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The key to unlocking SEO and keywords

SEO and keywords are closely related. The former improves a website’s chances of ranking highly for relevant search terms while the latter are inserted into web coding and content to improve search engine visibility. Shaz Memon of Digimax explains what both SEO and keywords can do for your site once you’ve got a winning combination.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation, otherwise known as SEO, is a type of quality control for web pages. If your optimised site is relevant to a web user’s search terms, it stands a better chance of ranking highly on the search engine results pages, or SERPs.

SEO is one of those processes that everyone knows about but few people understand. Some Internet marketing companies will try to blind you with science and imply that only a handful of select ‘experts’ understand it well enough to make it work. While expert guidance is always helpful when you are starting out, maintaining good SEO is not as mysterious as you might think.

What are keywords?

Keywords are words and phrases that describe your site contents. When properly integrated, they make it easier for people to find the site on Google and other search engines.

At one time, keywords were all that mattered in an SEO campaign. Google evaluated and ranked a site solely based on its keywords. The result was inevitable: to achieve higher rankings, black hat marketers started stuffing client sites with select words and phrases, making the contents nearly unintelligible.

Today, keyword spam can get you penalised and the relationship between keywords and SEO success has become more complex, but used properly, they still work. Placement, however, is more important than frequency. Posting preferred keywords once in the title tag and page header and a couple of times in the content has better results than stuffing them ten times in the same paragraph.

There are two varieties of keyword:

  • Short tail: Also known as broad keywords, they are less specific and target a larger audience. An example would be ‘London dentist’.
  • Long tail: These keywords address a specific market or niche. Visitors who use them tend to know exactly what they want. For example: ‘London cosmetic dentist’ or ‘Harrow emergency dentist’.

Choosing good keywords

Good keyword selection requires a bit of research. Decide what words and phrases you want to rank well for and then use Google’s online keyword tool to see which variations are the most popular. Be aware that the more competitive your choices are, the more time and effort you may have to spend to rank well for them.

Keywords should be placed in the following sections of your website:

  • Page text: Each page needs to contain applicable keywords, but use them judiciously. If your content turns into keyword spam, visitors will be turned off and Google will penalise you.
  • Page title: Also known as a title tag, a page title appears in the search results and the user’s web browser. For best results, use the following formula to create your page title: Primary Keyword | Your Business Name | Secondary Keyword
  • H1 tag: This is the primary header tag for an individual web page. It acts as a title or headline for the page content beneath
  • URLs: Use preferred keywords in the names of folders or pages. For example: yourbusiness.co.uk/keyword/keyword.html
  • Link text: Using your target keywords in your site navigation and in-content links will enhance the site’s relevancy for the chosen words.

Keywords: the Broader Picture

Although Google uses keywords to help determine what your site offers, it no longer limits itself to pulling out phrases and matching them precisely to visitor queries. Instead, it interprets the contents of your website and forms its own conclusions about what the site offers.

So what does this mean, exactly? In short, Google can -and does- derive meaning from the synonyms of the keywords you choose. You may have the exact phrase ‘London cosmetic dentist’ appearing several times throughout your site, but if you use related terms instead, like a combination of ‘London cosmetic dentist’, ‘teeth whitening dentist’ and ‘invisible braces dentist’ on different pages, theoretically Google could rank you just as highly- if not higher.

In summary, best SEO practices dictate that your site be optimised for a certain meaning rather than a specific search term, but by choosing keywords that point to the same general picture, this goal is easy to accomplish and the benefits delivered are much wider.

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