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Demystifying SEO Part 3: Understanding Keywords

If you lurk around the web long enough, perhaps thirty or forty seconds, someone is going to mention the term “keyword.” As in, just use the proper amount of keywords for your niche and your blog will receive a million hits through organic search.

Whatever. I hate jargon, but in this business it is important to know the terms.

Keywords are nothing more than the words people will use to find your website, page, or post.  Every page that has text will naturally contain words that someone may search for. It’s sort of like the infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters eventually producing Shakespeare; if there is text on your site that is searchable by search indexes like Google someone will find it.

A keyword is not just a single search term, it can be a phrase, too:

Blogging, mommyblogging, how to mommyblog are all examples of keywords that someone may use to find a site like MomCrunch.

So keywords occur whether you intended to create them or not. Typically though when someone uses the term keyword, they are implying that these are terms you have put thought into. While it is true that life bloggers and traditional mommy blogs do get some search traffic, concentrating on keywords for each post may not be the best search engine marketing strategy. Time would better be spent on marketing through networking rather than trying to capture traffic that may be after information rather than entertainment.

Blogs that focus on a specific topic or niche (yay, more jargon) can work on increasing their performance in the search indexes by intelligently placing keywords within each post.

A technique I’ve found effective over the past several years is to first write a post on a topic in completely natural language and then I pay a quick visit to Google’s Adword Tool. This tool is designed to help marketers create Adword campaigns to bring traffic through pay-per-click ads. It has another use for content creators in that it shows the number of searches per month for any given keyword and related keywords.

While using the tool I input the term I think someone would use to try to find the information I’ve posted. The Adword Tool them sends back terms that are related. I then return to my post and carefully insert a couple of the keywords I found with the tool into places where I have used a pronoun or generic term for my topic.

You don’t want to abuse this practice. There is a tactic known as keyword stuffing and the search algorithm looks for the point at which content creators have stopped writing for people and are only writing for the search program. If you read your post aloud and it feels stilted and unnatural, remove some of your additions -and possibly work on your prose.

Smart keyword use is only a method to help improve your rankings in search results. If you destroy the content of your posts to be found, you won’t keep the readers who arrive. Serve your readers’ needs first and Google’s second and over time  your site will grow.

(Photo Credit: GRwitters)

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