SEO – Choosing Keywords

Upper Peninsula SEO and Web DevelopmentOne of the most effective means to rank in search engines is the effective use of keywords. There are, of course, other strategies that can be and are very effective, some are black-hat and most involve linking in some way. However, I don’t think any SEO expert would deny that fresh content and smart keyword use is fundamental to ranking highly and staying there.

If choosing the right keyword set is so important for search engine optimization, how do you go about choosing the right keyword set? That is the toughest optimization question I struggle with whenever I develop a domain, and it really comes down to the following questions:

  • What keywords will searchers use while searching for your product or brand, and what is the traffic volume for those keywords?
  • How many results did the search engine display for your search terms and what is the competition levels for those keywords?
  • What are some alternative keyword sets, and what is the search volume and competition levels for those?

Some effective and free SEO tools to research these factors include:

  • Adwords Keyword Tool
  • Search-Based Keyword Tool
  • Trends
  • Insights
  • Plain Ole Searching Around – Ask friends and family. Try to find products and brands similar to yours, what keywords or search terms did you use?  How many search results did the search engine display for your keyword set?
  • SeoQuake – While searching around, use SeoQuake to analyze how your competition got where they are. Was it good content and keyword use or linking that got them there? What keywords do they rank highest for?

Note: A very common mistake commonly made is using a business or brand name in the chosen keyword set. The brand name in the keyword set or domain name is often unnecessary, and the lost opportunity can be damaging.

Iron Mountain Web Developer and SEONarrowing the Field and Finding the Niche:

Higher competition levels require optimization focus or a niche. For instance, ranking on the first page for “SEO” on a global scale would bring massive visitor volume, but would be nearly impossible because, especially with a new domain, there are a zillion other domains to compete with. Ranking for “Michigan SEO” or even “Upper Peninsula  SEO” would be much easier, but would have much less visitor volume.

Therein lies the trade-off. Where narrowing down keyword fields and the competition analysis for those fields becomes more of an art, and keyword choice intuition. Some ways to narrow the keyword field include:

  • Products or Services – Using your brand, product or service in your chosen keyword set can be effective.
  • Location – Adding location can be an effective way to narrow your field.

It is important to keep in mind, searchers are becoming more sophisticated in the way they search, and are usually specific when looking for information. They are looking for a local product or service, or want specific information about a particular topic. The point is, while narrowing the field down can sometimes bring less overall traffic, it does allow for a more targeted keyword market.

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Google Adwords Keyword Tool

Cincinnati Web DevelopmentThe Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a good source for researching keyword competition, traffic levels, and alternate keyword phrases.  The monthly search volume can be a little misleading, but if Google Adwords Keyword Tool is used in coordination with other SEO tools such as Insights, Trends, and the Search-Based keyword tool, it can allow for an accurate assessment of the competition levels, volume, and trends of search and alternate search keywords.

Adwords Keyword Tool –

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Google Search Based Keyword Tool

76Fix Cincinnati Web DevelopmentThe Google Search Based Keyword tool is often used to determine competition levels and traffic volume for specific keyword phrases.  For instance, searching for the keyword “Cincinnati” will bring up the most popular keywords often search for, along with the keyword “Cincinnati”.  It also provides for several filtering options, allowing a surprising amount of depth if the information is correctly utilized.

My research indicates that the monthly search volume, competition level graph, and suggested bid price on the Google Search Based Keyword Tool is often a very accurate way to determine the true percentage of these factors if used in coordination with the Adwords Keyword Tool, Google Trends, and Google Insights.

Google-Search Based Keyword Tool –

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Google Trends Offends Lindsay Lohan – Results in BP Oil Leak

Cincinnati SEOGoogle Trends is an search engine optimization tool I’ve found most useful for studying the rise and fall of keyword trends, hot topics and keyword terms currently receiving higher search volume. Blog writers often use Google Trends as a place to find article topics.

For instance, in Google Trends today, the BP Oil Leak in the Gulf of Mexico has just been plugged, (I hope), and I’m sure Lindsay Lohan is out there somewhere getting a camera shoved in her face for our amusement. Both topics “Lindsay Lohan” and “BP Oil Leak” will likely bring in visits just for their presence as keywords in the blog title. Adding an image of either topic, titled and described using a wise set of keywords certainly wouldn’t damage your cause.

This is a technique most often used to garner volume traffic for ad campaigns, and not necessarily for a targeted market.

Google Trends –

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Leave Them shaking with SeoQuake!

Cincinnati Web OptimizationFireFox SeoQuake – Free plug-in
For the firefox users out there, SeoQuake is an excellent tool for checking out your competition, with a plethora of documentation and youtube videos explaining how to use it. It would take you an hour to read all I’ve got to say about it, so let’s leave it at, just check it out.

I can tell you, anybody that uses SeoQuake finds it a little scary. It is the sprained eyebrows, cold sweats and sleepless nights caused by the dawning realization your competition has all this information on you as well.

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Google Insights a Riot!

Insight Screenshot Cincinnati SEOGoogle Insights does not produce actual traffic numbers for a search term, but the rise and fall of web search interest over time. Therefore, this tool works very well for analyzing the fluctuations of interest for given search terms, but not for competition analysis.

Results from experiments I’ve conducted show that the data for top and rising search terms in Google Insights is accurate, and typically worth using as keywords if your competition isn’t too high. In addition, Google Insights used in coordination with Google Trends and Google Search-Based Keyword Tool can really give you a clear understanding of what search terms are most popularly used.


  • Quality Filtering system
  • Regional interest chart
  • Interest over time graph
  • Top and rising search terms

Google Insights –

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Drop that keyword like the f-bomb, yo.

Web Development with SEO Article Writing

Cincinnati Web DevelopmentHands down, I’ve found that article writing is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic. It is not just about writing well though, but also about keyword use, competition and targeted traffic. A focused, well timed and wisely placed article can bring huge marketing benefits and thousands of new visitors.

Fortunately, writing a search engine optimized article is really not much different than writing a book report. Anybody can do it. Using the right keywords, simply get them in there as much as possible, without making the content read like the transcription of a person with Tourette’s syndrome.

Search engines want originality, so be original. If a higher ranking website has the same content as you, it won’t bother displaying a link to your article. Copyscape works well for checking the web for duplicate content, but there are several others to choose from.

WordPress Specific SEO Development

Page/Post Title Optimization

The page or post title is usually the second h1 tag google sees, and typically an anchor in several places throughout a WordPress site. So, yeah. Important. Use your keywords. Be subtle if you can, or use alternative keyword sets, but get some keywords in there. Make it attention grabbing if at all possible as well.

Anchors/Links Optimization

Use your keywords and fill out the alt tag. If you are linking externally, be sure to open in a new window (target:_blank).

Image Optimization

Cincinnati SEOFill out the alt and descriptions using your main or alternative keywords as much as possible. Images can also be links, so bonus. In addition, you can also receive a significant amount of visitors through image search. I’ve also found on numerous occasions that even the image address contributed to higher rankings, so if you are leaving it as a bunch of numbers and letters with a .jpeg at the end, you are wasting an opportunity to use those keywords.

Be original with your images if you can. Think about it, do you ever actually click on those pictures taken from slightly above, with the grotesque parady of working schmoes standing around in various poses and idiot grins on their faces. Hell no. It is the pictures that make you go, “wtf?!”. Those are the pictures that get the real traffic from image search. Just don’t get too carried away, at least make the picture relevant.

Tags and categories are basically internal links to specific tag and category pages on WordPress. Use your main and alternative keywords if possible to fill out all names, slugs, and descriptions.

Let me just emphasis this one more time, any chance you get to fill out an alt tag or description, do it. Search engines see and love that stuff, visitors typically don’t care.

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The Mobile Device

Cincinnati SEO Mobile Trend ChartSomething is happening with the way people are connecting to the web. Mobile devices have become an increasingly popular route for accessing the internet. In fact, for some users, it has become their only means of access! I shake my head in wonder and feel a little older, but it is true.

As this progression becomes more popular, this is something it would be foolish not to consider while developing a website. Without a doubt, at least some potential clients will get their first impression of your brand through their phone, and how your site renders through this new medium will be increasingly important.

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