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by Stephen Logan on 30th July 2009
Optimising a website with any notion of your targeted keywords is like setting off in a dinghy without any navigational tools, heading west and hoping that you’ll discover America. Yes, there’s a chance you’ll make it, but you’ll have an epic struggle and could well end up lost in the search wilderness.
Think of SEO as a cartographic process, with keywords acting as the perfect route. It helps you to map out exactly where you’re going with your site, defining what areas are good to explore and those that are best left alone. Key terms are essential in every aspect of SEO, without them you’ll be working on sheer chance alone, just as you would in a dinghy across the Atlantic.
As with all types of route planning, there may have to be changes along the way where issues arise or some paths don’t quite lead where you intended, but this is all part of the fluid SEO process. Keywords are the backbone of search engine optimisation. They are integral to copy, Meta as well as all other text related tags and headers. By implementing them across your site, search engines will have a far clearer understanding of what you offer, which in turn will lead to an improved ranking.
Often the temptation with key terms is to simply pick those that are most obviously related to your company and industry. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you have to understand that competition may well be greater. To get a better idea of niche search terms there are a number of keyword research tools, which include Google AdWords, Spyfu and Wordtracker. These sites will take your key terms and provide possible alternatives, whilst also giving statistical data on the search volume (i.e. how many people search for that word/term in a certain timeframe) and how many other sites are currently targeting that term.
Clearly the ideal scenario is a keyword that generates a good deal of searches but only has limited competition. Of course, these are quite rare, but by digging deeper with your analysis they can be found.
When you have a clearly defined list of keywords and phrases you’re ready for implementation. You want them to be featured throughout your site, on the most relevant pages and in the right quantity. Don’t go keyword crazy. Modern algorithmic search engines don’t react favourably to sites overflowing with the same term over and over again, in fact they’re more than likely to penalise you. The optimum figure is widely debated; however a keyword density of around 5% should be earmarked as your absolute maximum.
So before you look to tackle your website’s SEO, don’t forget about keywords. Whilst you might be keen to get everything all up and running as quickly as possible, a little extra time spent defining the very best terms can ultimately pay huge dividends. Don’t leave your site’s success down to blind luck; target your audience with a focussed keyword strategy and SEO implementation.