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Guidelines On Keyword Selection
Originally Published: August 2002
I asked Fredrick Marckini if he could reveal the greatest contributor to his client's success in the search engines. He responded, "that's easy, most Web sites are targeting the wrong keywords and phrases. In my opinion, this is the Holy Grail of search engine positioning success. If you're not targeting the right keywords and phrases, even the best rankings are of little value. We spend more time on selecting the proper keyword and keyword phrases than perhaps anyone would imagine."
Guidelines On Keyword Selection
"Most people target the wrong keywords. No client has ever presented us with a thorough keyword universe upon initiating their engagement. Invariably, the keyword list supplied by the client includes keywords that are too broad, or not specifically relevant to the content of their site."
Marckini recounted an interesting anecdote surrounding the keyword selection process:
"The most senior executive at a major business publisher complained to me in a meeting before they engaged our firm that their site could not be found on searches for the keyword phrase, 'small business.'"
"He asked our help in getting their site found on this all important keyword. You could have heard a pin drop in the room when I retorted, 'Good! I'm glad that your site is not found on searches for 'small business...' I explained that I was once the quintessential small business owner and I've never, ever, performed a search for the keyword phrase 'small business' that describes the demographic category that he felt I fell into."
I continued, "I may, however, search for 'small business advice' or 'small business software,' but I do not think of myself in terms of the demographic group that others think I represent."
"Really, when you think about it, people search the Internet to solve a problem." Marckini suggested that as you evaluate a particular keyword phrase you should ask yourself these questions:
"What is the intent of this query?"
If you cannot determine what problem the searcher is trying to solve in performing that query, you should not be targeting that keyword or phrase.
Next, if your Web site does not "satisfy the intent of that query," unequivocally, you should not target that phrase.
"Your job in optimizing your Web site is to help the searcher complete his or her search mission and thereby add value to the search engine's index. If you do not add value in this way, the searcher will click one maybe two pages deep in your Web site and then click the back button and find a Web site that does solve their search problem."
"The answer to this next question should be intuitive: 'Why invest your time and energy targeting a keyword phrase that will not attract someone interested in what you have to offer?
The beauty of visitors coming from the search engines are that they are all well-qualified prospects being far more likely to make a purchase than someone clicking on a banner ad out of curiosity."
"If someone is actively searching for what you have, they are much more likely to be a serious buyer. Therefore, even if you generated fewer overall visitors from search engines than from your other advertising sources, you'll find a much greater percentage of those visitors will convert to actual sales."
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This article is copyrighted and has been reprinted with permission from FirstPlace Software.
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