural Idiot blog, and then changed everything back. I kept thinking how inconvenient it was, and how I knew the good readers wouldn't come back if the thing looked like that.

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