Search Engine Optimization: Selecting and Embedding Keywords | WebReference

Search Engine Optimization: Selecting and Embedding Keywords

By Sukrit Dhandhania


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of optimizing your web site so that search engines can pick up the necessary information to display your web site in their search results. When done properly, SEO can help your web site appear quite high in relevant searches on these search engines.

Every search engine has its own methodology for determining how web sites rank in its search results. However, certain principles of SEO work across the board. Google currently is the most popular search engine. Therefore, not surprisingly, most SEO efforts go into being compliant with Google's SEO practices.

Several factors contribute to making a web site rank high in relevant search queries, such as the domain name, headers, and content. Let's look at one of the more important pieces of the SEO puzzle, keywords.

What Keywords Are and How to Pick Them

Keywords are strings of words, ranging from one to four or five words, that you embed into your web site. These keywords or key phrases are terms that are relevant to the content of your web site. Search engines pick up these keywords when crawling your web site, and they play a large role in where your web site ranks in the search engines' results.

Picking keywords can be tricky at times. You need to find a combination of words that are relevant to your content, while making sure that they are terms that are popular search queries. There are several tools out there that will help you find and test the usefulness of your keywords. One such web service that I would recommend is the Google Keyword Tool. Another is the Word Tracker. Both of these tools offer relatively up-to-date information on the search query estimates for your keywords. This information will help you determine how useful your keywords are. Below is a screenshot of the search results for a query in the Google Keyword Tool.

Google Keyword Tool Search Results

If your web site is already in business, another great way of picking keywords and phrases is to go through your web server logs and web analytics logs to see how people have come to your web site, and what sections they visit more often than others. You may want to concentrate more on the sections of your web site that people haven't visited to boost the traffic for those sections. So, come up with a strategy and pick keywords accordingly. Pick a total of about 20 keywords and phrases. You can also pick keywords for specific pages.

How to Embed Keywords and Phrases into Your Web Site

At this point, you should have carefully picked a set of about 15–20 keywords and phrases for your web site. There are several places in your web site that you can embed these keywords. The most effective placement for a keyword is the domain name. When you pick your domain name, pick one with the topic of your web site embedded in it. For example, if your web site is about a holiday resort, choose something like I realize that this is not always possible. However, this is probably the most effective way of getting relevant traffic from search engines.

Next, you need to embed some of your keywords and phrases into the page title. Open the header definition file for your web site, if you have a common one for your entire web site. If not, you need to do this manually for each page. Between the <title> and </title> tags, enter a short phrase from your collection of SEO-friendly phrases. You can either have the same phrase running in your title across your entire web site, or have a custom one for certain pages. You have space to play with in the title, so you can have a rather long sentence containing several keywords too.