When I was a beginner in internet marketing, every webinar I attended, every talk I heard, emphasized the need to get the keywords right. Aha, I thought… keywords… those are the words people search for. If their search and my specified keywords match, my ad/article/post/video will show up high on the search engine. Cool. How complicated can that be? Of course I know what people are searching for… “make money, work at home, online business “… I’ll use those words, I thought… simple.
Over time, I got not-overwhelmingly-great results. Hmmm. Actually nothing showed up on Google in the first 10 pages.
Hmmm. SEO. Search Engine Optimization. People seem to be making a lot of money with it. These techniques place keywords at the ‘right spots’ for the search engines spiders (bots) to ‘crawl over’ to them.
Now I am not one to spend money on something I know I can learn by putting two and two together. So I just spent a lot more time. And learned what I share here.
What I know can be split in 3 parts:
1. What search engines look for
2. Where you can look for what they look for
3. Where you can place what you found
What search engines look for
Initially it was a mystery to me how Google* can ‘see’ a video and know where to classify it and when to bring it up.
Now if you have ever posted a video, you’ll recall there are 3 things you feed in. The title, the description and the tags. You also save your video with a ‘filename’. Remember that.
Google is looking to serve content that its users will be happy to read. Why? Because if Google understands what they are searching for they will keep searching. So Google uses lots of programming to constantly ‘prune its garden’ of content grass.
Yes, Google is a living organism. The biggest artificial intelligence on the planet. It knows what everyone in the connected world is thinking (searching for) and carefully organizes what it serves you. Scary? Live with it! And read the book Perry Marshall’s definitive guide to Google AdWords to master Google with authority.
So Google will constantly stay in touch with places where content comes up. YouTube, Squidoo, EzineArticles, Free Press Release are some places like that. It will check for new tags, descriptions, names and titles every few hours and index them. Then it will serve and watch. If people click your content (because the keyword/tag matched) but press the ‘back’ button in a few seconds and came back to search, Google will know your content is not really matching your words. “Shady guy. Says something… does something else.” Google will make a mental note.
Similarly, the search engines will (on a lesser frequency) check for what’s new on all sites on the net. You may use pingomatic .com once a week to ‘ping’ the spiders so they know you’re generally posting something new every week.
Don’t ping very often. Remember how irritating it is when the doorbell keeps ringing? Same with Google. You want it to like you.
This apart, search engines also look for picture names, headings, link text and URLs. Let us understand these by example. Say you are into dog food. Now you will do just great if you can get these in order:
1. Get a URL like dogfood .com Generally this will not be available. So try welovedogfood.com A great site to check for these is pcnames.com Once you have a name, register it at namecheap.com or any service you find ok.
2. If you already have a blog domain like youname .com and dogfood is an interest area, create a permalink yourname.com/dogfood This is more easily available but less authoritative.
3. Now your title. This is the part that appears in the blue band on top (left side of the minimize-close buttons). Make sure the words ‘dog food’ are there.
4. In your headline, use the words ‘dog food’.
5. Putting up a picture of your product? Name it “yourname dog food”
6. Filling out a description box? Use dog food several times. Also /Alternatively in the first para, with other words around it eg ‘dog food lovers buy yourname dog food because dog food from yourcompany is dof good’.
7. Select the tags as dog food, dog food lovers, yourname dogfood, yourcompany dog food etc. Notice the inane repetition. Also notice variations… with and without spaces dogfood and dog food. All these count.
8. Wherever you can, especially towards the beginning and end of text, incorporate “yourname dog food” and hyperlink it to your site. This is called anchor text and the link helps score brownie points for your site on the keyword/s in anchor text.
9. Lastly, note down all the keywords you’ve used so you can check how well they’re showing up. You are into a scientific experiment on artificial intelligence! Congrats!
Where you can look for what they look for.
Now this is the most boring part. Also the most fundamental. Like most things in life, veggies included.
It’s best to keep a pen and scribble pad handy. This is very important advice. Do it now.
As we go through, we’ll follow a 3 step process. Just know that we are aiming to figure out 3 things:
1. What words do people search for
2. How many people search, how often and where (traffic)
3. How many sites use the same keyword (competition)
In case you are doing keyword research for pay per click (PPC) advertising you would also need to consider ‘commercial value’ of your keyword (will it be profitable). But this is what the paid keyword softwares are about and beyond the scope of this article.
So here goes:
Step 1 : Think of a seed keyword and type it in this tool (for now it will be ‘dog food’).
This tool will throw up lots of phrases related to dog food along with number of searches per month. This keeps changing with time… what I see now are (top 5):
dog food – 2,740,000 searches /month
dry dog food – 165,000 searches /month
dogs food – 135,000 searches /month
best dog food – 110,000 searches /month
natural dog food – 110,000 searches /month
Try it. That’s the best way to learn.
Step 2 : Pick some of these search words that relate to you (maybe you are not into ‘dry dog food’ so don’t bother with it) and hop across to google.com/insights/search
Here you’ll get trends of how much the search word is searched for. Which countries / states. Any seasonality and so on. Change the filters to find out. Now you have some relevant keywords that work in your area. Right?
Step 3 : Go to Google and type your selected 10 (or so) keywords in. Look for the number of sites it displays on the top right. For dog food I see:
” Results 1 – 10 of about 43,400,000 for dog food with Safesearch on”
Phew! 43 million is a very big number. Try ‘dogs food’ and it will show up 25 million. That’s still a lot. Go down the list in step 1 and add a word or two till you can hit a sweet spot less than 500,000. A well optimized site will rank high in that kind of competition. Now you see why it’s tedious and boring? Well you can buy a keyword research software tool to help you.
Where you can place what you found
Now you finally have 10 (or so) keywords that work and for you exclusively. Follow the 9 points of section 1 (above) to place them at the right places in your content. That’s obvious.
Also get back to Google with the keywords you dropped (now you see why you needed the scribble pad?). Look up which sites score well on them. For instance, for ‘dog food recipes’ I find 20 million competitors… but there is a YouTube video at spot # 5. This tells us YouTube is being tracked by Google on this word. Study that video. Do better keyword packing and post your video on YouTube. In a day or two, if this video is replaced by yours… bingo you have your site linked from the first page of Google (be sure to start your description with your site address)!
If this last part got you, that’s the law of the jungle… you don’t have to be the fastest deer… you have to be faster than the slowest to not be eaten!
But it’s not always so simple. The site on top may have a history, lot of back-links, links from authority sites like .gov and .edu… all of which give it credibility. So you can’t ever say for sure. What you can do however, is keep posting good stuff on popular sites with your keywords matched… and who knows, maybe a .gov site will link back to you!