SEO Monday: How to Use Keywords on Your Website

After you’ve found some valuable keywords for your business you have to use them on your website. How many times? Where? Does it matter? Here are the essentials you need to know to use keywords effectively.

 

Include you’re keywords here…

  • Page titles. This is the text that gets displayed in the top bar of your Web browser. It’s usually also the text that Google uses as the clickable heading of your search listing. This is where you should try to include your most important keywords.
  • META description tag. This bit of text is often used as the description for your search listing. Keep it short (under 150 characters).
  • Page headings. Placing a keyword in the main heading (H1 or H2 tag) of your pages is a good idea, but don’t create a layered structure of headings (H3, H4, H5, etc.) mentioning your keyword over and over again.
  • Text. Search engines can’t read images or Flash (at least not very well), so make sure your website contains a decent amount of text.
  • Internal links. Use keywords in internal links to help users and search engines understand what various pages on your website are about. Avoid repeating the same link several times on a page (search engines only count the first occurrence).

The key to using keywords throughout your website is to do it with moderation. In most cases, use a keyword only once in a title and at most a few times in the text of any single page.

 

but don’t put them here…

  • META keywords tags. Technically you can, but there isn’t any benefit of doing so. Google ignores these fields.
  • Image ALT tags. You can include keywords in the “alternative text” (ALT) attribute of an image if the image is relevant to your keyword, but don’t overdo it.
  • Title attributes of links and images. Links and images can have a title text. This is the text that usually appears when you hover your mouse over the link or image. Again, technically you can include some keywords in these fields if it makes sense to do so, but it won’t help you a lot (if at all). Overdoing it on the other hand can hurt you.
  • Footers. Squeezing long lists of keywords in tiny grey text at the bottom your page can hurt your rankings instead of improving them. Avoid this tactic at all costs.
  • Invisible areas. Whatever you do, don’t try to hide your keywords from users while showing them to search engines. Common tactics used by some include hiding text behind images, using CSS to make the text invisible or publishing white text on a white back-ground. This is one of the easiest ways to receive a Google penalty.

 

A few more things to be mindful of…

  • Don’t include all your keywords on each page. Try to use only keywords that are relevant to a specific page. The rule of thumb is to target 3-4 keywords on a single page, however do what makes sense to the usability of your website.
  • Use words in a natural way. Instead of writing We’re web designers Brisbane… try something more natural such as We’re a team of Brisbane-based web designers…. It sounds much better and looks more trustworthy not only to human visitors, but to search engines too.
  • Use synonyms. Instead of repeating your keyword again and again, try replacing it in your text from time to time with synonyms. This has two positive effects. First of all it will make your text look more natural (see above), but it will also help you rank for a wider range of search phrases.
  • Use related phrases in your copy. Google, Bing and other search engines use statistical models to determine if text is natural and on-topic. Pages that use an appropriate range of related phrases are deemed to be more relevant to a specific phrase than pages that just repeat that one phrase. For example, a page that is written to target the keyword “web designers” may also include such related phrases as “shopping cart website”, “WordPress developer” or “content management system”.

Don’t be afraid to use keywords in your website prominently. If you don’t, the search engines will have a hard time figuring out what your website is about. However, don’t sacrifice the user experience by overcrowding your pages with keywords. Find a balance and you can please visitors and search engines alike.

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Nemek was the SEO Manager at Matter Solutions from 2010 to May 2012. He occasionally tweets here. More posts »
 

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