How to Use Keywords to Optimize your Website

How do you want new customers to find you on the web? What words are people likely to use when they search for your company or for the products you offer? Your answers to these questions are your “keywords,” and they are integral to building an effective online presence. Here’s how to generate a keyword list and optimize your site in 5 easy steps:


Step 1: Think like a Customer

Brainstorm a list of terms that people might use to look for you or companies like you. Put yourself in the mind of a potential customer and get creative. Include short terms, long phrases, location-based queries, and questions.


It’s important that you make your list first, before turning to the internet’s keyword tools. Why? Because no tool can ever know your business better than you do. You know what products your customers care about. You know your region and its nicknames. You know which of your products or services are the most important to your business’ growth.


For best results, have a coworker or friend make a list, too. They may think of things that you forgot. Brainstorm until you have a very long list, group similar terms and phrases together into categories, then prioritize the categories.


Step 2: Use the Power of the Internet

Use GooglesKeywordTool to see how your keyword list compares to the keywords that people actually search for. Focus on one keyword category at a time. Look at the top box to see how many searches each of your keywords get, and use the bottom box to find related keyword ideas. Add to, subtract from, and re-prioritize your list to incorporate your Keyword Tool findings.


Step 3: Revamp Your Website

Look at your website to see how well you make use of keywords. Do you use them in your headlines and in the body of the page? Does the purpose of your page match what customers are searching for? Update your titles, headlines, and body copy so that they include your high-priority keywords. Make sure to write in a customer-friendly style; your goal is to make your site morerelevantandusefulforthem.


Of course, including keywords in your headlines and enhancing body copy will also help the Google robot know what your page is about, but you should never write for Google. Writing for Google often ends up in “keyword-stuffing,” the activity of cramming keywords into your page to a point that it doesn’t make sense and looks spammy. Google punishes keyword-stuffed pages. Writing for customers is a much better, strategically-sound approach. After all, the people at Google are striving to make their algorithms think more like people do, so it makes sense for you to focus on people, too. (Not to mention that Google has told us again and again to think about user experience when we optimize our sites.)


Step 4: Update Your Ads

Look at your advertising. Optimize your PPC ads to include your new keyword list. We’ve already written5 TipstoWriteBetterGooglePPCAdCopy, so I won’t repeat all of the rules here. Just remember to use keywords in your headlines and be mindful that your customers want the ad they click on to match the page they land on. Now that you’ve gone through all of these steps, you should have that covered. You’ll be reaching the most customers with the most relevant pages. It’s a win for them and a win for you.


Step 5: Track Your Changes

Monitor your results. Use Google Analytics to see if your changes and updates are working. Here are a few easy metrics to check:


  • Unique Visitors: You want this number to increase. In this case, it likely means that more people are finding your site in searches and clicking through to it.
  • Time on Site or Pages / Visit: More is usually better. Sometimes, though, a high Pages per Visit number could mean that customers are clicking around, unable to find what they’re looking for. Use your best judgment here.
  • Bounce Rate: Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who click to your website and leave. Generally, bounce rates should be low (but there are always exceptions.)


Use this keyword exercise to better understand how your customers are using Google so that you can update your site to better meet their needs. Your customer-centric, long-term business strategy will be rewarded with better rankings and more visitors!


Written by 451 Marketing intern, Stephanie Beadell,  Master of Science in Mass Communications major at Boston University Dec 2012.


Amanda Cuoco is a Social Media Strategist at 451 Marketing. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaCuoco

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