Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Importance of Keywords for Rankings

Most techniques to improve your search engine rankings have one thing in common -- keywords. Choosing appropriate keywords is extremely important. Think about it: Keywords are what lead search engine users to your site.

How to choose your keywords
choosing the right keywords is the first step to better search engine positioning. Analyze your business carefully and think of all the words that relate to your company or product.
Let's say you sell puppy food. What words would you search for when looking for the same product? Ask your colleagues and friends to think about the same question. This is perhaps the most important stage in your war for a spot in search engines' top 20.

As you think about keywords, consider the following:
Who needs your service?
Think about who will use your services, then target them with keywords. For example, people whose dogs are about to have puppies will need puppy food, so you can add phrases like "dog pregnancy" and "puppy health" to your list.

Include variations of your keywords
People will search for your site using all sorts of keywords. Making your site easy to find means including misspelled, capitalized and plural keywords. Always include the longer forms of keywords too. For example, use "domestication" as well as "domestic."

Avoid wrong keywords
Do not use "stop words" -- particles like "and" and "the" and common words like "Internet." Remember, the more specific your keywords are, the better the chance that people who find your site through search engines will actually benefit from its content.

What are the best places for keywords?

Click on any of the links below to read more about effective keyword placement in:
HTML Title
Text of the page
Meta description
Meta keywords
ALT tags
Comment tags
URL name

Alphabetical priority and its influence
Whether a file name starts with A or Z can have a surprising effect on a site's search engine rankings. Some small search engines still use alphabetical priority as a ranking factor. Directories such as Yahoo! and Open Directory Project list sites in alphabetical order. It's important to consider the effect of the alphabetical hierarchy as you choose keywords
Make sure your main page is full of keywords. It has a higher chance of being indexed than your other pages, and it will be the only page indexed by some engines.

Keyword Prominence
The best place to place keywords in the text is at the top of each page, preferably the main page. The closer your keywords are to the start of the page or the start of a sentence, the better. This concept is known as "keyword prominence." You'll frequently see it used to describe search engines' algorithms.

Keyword Density
This concept, also known as keyword weight, measures the relationship of keywords to keyword density is almost never this high? The recommended density is 3-7%. This means that your keyword should repeat 3-7 times for every 100 words.

Keyword Frequency

Keyword frequency is a measure of the number of times keywords occur within a page's text. It's tied to the concept of keyword density. Search engines want to see more than one repetition of a keyword in your text to make sure it's not an isolated case. The recommended repetition is 3-7 times.

How The Design of Site affects Search Engine Rankings

Your site's design plays a major in role in the user's decision to either stick around or continue surfing. Graphics, layout, load time, fonts and ease of navigation can all influence the user. To craft a site that retains visitors, make it fast, clean and pleasant.
You can find out more about your users with a web traffic monitoring service. Web hosting companies often offer these as part of their packages, and they're a must. Sign up for an outsourced service or purchase the software if it's not a part of your web hosting plan. It will be useful in marketing, advertising, search engine placement and design.
Spell well
Although search engines don't penalize for spelling or syntax errors, someone who finds a spelling mistake on your site may view it as unprofessional. Many people believe such mistakes indicate a lack of cultural authority and credibility. Run a spell check on every page before publishing.
Don't use "construction" areas
Any editor from a directory such as Yahoo! or ODP will tell you that a site using "This page is under construction" messages won't be listed. Visitors don't enjoy "construction" areas either. Don't submit to directories until you have your whole site up.
Do pretty pages matter?
It's important that your site look pleasing to visitors. If your site looks bad, many potentially loyal users won't go past your home page. Get together with your design department to determine the best layout, colors, fonts and graphics for your site.

How long will users stay?
If your visitors have to wait 30 seconds for your site to load, you can be sure you're losing half your audience. These days there are plenty of sites that load far more quickly, and users naturally prefer those. Reducing the amount of time it takes for your site's front page to display completely can help you hang onto users. This is called optimizing your site's load time.