SEO Basics: What makes a good Keyword List for SEM & SEO Copywriting?
Keywords (a.k.a. search terms) are the words and phrases that people use to proactively find what they are looking for in search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. The choice of keywords that prospects use to find what they are seeking on the web is a critical factor in determining what sites are going to be served up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
- A word that serves as a key to a code or cipher.
- A significant or descriptive word.
- A word used as a reference point for finding other words or information.
- Any significant word or phrase, esp. a word used to describe the contents of a document.
Many of the top-ranking webpages, for any search query, rank prominently because their site owners are paying attention to the importance of SEO copywriting (writing content that is both interesting and search engine friendly) and optimizing (onsite and offsite) a particular webpage for specific keywords based on their keyword list, and the content of their page. Conversely, the majority of sites that don’t rank in the first few pages for a search engine result, often rank poorly because site owners are not engaged in the SEO Basics of building an appropriate list of keywords, or any keyword list at all – it’s astounding how many otherwise sound websites fall into this category.
A good keyword list is the cornerstone of Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO & SEM). It is a list of keywords thematically related to the content of a website or webpage, containing relevant search terms with a high probability of being used by a site’s target market to search for the site’s offering (i.e. sufficient relevant search volume). A keyword list should contain search terms that present a reasonable chance for the site to appear in the SERPs (i.e. low competition; or a relatively low number of webpages indexed for a particular search term, vs. relatively high search volume for the term).
The ideal size of the keyword list will vary in proportion to the size and scope of the site or campaign. An individual webpage should only target a few primary keywords, and keep the keyword density in the single percentages relative to other content, so as to avoid keyword stuffing. Keyword derivatives and variations in the text are acceptable, providing they flow naturally within the content and are used selectively.
The length of each keyword search term is also important. One-word search terms are usually too general (with a few exceptions such as keywords promoting a brand) and often return too many results for your site to be found. Keywords consisting of more than three or four terms are often too specific, resulting in low search volume. Niche sites and campaigns, however, employing long-tail keywords (keywords that don’t have high general appeal, but do have strong specific market appeal, representing the ‘longtail’ of a distribution curve, and are often, but not necessarily, more than 3 terms in length) can be highly successful when targeted correctly.
In other words, you want to use keywords that accurately represent the content on your page (Google is increasingly adept at determining the strength of this relationship, and you loose credibility if this relationship is weak) and that your prospects are likely enter when they are looking for what you are offering, without being too vague or too specific. Your keywords should also give your site a decent chance to stand out from other webpages that are served up in the SERPs.
There are other important factors that influence the rankings in a SERP, such as the number of quality backlinks to a site (or internet votes) and onsite elements such as the quality of your content, usability of your site, load time etc. However, most of the important ranking factors relate back to your keyword list; for example, a backlink with one or more of your chosen keywords as anchor text will usually give you more juice for that search term (helping you to consciously improve your rankings) than a link with only a URL or generic keywords as anchor text.
When the Samurai Warrior had the strategic plan of attack laid out, it was time to chose the appropriate tactics and weapons to win the battle. Methodologies and tools for keyword research and implementation to be discussed soon.