Key Words on Keywords

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There are up-and-coming search engines that are moving away from keyword placeholders like the ubiquitous meta tag and display results based on what Internet users might want to ask for, depending on what they were doing. It's becoming that much more contextual and exciting. But it still comes down to the keyword, which filters and qualifies who you want to visit on your Web site.

Optimizing a site for natural/organic search (i.e., making the landing pages relevant to specific searching audiences, qualifying those prospects before they click, and then converting them once they do) is just as important as paying for position. Maybe even more, especially as the cost of keywords rises.

Savvy searchers who understand the difference between paid and natural results are more likely to hold the natural results in a higher regard, much like a person reading a magazine would probably be more positively influenced by an article about a particular company than by a paid advertisement from the company.

If you have an existing site or are currently undergoing a site revamp, it should be redesigned and re-written to attract and bring in qualified inquiries via narrower keyword phrases, among other things.

Part of such a strategy is to focus the optimization on one part or aspect of your business (e.g., mortgage leads) via specific keyword phrases to narrow appeal. This is due to the extreme amount of competition for general (or broad) terms in search engines like "sales leads" and "mailing lists."

If your keyword phrases are too general, it is very unlikely they will rank well in the search engines. Your company stands a far better chance to rank well for specific phrases where there is less competition. The resulting traffic, since it is more highly targeted and planned, should also be of much higher quality, too.

For your company's target audience to find your site on the search engines, pages must contain keyword phrases that match the phrases your target audience types into search queries. Keyword phrases must be carefully selected and placed strategically throughout your company's site. Those keywords also need to be integrated into title tags, hyperlink text, alt tags, behind each photo, and high up in the page where they're given more weight.

Picking the right keywords to go after is really critical. If you don't target the right keywords, all your efforts in optimizing for higher rankings will be in vain because you won't be targeting terms that are popular and relevant. Decisions must be made whether service and product names and descriptions do indeed reflect natural vocabulary or jargon.

For example, one engine may list as many search matches for "business leads" as "sales leads," while research may show that buyers search twice as often for "sales leads" than "business leads." What seems to be trivial semantics actually carries a lot of weight. Such keywords are either contracting or expanding your prospect funnel by defining your natural marketplace.

You need to research and choose carefully.

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