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Keywords: Are You Barking Up The Wrong Tree?
By Dan Thies
Could your site be set up to fail? If you're targeting the wrong search engine keywords, or failing to understand how today's search engines use "themes" to rank sites, you're missing out on a lot of traffic.
When I created my "Website Promotion Central" site in 2000, I deliberately set out to see how high it could rank for the very competitive search term "website promotion." My motiviation was more to prove the "experts" weren't so expert, than to get a lot of traffic... and it's a good thing!
While "website promotion" is a very competitive term, it's not exactly a high-traffic search term. I thought it was, because I used the only free keyword research tool at my disposal, the Overture.com search suggestion tool. Live and learn...
The problem with relying on Overture as your sole source of keyword intelligence is that it doesn't really reflect the real world. A good portion of the "searches" on Overture.com are people like you and me who want to find out how much our competitors are bidding or even who our competitors are.
Let me introduce you to one of my favorite tools: Wordtracker. The Wordtracker service at http://www.wordtracker.com lets you do in-depth research on keywords, how popular they are and what other terms might be related. There's a free trial available that you can use as often as you like, and I encourage you to do so today - it will really open your eyes.
Another great place to research keyword popularity is Google's Adwords (http://adwords.google.com) - you can "preview" an ad campaign, and Google will show you how popular the keywords you select are on their search engine. They don't show you how many searches are done, just how many times someone clicked on an ad after searching for that keyword. In some cases, this may be more useful than the number of searches. It's free, and Google is by far the most important search engine these days.
I use a simple 4-step process to define keywords for a website, and determine whether the site will get significant search engine traffic:
Set a traffic goal - how much traffic do you need? Some websites can be profitable with as few as 3-5 visitors a day, but yours might not be one of them! What amount of traffic will make it worth your time and effort? List what you think are your 5-10 top keywords. More than that, and you can't build a single-theme site. This is important, and a lot of sites fail by trying to target too many primary keywords. Research them on Wordtracker with the free trial. If a search term is expected to generate 10 visits a day on Altavista according to Wordtracker, you can expect somewhere between 10-50 a day depending on how well you rank on the other search engines. Use the full version of Wordtracker (a one-day membership is only about six dollars) to research as many related terms as you can - these can become fodder for your pay-per-click campaigns, as well as becoming part of your themed site. You want to find at least a few hundred keywords and phrases.
A lot of website owners ignore keywords that are obvious to their customers - for example, brand names. One of the sites I'm analyzing this week will probably triple its search engine traffic once the owner adds some content for these types of keywords.Once you work out the keywords you want to use, and determine that there's enough traffic to go after. How you use these keywords will have to be the subject of another article, or series. Building a "themed" website is a little complicated = I had to write a whole book just to explain it properly!
I wish you success...
Dan Thies is the author of "Search Engine Optimization Fast Start," a concise, step-by-step guide to search engine positioning for the beginner to intermediate level webmaster - available now at http://www.cannedbooks.com
Copyright © 2002 by Dan Thies. All rights reserved under U.S. and international law.
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