Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Improving traffic to your blog - Keywords

.. cause you want to be found, don't you?

At the end of the day one would like one's blog to be read. That is an assumption which I think might be true for most of the millions of bloggers. The intended readers might be just a small group of friends, but maybe also a larger audience is hoped for.

This is part three of the series and focuses on keywords.

Keywords

What keywords are is a subject that one can write shelves full of books about and several people have written pages and pages full of it.

First one remark: this is not about the META-tag that sits hiding in your Head-section. It is largely accepted that the value of that META-tag has been devaluated and has little to no significance. Abuse of this tag by stuffing it with multiple instances of the keyword has rendered it useless. This is the fate of most blackhat SEO practices where tricks are used to raise the importance of a page. In the long run any page and site will punished for this.

So what are keywords then?

Relevant keywords

I tend to think of keywords as the words a visitor enters in the search box of a search engine. The keywords therefore should be present in the content and also relevant to your content. And vice versa: the content should be relevant to the keywords. It is easy to add a sentence like:

Equipe claims, Lance Armstrong innocent in Tour de France drugs scandal.
And by adding some mark up to the text I have added some more weight to the words. But these words are totally irrelevant to this subject. But hey it could raise the importance of this page.

This is reminiscent of the old days when adding multiple hot keywords to your keywords META-tag could help you up the ladder of the search engines. (And yes "sex" was a hot keyword in those days.)

Choosing keywords

Now try to figure out what someone would type in a search engine to find information about that subject. And then make some variations on the words used, make some deliberate typos. Now try to use these words in your content. Put them in important places, like headings, lists, make them bold. That way not only are they easier spotted by the reader, but also by the search engine spider.

Keyword density

Next piece of semi science regarding keywords: how many times should keywords be on a page (aka the keyword density). There are many ways to calculate this. Rule of thumb, use them throughout the text but do not let it be annoying

Keywords research

A lot of common sense can bring you a long way in determining relevant keywords for your content. But you can never guess what people type in the search box of the search engine and make them end up on your site. One way to find out what is bringing people now to your site is by examining your web server's log files. Most web statistics packages give you specifics on the search queries and search words used. This list of words can already give some wonderful insight in what people use as search terms. You can consider to use these terms more often in your content, in other words get the density up for those keywords.

Also the results from this research can trigger you think of some more synonyms and alternative keywords.

Keyword research tools

There are many tools out there that can help you find more keywords and the possible effectiveness of these keywords. A few of these tools:

Many tools are available to play with. Some of these are free, others not.

To cut myself short

Bottom line of this is quite simple: you have blogged about a subject that you wish to be found. People use words to search, use these words and you might get found.

This is part of a series of articles on improving traffic to your blog.