I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Understanding keywords in 9 steps

Once you set up your website and start reading about getting visitors (traffic) to your site, you are bound to hear about keywords (and key phrases but keywords is often used to mean both).

Here are a few points to help you understand keywords, their importance and how you can use them in your website content (and other online communications).

  1. keywords are simply words that summarise your message – don’t get caught up that they are magical or fancier than that. If you are a plumber, your keywords could be plumber, pipes, gas fitting and domestic, but would exclude business, builder and accounts.
  2. when you enter words into a search engine to find something, you are effectively using keywords. The web pages ranking highest for those keywords are what you will see in the search engine results
  3. behind each web page is some information known as meta data. This is part of how websites and search engines work, so is another aspect of using keywords as you can add a string of keywords in your meta data.
  4. make sure you use keywords that your potential customers will use
  5. don’t use too many keywords as it gets hard to read and search engines may assess it as an attempt to trick them. Always write for humans so it is interesting and relevant, rather than writing nonsense just to get keywords on a page
  6. each page on your site has a different purpose and will have different content so don’t expect each one to have exactly the same combination of keywords. In fact, search engines apparently give better ranks to sites with varied keywords across the site.
  7. specific words (e.g. dresses compared to clothes) are easier to rank well for but they are likely to have fewer searches so you need to balance which keywords are most useful to you. Of course, less effective words can still be used but just less often than your main keywords.
  8. use keywords in your online ads and directory listings, social media profiles, etc – not just in your own web pages. When you have the control, get keywords in the text of links to your site, too.
  9. within the boundaries of writing for humans, remember that keywords earlier in a piece of writing and highlighted in some way will have more impact than keywords late in the piece. (By highlighted I mean placed in a title or heading, in bold font or in italics)

Keywords help people find your messageIf you used a good web designer in creating your site, they have probably added some keywords into your meta data, headers, image descriptions and so on. Likewise, if your content was professionally written, edited or reviewed, there are likely to be some well placed keywords on your site already.

However, it is an ongoing task to keep your keywords working effectively so worth understanding even if someone else manages it for you.

This post is part of Word Constructions’ Setting up a website series
1. having a website helps more than you
2. what’s involved in setting up a website?
3. Learn about web hosting
4. Preparing your initial website content
5. Managing website design 101
6. Choosing a web designer
7. Basic web pages
8. Navigating your site
9. Making web content attractive

Influencing search engine results

Having a website is of little business value unless it is getting seen by people, and preferably the type of people will buy your goods or service.

The March survey of small businesses showed that about two-thirds believe search engines is the key means of finding new customers. Now that may be more or less applicable in your industry or in Australia vs the USA (the survey was in the USA only), but search engines do account for a reasonable amount of website traffic.

Which means that making your website as attractive as possible to search engines is important. You can pay SEO (search engine optimisation is the term for making your site perform better in search engine formulae) or marketing companies to improve your site rankings, but there are also things you can do quite simply. In fact, I’d say some of the simple tasks should be done even if you are paying someone else to help you with SEO.

Here is a quick list of the easy SEO tasks you can do to increase your chances of being found in relevant searches:

  • meaning of SEOuse relevant keywords in your web and blog content
  • provide quality and relevant content on your site – a blog is excellent for this
  • aim your web and blog content at humans – search engines are getting more sophisticated at picking out fake pages of keywords
  • make your content web friendly – search engines read headings, too so make use of them
  • add links to relevant information (on your site and elsewhere)
  • encourage links to your site as much as possible without getting into link farms or spam
  • ensure your web pages and blog posts have relevant meta data (background information about the page) – which means it shouldn’t the same for every page
  • update your site and blog as often as you can to keep it fresh and give people a reason to come back for more – fresh content and visitors both help your search engine rankings

promotional articles worth the effort?

Business success is not guaranteed and there is no magic button to push that will get your  business moving the way you want it to. Repetition of information and tasks is necessary, regardless of how boring it may seem. I have often heard that if you aren’t doing something then you don’t actually know and understand it  – for example, if you drive fast you really don’t understand speed limits and why they exist.

If you have read a lot of my blog and heard me speak then you know I believe in the power of promotional articles. Well, the potential power as many have no idea how to use them properly and therefore fail with them.

What’s so good about promotional articles? In other words, why I do keep writing and talking about them, and giving tips on improving them?

Well here are some of the reasons:

  • you only have to write them once and you can get long term traffic to your website – for example, I wrote about chickenpox in 2003 and it is still one of the most popular articles on my site
  • you can build your credibility by showing you truly know your topic and are willing to share some of your knowledge – higher credibility means more trust from potential clients
  • you can get exposure to new opportunities – I have been approached to do media interviews because reporters have googled a topic and found one of my articles
  • using them on your site may mean fewer questions from people – this can save a lot of time from people just after information without ever planning to pay you
  • people will share your article (either giving a copy to a friend, linking to it or including it in a newsletter for instance) in a way that an ad would never be shared
  • it only costs you to produce it – having it on websites and in newsletters is free. Compare that to paying for an ad to be designed and then to place it anywhere…
  • it provides you with website content that search engines will reward you for – again, this equals more traffic

So do you see any value in using promotional articles for your business?

New listing

I have just added this blog to a directory (the suitably named Web Link Directory!) I came across while researching things online for a client.

What directories have you added your business to? Have you noticed any significant results (positive or negative) from any directory listing?

Admittedly, I did a lot more in the way of directory listings when I first started in business and needed some exposure to get started. I’m not sure I ever got any work from those ads, but I believe they may well have helped get my site noticed by Google and friends. Of course, having relevant, human-orientated content made more difference to my eventual rankings but some initial incoming links helped.

Now, I have less time to look for directories! But more importantly, I take more care in choosing where to place links – relevant sites and sites I consider to be reputable are much more likely to get my notice. Many experts say these links will benefit me more than lots of suspect links, and I don’t disagree with them; besides, I think they are more likely to attract the types of clients I want.

Promoting a blog

Most people who start a blog would like to have some people read it 🙂 And many would like more people to read their blog – whether it is to promote their business, share their passion or express their opinions and experiences, they want someone to read what they have written.

So how can you promote your blog, getting more readers?

I have found a few blog posts recently that cover parts of this topic so I thought I would share them before I gave any tips of my own…

How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog Through Word of Mouth Marketing

Powering Up Your Blog With These 26 Power Lists/Rankings (the list is handy, but the site isn’t impressive with many faulty images, etc)

101 Internet Traffic Generation Strategies – Part 1 Not all the tips will be relevant to your blog, but you may get some ideas.