It’s a well-known fact that identifying and using keywords and phrases on your website will help you rise in the search engine rankings when your prospects enter those terms online.

What’s not as well known is the fact that 80 percent of the people who search online today click on the “natural” search engine results (leaving only 20 percent of the people who search online to click on the “paid” listings). That’s why search engine optimization is critical for the success of your business, and the first step to achieving optimization for your site is knowing what keywords to use and how to apply them.

For instance, if you sell “widgets,” then you want to identify all the words and phrases associated with “widgets” that your prospects might enter when shopping online, and make sure to include them within the content of your site. Phrases such as widgets, blue widgets, exotic widgets, unique widgets, customized widgets, widget devices and buy widgets online might all be good choices.

What Worked Yesterday…

Back in the early days of the Internet, you could pretty much put keywords anywhere on a page and your page would rank for that term. It didn’t even matter what your page was about—it could have been about something completely unrelated to widgets, but as long as those keywords were somewhere on that page, you’d rank for that keyword.

For instance, let’s say your competitor sold “gadgets.” Gadgets were completely different from the widgets you sold, but your competitor wanted to lure as much traffic as possible to his site. To do that, he would also include your keywords on his site (widgets and related terms). Because search technology wasn’t very advanced in the early days of the Internet, his gadget site would appear in the rankings when your customers went searching for your widgets online.

Imagine how frustrating it was for web users when they went searching for widgets and all these unrelated sites came up!

The goal of all search engines is relevance. If they can’t provide relevant results so web users can quickly find what they’re looking for, then people will find a new search engine. That’s why search engines have become much more savvy about how they rank web pages—and why you too must become savvy in order to rank well.

… No Longer Works Today

It’s been a gradual evolution on the part of the search engines to where we are today. The search engines look at content on your page and perform a contextual analysis to make sure what you say your page is about really is what it’s about.

Along the way, they’ve gotten wise to a lot of tricks people have tried to fool the search engines, such as:

The engines look at your content to determine whether it appears “natural,” in other words, whether this is how you would write if you were writing an article to publish in a magazine. If not, then the search engines will penalize you, and as a result, you won’t rank well for your keywords.

As the engines get more sophisticated, they reward sites that provide good content, written naturally, that benefits the reader and is relevant to what your site is about.

So how can you make sure each of your web pages contains your keywords in such a way that you get the most benefit?

Write Naturally

Natural web pages have the following characteristics:

While there are “experts” who will tell you to strive for a certain percentage of keywords within your page, known as “keyword density,” it’s much better to aim for pages that are written naturally, that provide a real benefit to your reader and that are relevant to the topic of your site.

Following these guidelines should help you achieve that kind of natural writing, resulting in better rankings and happier visitors to your site.

CAROLINE MELBERG is President and CEO of Small Business
Mavericks, a division of Melberg Marketing. She has over twenty
years of experience creating marketing materials and writing copy
for some of the most successful companies in the world and she’s a
leading expert on Internet marketing for small businesses. To learn
more about blogging for your small business and download her e-book, visit
www.networkingtimes.com/link/melberg