Friday, November 09, 2012

4 keyword optimization guidelines for usability and SEO

4 keyword optimization guidelines for usability and SEO

Since most users visit websites after using search engines, optimizing your website for those engines is valuable in obtaining more traffic. The basic factor which determines how websites rank on a search engine's Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is that when users search for certain keywords, relevant sites are listed. The more relevant the content is to those keywords, the higher the chances of your site ranking.

Usability & user experience are ranking factors on SERPs

Thus, you need to ensure that your content contains specific keywords that will make your website easier to find by those users who are using search engines. But how do you know what keywords to choose? The mistake that many SEOs make is that they market to the search engine robots rather than the users themselves. It is nowadays a known fact that search engines take into consideration user experience in order to determine which sites rank on their SERPs. Google themselves state that their goal "is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience". They also warn webmasters by saying that "Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit". Thus, it is essential that content and the keywords that it is optimized for needs to be written with the users in mind. Here are 4 simple steps to get you on your way to a usable and SEO-friendly site.

1. Brainstorm

Think about your website. What is it that you are trying to accomplish with it? Why would people visit your site? What goals will users achieve when the visit your site? Write this information down. Focus on phrases rather than lengthy paragraphs. In this way you will find it easier to convert these phrases into actual keywords or key phrases that people are likely to use in order to find your website. These can range from the very specific, such as industry jargon, to broader topics within the industry you are operating in. Essentially you need to know your readers in order to write usable content for them.

Right at the beginning of this process, you can see how usability and SEO are intertwined. While you may be trying to choose the right keywords for the search engines, you will only be able to achieve this goal if you market toward your target audience. Think about what real people would search for in order to find you and make yourself relevant to them.

2. Check out the competition

Now look at other sites in your market. What keywords do they use? Are these applicable to you? Are they on your list? Add any that you missed. Browse several websites in order to get a well-rounded idea of what your competitors are doing. Type in some of the keywords you already have and check out the sites ranked for those. This is another way to find out if there are any words you are missing.

3. See what keywords are popular

Use a tool such as Google Adwords or another keyword tracker to see how often the terms you wrote down are searched by users. This will give you an idea as to which phrases will be more worth your time to focus on. Be careful about using third party keyword trackers, as there can be security issues. Rank the terms from most searched to least. The most searched will be more competitive to rank for than the least.

By seeing what search terms are popular among users, you can make sure that the content you provide is relevant to those terms. This way, you will be able to make your site pertinent to users' interests. So this is not only about finding the right keywords, but then making sure your site provides useful information related to those keywords. Remember that search engines will get people to your website but it is ultimately good usability which will keep them there and possibly convert them from visitors to clients.

4. Narrow your focus

Now that you have all this information, use it to narrow your focus. Decide which keywords will be worth spending your time on. It might require too much time and effort to focus on very competitive keywords right at the start. This is ok. Focus on some of the mid-tier words and once those help you start achieving your goals, you can focus on the more difficult keywords.

After you determine what keywords you want to focus on, you will want to concentrate on
content density, natural placement, and other SEO techniques. Having pages targeted to specific keywords is a good way to incorporate your keywords into your site. Be careful that you do not make pages unnaturally keyword dense. Not only do search engines discount this, but also it will negatively impact your website's usability.

Final Words

Another great usage for keywords comes in off-site SEO. By varying the keywords you use as anchor text to your links, you strengthen the linkjuice of your blog. Make sure to post relevant links on quality sites and each one will be worth more than a hundred spammy links. Search Engines are trying to reward quality. The best way to measure this is through user experience feedback.

There are a lot of different ways to optimize your website for search engines. Determining your keywords is a great first step though and will get you well on your way to making your site easier for people to locate. The best search engine optimization techniques are those that provide valuable and easy-to-navigate content for readers. If you remember that, you won't have to worry about algorithm updates that have black-hat SEO agencies scrambling.

For more SEO-with-Usability guidelines, be sure to check out these articles: