SEO 101: Keyword Development and Deployment

Keywords play a vital role in search engine optimization (SEO), and — if used properly — have the potential to increase the flow of traffic to your site. It is beneficial to maintain an active list of keywords for each of your websites. Each list should be a continually evolving set of important, relevant keywords. The idea here is to develop a consistent practice of actively seeking better keywords, thereby producing your very own customized keyword library.

Keyword Development

A good way to begin a keyword list involves using keyword tools such as Google’s Adwords keyword tool (requires registration), Good Keywords (free software download), Keyword Tool, Keyword Research Database, or any tool that does the job (there are many good free online keyword tools available).

While free keyword tools may be sufficient enough to get you started, shelling out for a paid subscription to a premium keyword service can be very beneficial. Before signing up with a premium service, gather existing keyword information, site descriptions, product descriptions, and other key information for all of your sites, and then maximize your subscription period by analyzing and developing keywords for as many projects as possible.

Keyword Cultivation

As you develop your list(s) of keywords, separate them according to “primary”, “secondary”, and “tertiary”. Once established, a keyword list must be continually developed via critical analyses, careful editing, and constant updating. As you go, remember to remove ambiguous keywords, keywords with multiple meanings, terms that are vague or broadly defined, and commonly used words.

Also remember to consider adding synonyms, split words, merged terms, plural variations, slang associations, hyphenated words, and common spelling errors. If a site you are developing represents a specific geographic area, look for corresponding terms indicating the address, business name, zip code, phone number, neighborhoods, etc. Finally, groups of words used as keywords may serve a multipurpose function, enabling you perhaps to eliminate repetition by removing duplicate terms.

After you begin using your carefully chosen keywords, study your site’s traffic via access logs, statistics software, and tracking tools. Also note the keywords that similar websites are using. Go to their site, view the source code, and check out their meta keywords tag. Take notes. Consult the dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia. Ask associates for ideas concerning keywords. Scour the internet! Such research and analysis will result in a continually improving understanding of keywords — specifically, your keywords, thereby enabling a perpetually evolving portfolio of useful, effective keywords that will help maximize the popularity of your sites.

Keyword Deployment

Armed with an optimized set of keywords, it is time to incorporate them into your website. While this process may seem complicated at first, it turns out to be quite logical and even natural after a little practice. As you incorporate keywords, it is important to be mindful of “keyword density”, which is essentially a ratio of unique keywords (and their relative value) to content. The key with keyword density is to increase it as much as possible for one or two keywords per page while still maintaining a legitimate document. Two good places to check the keyword density of your pages are at Keyword Density Analysis Tool and Keyword Density Checker. Remember to consult, edit, and update your SEO log and your keyword library.

As you incorporate keywords into your documents, look for opportunities to use keywords in heading tags (h1, h2, h3, et al), document titles (title), bulleted lists (ul, ol), and as bold and/or italicized terms. When optimizing your page title with keywords, omit the now-meaningless “welcome” as the first word, opting instead to place your strongest keyword in its place. Subsequent title terms should include both primary and secondary keywords, with perhaps a repeated primary keyword (or two). Remember to keep titles lowercase and less than 60 characters in length (including spaces).

Also remember to maximize keywords within image alt attributes, link title attributes, and element name attributes. If possible, try naming your site’s files with primary keywords, but try to limit hyphens and underscores. A good example would look something like: primary-keywords.html. You get the idea. Finally, it is crucial to create meaningful, keyword-dense hyperlinks. Rather than a link that says, “Click here”, provide a nice, long, descriptive link that says, “Primary keywords, secondary keywords, and tertiary keywords”.

Keyword Tricks

If you get super gung-ho about keywords, and are willing to risk appearing desperate, there are some less appealing methods for increasing keyword density throughout your site. For example, throw down a covert noframes tag and stuff it with keywords. Other prime candidates for keyword stuffing include the meta name tag, hidden links, hidden layers, and, well, you get the idea. You may also want to include a nicely keyworded link within an iframe, or even hide keywords by using tiny text, display:none;, type="hidden", or by matching text color to background color. For the truly unscrupulous, stuff ’em with a few hot buzzwords like “sex”, “pr0n”, and “britney spears” (you slimebag!).