Keywords are extremely crucial as they lead search engine users to your site, therefore selecting the right keywords is the first step to better search engine positioning and the most important stage in garnering a prime spot in search engines’ Top 10.

Like our daily tooth brushing, “googling” goes without saying by now and the term has been included in the dictionary for quite some time. For companies it is essential to be found on Google to state that they exist, or let’s say at least are online. Fact is whoever does not exist online, has a significant competitive disadvantage. The current global market leader among search engines are Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Baidu, which share almost the whole cake, as the rest is insignificant. As vital pivots in the web, they direct more than 90 percent of visitors to websites. And let me tell you that keying in your company name doesn’t mean that users that are searching for products, services or solutions will find you, as the top spot on Google & Co. is the dream of many. If it is a hard-fought keyword, the opportunities fall rapidly. Still, the basis for success here is hard work and a lot of effort, which means search engine optimization.

It is an ongoing process that consists of so-called on-and off page factors. On-page factors describe all you can do on your own Web site to improve your ranking. Off-page factors are all measures outside the site. The latter usually have more success, but still the basis of both optimization methods is the knowledge of the best keywords.

In the beginning there was (the) keyword

The right keywords are the key to the website and fundamental for all other measures. Each webpage can be optimized for up to two keywords. But to know the right keywords, you need to know your audience and how your customers tick. Helpful is knowledge of the following characteristics: age, sex, education level, Internet affinity, when collecting all relevant search terms and synonyms. Whether brainstorming or using customer surveys, take into account the following considerations: singular or plural? In which order ("consultancy Singapore" or "Singapore consultancy")? British or American English etc.? You can receive support from free keyword databases that are available on the web, such as the Google Keyword-Tool, which will provide the most common search terms and synonyms. You can get additional keywords from your web statistics, if you have any, as it shows all the terms your visitors used to reach your site. Last but not least, you must clean up the keyword list. Balance the terms critically against each other and check their relevance, as all that then remains forms the input for the following on-page optimization.

On-page factors

Google looks at the most important areas of the website and assesses them accordingly, so you should know them.

Title Tag: The so-called title tag has a huge influence on Google, which is an indication in the invisible head section of the source code of a web page. The title is equally important for Google and for your visitors because an excerpt of what is listed there appears in underlined bold print in the hit list of Google. Ideally, there are important keywords and informative text that invite you to visit the site. You must succeed in balancing between the placement of keywords and attractive text.

Homepage: It is the showcase of your Website and the search engine weighting of its content is particularly strong as it is after all the top level of your site. Be prepared to disclose your name and sources and present yourself in brief: Who are you? What do you offer? What makes you unique?
But don’t make the mistake to overload your home page with texts, which would be counter-productive.

Technology: In order for Google to be able to index your site properly, it must be programmed technically correct. Use clean HTML code, which means without syntax errors. Because it is possible that a bold print isn’t recognized and a headline isn’t understood as such by Google. Framesets are another problem area. If this technique was state-of-the-art in the prehistoric times of the Internet, it is nowadays outdated. You give 30 percent of the potential away when you work with framesets. The better alternatives are called CSS and DIV boxes. Both are modern techniques that your programmer should work with.

Keyword Density: It describes the relative frequency of keywords in a text. Experts recommend a keyword density between three and seven percent, as Google then attaches importance to the keyword. But beware: If the keyword density is significantly higher, the search engine assumes that it is search engine spam and reduces the rating. Always keep in mind that web pages are created for people, not for search engines.

Headings: Google rates headings higher than normal text, thus every website needs a headline.

Menu terms: Similar to the title, menu terms have more weight in Google than the plain Website content, so ideally you put your most important keywords here.

Off-page factors

60 percent of the search engine optimization success is on account of external links, which are also called link popularity or off page factors. This refers to the number and quality of links pointing to your website. The decisive factors are the page rank and the thematic proximity of the link to your website.

Google's Pagerank is a numerical value between zero and ten that reflects the link popularity of a website and can be seen with the Google Toolbar. The higher it is, the better.
In addition you should make entries in trade directories such as Yellow Pages or on appropriate topic or subject portals. A small trick may help to find such portals. Enter your competitors’ sites as follows in Google link: to get an overview of the external links of the competition. Perhaps you can get linked with one or other of the websites you may find.

Seeing all this, you will appreciate why keywords are so vital to search engine optimization. Therefore, to optimize your business and users’ searches, ensure that you thoroughly research your keywords to help you get your gold at the end of the rainbow – in this case, a high search engine ranking.

By Daniela La Marca