3 easy steps to SEO keyword choices*

On 28/01/2010

In SEO - search engines

Get a doomby e-storeIt's been almost a week since we got zoned together, and it's probably time to return to the business of website creation. By now, you've come up with some terrific ideas for your site content. So, you know why you're going to make a website and who'll be looking at it. Great. As they say, content is king, and you've got to know your audience.

I'm sure you'd agree, right?

You've also had time to think about your website design, and to choose a website color scheme. Even better. But the devil is in the details, and before your dive in and create a website, it's essential to remember what it's for: it needs to be visited, to be read, seen, heard … and for that, it needs to be found. Which just so happens to be the object of today's sermon from the mount: getting found by thinking ahead (or SEO: Search Engine Optimization).

The first step in planning to get your website found is choosing which words people will use to find you (with Google, Yahoo, Bing or whatever their favorite search engine happens to be). Doing this at least passably well is an essential part of learning how to make a website that works, regardless of the website builder you're using.

Unless you're famous (or infamous), it's unlikely people will use your name when they're searching for a website like yours. There are plenty of site tools around to help you find the words (keywords) most likely to help your site get found, but by far the best-known is Google Trends. It's free, and using it is a straightforward process that can be broken down to three basic steps.

    1. You'll want to head here to access the tools, and begin by researchinga website that is similar to the one you want to make. If you're planning to make a business website, for example, do a regular search and choose one of the better ranking sites (one with a prominent placement on the first page of the search engine results). Performing a Trends search on that site will provide you with:
      • a list of websites that were also seen by people visiting the site, and
      • other terms they used to find it and similar sites.

      Use both to your advantage: clicking the websites will help you uncover similar terms you might not have thought of, and the list of website names may themselves provide key word and term ideas.


  1. Once you've got together a list of terms, use Trends to compare them - you can compare up to five at a time. You'll want to rank them to see:
    • which is the most-used term,
    • which other terms are most-frequently searched, and
    • to compare the popularity of searches for each term on your list

    This will help you define the most popular terms, more likely to help people find your website. Bear in mind that everyone else who is making a website like yours is interested in those same terms. Choosing the most popular is not necessarily always the best thing to do; it's easier for your website to get lost in the ocean of results for a common search term than for a less common one. You'll need to strike a balance between the popularity of a search term, and the likelihood of your site getting found by people using it. Don't worry if you don't get there at first - it's an art all to itself. The good thing is, if your terms aren't working after a while, you can always change.
  2. Use the terms you've chosen judiciously - but often - in your text. Think of your page text as the frame for your keywords: it pretties them up, but are the supporting feature rather than the main event. Your keywords are the only things you should ever include in your text that “sound odd” - in other words, that are not strictly grammatically correct in their context, but close enough to get away with. Badly written text is a big N-O, but it's easy enough to forgive an occasional curious turn-of-phrase.

    Excluding keywords from your text, however, is a mortal sin: there's no point having beautifully written, interesting content ... if no one ever finds it. But don't over do it either – search engines are trained to detect keyword “spam” – and always ensure your text is interesting. Getting visitors is more than just getting found on a search engine: it's also about providing them with a reason to come back.

I'll be posting later on about other essential things to keep in mind when writing for the web. But for now, begin by concentrating on getting those key words and search terms sorted out, so you'll be ready to advance with your website text next time.

* As much as I wanted to title this post “Free porn, and other neat keywords”, I refrained as I didn't want to offend my (or anyone else's) mother. Was I wrong?