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Thinking about keyword phrases
When you first design a website you need to sit down and draw up a list of keywords and phrases that you expect your visitors to use when searching for your website.
It is important that you involve non-experts in the creation of your keyword list.
For instance, if you have a technical understanding of your particular product or service, you may be tempted to use a technical term within the search phrase.
Many of your customers may use search phrases you did not expect them to use. It is important to do as much research as possible, ask your customers what sort of phrases they would use when searching for your product or service on the web.
You should always ask as many members of staff as possible for their input and ideas relating to what keywords or phrases are important for your website.
Competitor keywords – see www.badwebsites.com.au
You should investigate the websites belonging to your competitors.
If you display a competitor website and then right click on the website, you should see a popup command such as ‘view source’ displayed. Once the source code for a competitor’s website is displayed on your screen, take a look at the list of keywords that is displayed within the Meta keyword section towards the top of the HTML code.
You might wish to copy and paste this into a Word document and then repeat the process by looking at many other competitor websites. You may find that some of your competitors have thought of keywords or phrases that you have not thought of, you can use these to help optimise your own website for better search engine results.
Keyword research using Google AdWords
Google provides a free research tool as part of a Google AdWords service. You can use this to help investigate which keywords are important for your website. Best of all the service is totally free.
To use the service, simply search Google using a phrase such as ‘Google keyword tool’ and you should see the relevant pages displayed. It is worth creating a Google account, which again is free, and will make the use of the Google keyword tool easier for you.
Let’s say you run a small bicycle repair business in Sydney. You can enter the phrase “bicycle repair Sydney” into the search box and when you click on the Search button you will see the results displayed.
In the example shown, as you can see, approximately 320 local searches were made within the previous month. In this context, ‘local’ means within Australia as the program was set up to use Australian defaults.
More importantly, if you scroll down the results section, you will find that the program has also displayed the number of searches that are made using similar, related, keyword phrases. As you can see in this example 6600 searches were made using the phrase ‘bicycle shops Sydney’.
What this is telling you is that, rather than simply concentrating on the phrase ‘bicycle repair Sydney’, you should maybe consider other keywords in phrases which will attract more visitors to your website, some of which may be specifically interested in bicycle repair.
You should spend a lot of time exploring the full capabilities of this program as it can really help you focus and home in on the important keywords which are not always the keywords that you initially thought were important.
At the end of the day what matters is what people are actually searching for, not what you thought they might be searching for. Remember these figures are provided by Google itself.
There are numerous examples of websites which are very keenly focused on a particular keyword or phrase, but unfortunately upon detailed analysis it turns out that the wrong keywords or phrases have been chosen and a lot of effort has been wasted.
Before you do any SEO work, spend time investigating relevant keyword phrases and make sure you pick the right keyword phrases, before you do anything else.
Using keyword phrases within a website
We will see elsewhere within this course that once you have defined important keywords or phrases, there are numerous opportunities within the code behind your webpage to promote these particular keywords and phrases.
Common areas which can be used to promote keywords and phrases include:
- The web page title.
- The web page description.
- The keyword section.
- Inside headers.
- Inside comments.
- Inside Alt tags.
- Inside file and folder names.
- Inside the URL.
Domain names (URLs) & keywords
The domain name or URL is the address of your website. For instance the URL for Microsoft’s home page is:
The URL is an opportunity to include an important key word or phrase. For instance let’s say you run a company involved in training dogs and you are located in, or near the city of Perth. In this case an ideal URL would be:
Google uses words within a website URL as one of the many factors used to rate the position of a particular website within the search engine results.
Many companies will use their company name as the URL of the website, and in many cases because the website and the company are so well established, this will work just fine.
However if you are a new, small company and want to get the maximum benefit from SEO techniques you may wish to consider creating a new website using the sort of URL outlined above.
HTML page structure
It is important that you understand the basics of how the coding for a webpage is put together. You do not need to know the full technical details, but it would help to have a basic understanding of the sort of structure used within a web page.
In order to view the HTML source that makes up a Web page, simply display a webpage within a browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, and then right click over the webpage. From the pop-up menu displayed, select a command such as ‘View source’. The source code would then be displayed within a window on your screen.
If you look carefully you will see that the source code is divided into two basic areas. At the top is a header area while the rest of the source code is divided into the body area.
HTML Header Area
A typical HTML header area is shown below. This is a simplified example and you will normally find many other elements within the header area besides those illustrated below.
As you can see the start of the header area is defined by a <head> tag, while the end of the header area is defined by a </head> tag.
<title>Computer courseware training materials</title>
<meta name="description" content="Computer courseware training materials inc courseware books and manuals">
<meta name="keywords" content="computer books, computer training">
As the name implies the title section within the HTML code defines the title of a particular webpage. The Web page title is seen displayed within the title bar of your web browser.
The title is also used by search engines such as Google to get an idea of what a particular web page is about. The title should be as concise as possible and describe exactly what that particular page is about.
A very common error on many websites is to have every single webpage within the website displaying exactly the same title. You should always take the time to have different titles on each individual webpage, and each title should exactly reflect the content of that particular page.
All other things being equal getting the HTML title right is probably the single most important factor affecting on-page SEO.
Within the title text, use natural sounding language, rather than simply a list of keywords. If geographical location is important to you then you may also wish to include this within the webpage Title. As an example let’s say you run a fish and chip shop in the Ocean Reef suburb of Perth, Western Australia you could use a title such as:
|Fish and chips in Ocean Reef, Perth, Western Australia.|
The description in many ways is similar to the title and should relate to the text contained within the title. As the name implies, the description is there to add extra details to the information contained within the title and as you might expect, you can enter more information into the description area. Following on from the last example, a description for a fish and chip shop in Ocean Reef might look like this.
|Our award-winning Fish and Chip shop in Ocean Reef, Perth, Western Australia is open Monday to Saturday from 5-8 pm|
HTML keyword Meta tags
The keyword Meta tags used to be very important for SEO, but due to misuse over the years they have become less and less important. Some search engines will ignore them altogether. That said, it won’t do any harm to have a good set of keywords, listed within the Meta keyword tag section. You should list your keywords in order of decreasing importance and you should separate each word or phrase with a comma.
Heading tags within a webpage
Within a webpage you will normally have a short piece of text, which acts as a heading, and underneath you will have the body of the text associated with that header.
You may be familiar with using headings within a word-processing application such as Microsoft Word. The use of headings within an HTML document uses exactly the same principles. The main header is normally labelled as Header 1, while you can also use sub-headers which will be labelled as header 2, header 3 etc.
Google will pay a lot of attention to the text contained within headers displayed within a webpage. You should think very carefully about what text to include within your headers, and find as many opportunities as possible to include important keywords and phrases within your headers.
Do not be tempted to stuff the headers with a list of keywords or phrases. You should always use natural sounding text within your headers.
If you are using a web editing tool such as Dreamweaver, you will find it is very easy to mark text as headers. Normally you will simply click within the text that you wish to mark is a header and then click on a ‘heading level’ button within the program.
What are Alt tags?
Alt is short for alternative. If you think about it, Google knows nothing about the content of any pictures you may have on your website. If you have one picture of a car and another picture of a mouse then all Google knows is that you have two pictures and that’s about it.
The idea of alt text is that you can hide a little piece of information behind each picture and basically tell Google what the picture is about. This may sound complicated but is actually really easy to do.
Whenever you have a picture on your website you should always have alt text behind it. You will not see this alt text on the screen but Google will be able to read it.
This alt text can be rich in your important keyword phrases. For instance if you have created a site relating to plumbing in Perth, you could display a picture in the website, and the alt text behind the picture could contain the phrase Perth plumber W.A.
The reason this is important is because the alt text gives you an opportunity to embed your important keyword phrases into your website and they will not clutter up the screen or detract from the visual look of your website.
We see numerous client websites where not a single picture has alt tag attached to it. This can harm your search engine optimisation as Google expects alt tags behind pictures.
Localising a search to a suburb or city
When you are searching for a product or service, often you are looking for a local company. For instance, if you are looking for a company to clean your windows, and you live in Perth Western Australia, you have very little interest in viewing the details of companies that specialise in the northern suburbs of Sydney.
For this reason many people when searching, will include the name of the nearest city or suburb in the search phrase that they enter. For instance, someone might enter the phrase ‘window cleaner Perth’ and hope to find only local companies displayed.
Use local place names in the keywords
If you are interested in attracting local customers you should make sure that your website pages display the name of your town, city or local suburb that you’re interested in. If you are interested in state-wide business make sure the name of the state is listed within the website.
Remember that if you do not specify the locations you are interested in selling to, Google will not know what geographical areas you wish to sell to, and you will not show up well within the search engines when people perform local searches.
Google Local Page
A facility that many companies overlook is the creation of the Google places page for your business. When people perform local searches within Google, increasingly Google will display a small number of localised results that Google believes matches the search criteria.
In many cases the local search results are shown at the top of the page ahead of the rest of the organic search results. It is vitally important that you optimise your company so that it shows up in local search results. An example is shown below and illustrates the local results that are displayed when using the search phrase ‘SEO Joondalup’.
Normally a map is also displayed, indicating the physical location of local businesses matching in the search criteria.