Monday 13 April 2009

What Are Keywords

What are keywords? The answer to that question is simple. But the answer to the a question on how important they are today and how to use them is more complicated.

The word ,"Keyword" is actually a misdescription as it includes single words but nearly always means 2, 3 and 4 or more word phrases too. Keywords and key phrases are words and phrases that people enter into search engines to find information about a certain subject.

For example, saying I am a cat lover, which I am, and I want to find information on the British Shorthair cat. I might enter into the Google search bar, "british shorthair cat" (capitals are irrelevant in search engine use). Or I might search for "british shorthair" or "Brit SH" or "shorthaired british cat". The possibilities are wide. From a webmaster's point of view we like to know two things about keywords:
  • the "demand" for keywords in respect of the subject matter searched for
  • the "supply" for the same keywords that are demanded
"Demand" means the popularity of the various keywords in relation to the subject matter in question. For example, people might prefer or use "british shorthair" more often than "british shorthair cat".

Webmasters will prefer to use keywords with the best demand because if they can satisfy a high demand they get more traffic. But and this is important, if the supply for a keyword is also high, meaning there are a lot of websites supplying the demand for information on that particular subject (keyword) then there is high competition and your site will not get in the first page or two of search results, so no one will find your site. Although there might be millions of people searching for information using a very popular keyword (lots of potential traffic) you won't get the traffic because you are invisible on page 10 or so of a Google search.

The ideal keyword, then, is one with high demand and low supply. This equates to lots of people wanting to buy a special mobile phone, for example, but it is only available at one shop in the country. What do you think would happen? The shop would be very busy indeed - plenty of traffic. What webmasters do, therefore is use programs to search for relevant keywords that have high demand (popular) and poor supply (no websites). The best known keyword provider is Wordtracker.

Once a keyword is selected it is used as the title to the article and used within the article a little more than usual. One complication is that keywords that are three words long can be hard to fit into an article without things becoming artificial. Take the keyword for this post, "What are Keywords". That is very difficult to work in. I just worked it in once and at the beginning so that makes twice. But to work in "what are keywords" three times is hard - I just did.

That means that single keywords or double word keywords are easier to use but are usually not that good because there is high demand and high supply, putting you in the highly competitive zone and it is depressing to build great content and be invisible. The key is to go for keywords that are lower in demand but accordingly very low in supply, say 20 websites supplying information on that keyword. In theory that should get your site in the first two pages at the worst as there are 10 listings on each page.

So the answer to the phrase, "What are Keywords" is that they are words or phrases that are used to search for information utilising one of the search engines.

The next question is, are they still useful? Yes and no. Google has got so sophisticated that it is less important. Things are less mechanical these days. And you can over due keywords, which the seach engines don't like and can spot. That will go against you. One last thing. The keyword should also be used in the first 90 characters of the article and in a link in the article. Images should have "alt" tags which should ideally also use the keyword and the photo captions should use the keywords too.

What are keywords to Home Page

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