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Free SEO Tip - Choosing Keywords

Keywords: Optimizing the Title and Metatags

While the meta tags for keywords and description no longer carry the weight they once did (Google pretty much ignores them when it comes to your placement) they are still used by some search engines and should not be ignored.

The title tag, on the other hand, remains one of the most important elements of optimization for search engines.

But before we can optimize these tags, we need to choose the keywords. Keyword research is critical. Be as specific as possible. There is probably a lot of competition out there for most single words you think of, but when you combine keywords into phrases, you improve your chances of good ranking immeasurably.

For example, let's say you sell web services. The keyword 'design' or even 'web design' is going to get a huge number of responses. But what about 'affordable web design'? And even fewer pages are indexed under 'cheap web design' or 'budget web design.'

Make a list of 50-100 words that describe your site and your services or product(s). Next, narrow that down to the top ten words which best describe the page you want to submit. Now look at combinations of these words to find powerful keyword phrases.

Try to think like your customer or target audience. What phrases are they likely to type in to a search engine when looking for a site like yours?

Your keywords should be found on your page, too, in your text and headings! Don't repeat them too many times -- an overall density of 2-5% seems to get the highest ranking in most search engines -- though many SEO pundits say keyword density is a myth. Perhaps, but you can overdo keywords. It's called keyword stuffing and must be avoided.

Advanced Hint: Check out your competition. I like to do this later in the process, weeks or months after a site launch or the publishing of a new page to tweak my rankings, but for those who are new at search engine placement, this is a useful technique. Using your keyword phrases make a search. Examine the pages you find in the top ten. What keywords did they use, how have they used those keywords in their page? See how you can adapt these ideas to your site. I am not advocating stealing anyone else's work. I am suggesting you can learn from looking at how others do things and adapting their ideas in your own unique style.

Newbie hint: You can view your competitor's meta tags -- and all their HTML code -- in most browsers under the drop down menu View.

Once you have written and optimized your copy, you are ready for the title and description. Both should be keyword rich. Try using your most powerful keyword phrase as the first words of your title and description. And remember to be enticing. This is the first impression a searcher will have of your page. Choose these carefully. Use no more than 80 characters in 6 to 12 words. Write your description tag solely to entice visitors, using 200 to 225 characters, and a keyword tag, if desired. For more on meta tags see Search Engine Watch's article How to Use HTML Meta Tags.


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