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Choosing Keywords and Phrases for Search Engine Optimisation

Published on September 9, 2011
Tags: SEO, Web Design London

When you have a website, one of the things you may need to think about is search engine optimisation (SEO). There are quite a few different things that make up SEO, but arguably one of the most important components of it is keywords. For those not in the know, keywords are words or phrases that you choose to target on your website in order to boost your ranking in search engine results for those terms.

On the face of it, choosing keywords is a fairly simple task. For instance, Ampheon is a web design firm, and so one of the keywords related to that will naturally be ‘Web Design London’. However, when you type ‘Web Design London’ into Google AdWords, it comes back telling you that there are approximately 74,000 local monthly searches for that term. If you type ‘Web Design London’ into the Google search engine, it gleefully informs you that there are about 50,000,000 results in total.

This means that getting to the top of the rankings for a term like that is extremely difficult, but when you consider that research has shown that 40% of people don’t look past the first three search results that come up and that 99% of people never look past the first page of results, you can’t just rely on a single keyword or phrase – especially one that so many other websites are targeting, too.

Let’s take ‘shoe shop’ as an example. With 550,000 local monthly searches for the term ‘shoe shop’, it suggests that it’s going to be quite hard for a website to stand out using this search term. This means that it’s a good idea to look for other, relevant search terms that are useful for your site’s SEO but that perhaps aren’t quite so competitive. Helpfully, tools such as Google AdWords and Wordtracker offer you lists of alternative keywords as well as some helpful data to let you know details such as how many people search for those terms each month.

For instance, terms such as ‘shoe shops’, ‘shoe shopping’, ‘shoe shops online’ and ‘womens shoe shops’ are still popular but probably much easier to tackle in terms of SEO. Another trick is to add a geographical marker to your keyword terms. So, if your shoe shop was based in London, one of your key phrases could be ‘shoe shop London’, making the term more specific and hopefully appealing to an audience that is more likely to buy from you.

But does this mean you should ignore those popular terms such as ‘shoe shop’ and ‘web design’ entirely? Not at all. If those terms are relevant to your business, of course you should target them as keywords. After all, people will expect to see them on your site as that’s what your company is about – it would be really hard to write anything about Ampheon, for example, without using the words ‘web design’.

Also, SEO is not always about the quick fix. A good SEO strategy will have a long term plan, so while it’s unlikely a website will immediately break into the top results for a massively popular term, that’s no reason to assume that it never will. The search engines will still scan your site for those terms and, the more high-quality content you add to it, the higher your rankings should (hopefully rise).

This means that a combination of keywords is generally an effective strategy. Use popular terms, but also add other words to make them more specific. As mentioned above, adding the location of your business is one good option. Being more specific about what your company does is also a good idea. For instance, is your shoe shop just a general shoe shop, or does it specialise in certain types of shoes? Does it have a focus on children’s shoes or women’s shoes or extra wide shoes? All of these things would provide good qualifiers that can help you target more specific terms.

Finally, it’s important to do your research on keyword tools such as AdWords or Wordtracker. These can provide you with valuable information that can sometimes really pay off. There might be some keywords and terms that are specific to your business and are popular search terms, but they are still relatively niche and don’t yet have much competition among other websites. If you could target those words, you could be well on your way to success.

Overall, choosing the right keywords for your website is not an exact science. Some will be easier for you to choose than others, but as long as you keep in mind the fact that you’re playing the long game, there’s no reason to assume you won’t be successful. A combination of the right keywords, good content and a good web design really can make a difference. Some of it is going to involve trial and error, but in the longer term, if done properly, your business could thrive as a result.

By Chelsey Evans

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