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3. Choose Your Keywords

This is the most crucial part of your promotion strategy. If you choose the wrong keywords, no amount of submitting or page alteration will bring you the quality and amount of traffic that will produce sales of your product.

Go to: Building Your List | Target/Blanket | Empathy | Plurals | Common words | Mispelings | Phrases | Testing | Voyeurs | Top 200


Building Your List

Open your plain text editor and list your keywords and keyword phrases, one on each line. Once you have a list, rearrange them in order of priority, the most important ones at the top.

The Strategy: Targeted vs Blanket

This is something you have to decide right from the beginning. It's quite simple. If you have a large list of keywords, your pages will be found with a broad spectrum of search strings, but they're less likely to be at the top of the results lists (blanket strategy). If you use a limited number of keywords, it increases the density of those few keywords and therefore puts them high up the list (targeted strategy).

So, if your keyword list is naturally short (ie. you're confident that users will search for these above all others) then the target strategy is for you. If you have a long list of products, then the blanket method is for you.

Empathy With Your Customers

Imagine that you're one of the people who's looking for your type of product. If you had to put a search string into a form, what would it be? The most obvious words are the ones you want to use. If you have to think too hard you'll probably come up with an obscure word that nobody else would think of searching for, which defeats the object.

Important: It doesn't matter whether or not you actually sell the product! Don't limit yourself by thinking "What do I sell?" Instead, put yourself in your customers' shoes and ask yourself "What problems and needs is my product solving?" For example, if you're selling massage oils, "sports injuries" would be a good keyword phrase which you wouldn't have thought of if you'd simply browsed a list of your products for inspiration.

Plurals

When you've completed your keywords list, add the letter 's' to the end of every word (or add the plural of the word to the list in the case of words like cactus/cacti). Many people search for 'games' or 'hotels' and if your keywords are in the singular your page won't be listed and your efforts will have been wasted, whereas your page will be listed in a search for the singular. A search for 'hotel' will find your keyword 'hotels' for example.

Common words

Avoid words which have a lot to do with the Net in general.When a user searches for one of these words they get a huge number of results and yours is likely to be way down the list.

The purpose of keywords is to target words that will bring people to your site as opposed to other people's. Since nearly every site on the Net is to do with 'web' or 'internet' or 'services', using these words to target your audience is pretty pointless.

Most of the robot-driven engines actively ignore common words like this.

Mispelings

If any of your keywords are routinely mis-spelled, include the incorrect version in your keyword list. If you're selling satellite TV dishes, include 'sattelite' on your list.

Keyword Phrases

These days there are so many pages on the Web that users usually search for 'strings' of at least two or three related words at once, for example "california carpet fitters". Now, if you have all three words on your list separately, you'll be listed below somebody else's page if they've targeted all three words together, in a Keyword Phrase.

In the above example you would treat "california carpet fitters" as one word which just happens to have space characters in it.

Test Your Keywords

Now keep your list handy, visit all the major search engines and enter your keywords one by one to see what comes up in the search results list. Study a few of the top pages which will have a similar topic to yours, and see if there are any other good keywords you could add to your list which you hadn't thought of before. Don't feel guilty about 'cheating', this is common practice.

Don't be tempted to paste the code from the top listings straight onto your page. If you get into the habit of doing that type of thing you'll always be following others and picking up the scraps. The aim is to get ahead of others, and that means being original. That applies to your business in general, not just your promotion strategy.

The Voyeurs

Watch users inputting search strings in "real time". The following pages will open in a new browser:

I challenge you to watch your screen for five minutes without the word "sex" appearing. Your eyes will boggle at some of these words, it regularly has me laughing out loud.

You should treat this just as a fun exercise to take time out from the brain-frying info you've just been reading. If the keywords you've already picked do happen to appear often that's a good thing of course, but don't make the mistake of taking these toys too seriously and targeting keywords simply because they appear often. An off-topic keyword is no keyword at all.

Yahoo! Top 200

There's a "mole" at Yahoo! He's uploaded a list of the most common keywords input on Yahoo! (again, mostly sexual of course). Another toy, not to be acted upon: Yahoo! Top 200.


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