Larry Brauner

Needle in a Haystack?

There are millions of websites and billions of words of information on the Internet. You would think that finding anything would be like looking for a needle in a proverbial haystack.

Fortunately some of the savviest entrepreneurs have hired some of the smartest geeks to write some of the coolest computer programs ever written that allow us to find just about anything out there on the World Wide Web. These programs I refer to are what you and I call search engines.

The most popular search engines today are Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. While Google is the most popular, each of the others has plenty of loyal users too.

The search engines travel throughout the Web reading web pages and saving information about these pages for future reference, a process called indexing. When a page has been visited and stored away, we say that the web page has been indexed.

What are Keywords?

When we want to find something online, we bring up our favorite search engine and type some words into its search box. These words which closely relate to the information we want are called search terms or keywords.

We enter keywords, and the search engine responds with pages of results called search engine result pages – SERPs for short – that it retrieves from its index files.

If we are happy with the results, fine. Otherwise we try entering a different keyword combination, or we change the order of the search terms and try again.

Every Search Engine Must Do This

A good search engine is one that consistently finds us the web pages that are the most relevant to our search based on our chosen keywords.

The top priority of a search engine must be to retrieve and return to us the most relevant and helpful web pages. If it doesn’t, then we’ll look to a competitor’s search engine instead.

Search engines always focus on satisfying users, not website owners and not even paying advertisers.

Crime and Punishment

Website owners sometimes try to deceive search engines by stuffing keywords into their web pages completely out of context. They hope thereby to drive their pages up to the top of the search results.

This tactic, a form of spam called spamdexing because it spams the indexing process, once fooled search engines, but that is no longer the case.

Spamdexing can be spotted by sophisticated search engine algorithms and punished appropriately. A site might even be delisted altogether.

Once this happens it could be a long time before the site re-establishes its credibility and regains its standing.

Golden Rule of Web Design

Create your web site content with your visitors in mind. Your visitors and search engines will react favorably, and everybody will win in the long run.

With keyword research you can find the optimal keywords to use in your web pages, words or phrases that many people are searching for, but not so many that the competition for those keywords will be too fierce.

There are keywords that people use when they are doing research and there are ones that they use when they’re ready to buy.

Keyword selection is both an art and a science. There’s much room for creativity.

However, whatever keywords you select to use in your web page, keep this in mind:

Somebody will read what you write, so always be sure that what you write is worth reading.

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13 Responses to “Keywords Demystified”

  1. Debbie Morgan on October 6th, 2008 12:38 am

    Hi Larry!

    Thanks for Keyword 101.

    It is important that the keywords make sense, but it’s also important to have the correct amount of keywords on each page.

    The question I have is, what’s the right amount of keywords on a page? I think that topic is “keyword density.”

    Could that possibly be the topic of your next article?

    Deb

  2. Nihar on October 6th, 2008 12:45 am

    Nice post. Yeah I know that stuffing a lot of irrelevant keywords is spamming.

  3. SK WONG on October 6th, 2008 7:17 am

    Hi Larry,

    Good advice.

    There are people who write for the spider to read and not for the human.

    While we are finding keyword rich content, the ultimate aim is to please our readers, not the spiders. So even if you site ranks first yet the content displeases readers, the whole purpose is defeated.

  4. TeasasTips on October 6th, 2008 8:52 am

    Great explanatory post Larry.

    What some marketers don’t know is the value of good keyword optimization.

    Thanks for this.

  5. Larry Brauner on October 6th, 2008 9:26 am

    Debbie,

    Each search engine has its own secret algorithm, and that algorithm changes from time to time. It’s impossible to optimize keyword density across all search engines and at all times.

    My suggestion is to write for your readers yet to use your keywords as often as reasonably possible without resorting to keyword stuffing.

    Furthermore, keyword density is only one factor considered by search engines. Use of keywords in titles, headings, alt tags, outgoing links and incoming backlinks may be just as or even more important.

  6. Christine on October 6th, 2008 9:33 am

    Thanks, Larry, for putting keywords and search engines in terms that I could understand, not being a computer savvy person (yet). I’m a work in progress!

  7. Ginger Jones on October 6th, 2008 12:05 pm

    Larry:

    You are the best! I now know why I look forward to each and every blog of yours. You break everything down to where a novice, like me, can grasp it.

    What a gift you have. Thanks for sharing it!

    Ginger

  8. Michael Taplin on October 6th, 2008 5:10 pm

    Good stuff on keywords.

    Readers may be interested in my experience with JobsInRoidney.

    This a job advertising website serving a small, 90,000 people, rural community that enjoys great traffic and market penetration, and gets over 1000 robot visits a month. This happens because every job we place on it has its own highly relevant keywords and the job turnover keeps the robot busy with new stuff to find. We do not have to work hard at it, and we find that writing the ads well makes the meta tags easy.

    Have a look at it to see what I mean. The result is that we get hits from hundreds of search terms and the list changes constantly.

    Good luck with your SEO.

  9. Googlr Analytics on October 7th, 2008 6:30 am

    Larry,

    Good job on keywords.

    I’ve also recently written a couple of related articles. They are on using Google Analytics to determine needed changes in keywords.

    I’ve linked to the first one above, and it links to the second.

    Warmly,

    Linda P. Morton

  10. Robin on October 7th, 2008 9:18 am

    Hi Larry,

    Is it still true that Google will only truly recognize only 2 maybe 3 keywords?

    I also heard that it is wise to use one of the keywords in your HTML address…

    Feedback from you please?

    I know you are the “expert”! ;-)

    Regards,

    Robin in Israel

  11. Randy Kemp on October 7th, 2008 7:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing this vital information.

  12. Larry Brauner on October 8th, 2008 9:54 am

    Hi Robin,

    Once Google indexes a page, searching for any word on that page will return that page.

    The page may however be very far down in the returned SERPs.

    By concentrating on a few keywords, you are more likely to have success optimizing the page for those keywords without running the risk of spreading yourself too thin. Also, your title and header cannot accomodate large numbers of keywords.

    You might want to try using major and minor keywords. You’ll use the minor keywords in your text but leave them out of your title and header.

    Keep in mind that each page of the site is independent with its own set of keywords. so in a site with multiple pages you can accomodate many keywords.

    It is useful to include your keywords in the page’s address. I believe however that keywords in the URL weigh more heavily with Yahoo! than with other search engines.

  13. Larry Brauner on “My Online Social Networking Sites Strategy” | Evolve.Ever on December 16th, 2008 5:58 am

    […] this visit, I found Larry’s current post Keywords Demystified . And as always, his post is crisp and organized to keep you glued to the last of the post. But, my […]

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