Ideally – if I wanted a site completely focussed on websites for small business I would do the following:
I would try to get the exact domain name match e.g. websitesforsmallbusiness.com (or net or org) – there is definitely a bias from Google in favour of exact match domains (this does not extend to .info, .ws. .biz .co or any other extension). In this case those domains are unavailable and I wanted to focus the site on a particular country, so I went with the .co.nz extension.
I would include the keywords I was targetting in the blog’s title – sometimes you can’t get, didn’t get, didn’t think before you established a website – so end up with a stupid domain name e.g. lissowerbutts.com – but you can still target a totally different keyword by using the title tag. Ideally though I’d have had an exact match domain name.
Then I’d add the keyword again into my tagline.
I’d head over to the permalink settings and change them from the default for WordPress – which is the ugly ?p21 format and make them %postname% so that now I would have “pretty” urls like http://websitesforsmallbusiness.co.nz/website-package which include the page’s and post’s titles.
If I wasn’t using a theme such as Catalyst which includes SEO options I would install a FREE plugin such as all-in-one-SEO or Platinum SEO. I would tell the SEO options it to NOT noindex categories and tags and other pages.
Using those SEO options I’d add the main keyword into the title and meta-description of my homepage, and it and related keywords in the overall meta tags of the blog. This counts for very little – Yahoo may still use meta tags, Google probably doesn’t. Google may or may not use your meta description in your site’s search engine’s listing.
Now having done all that – I would add some posts and pages – which – obviously – would talk sometimes about websites for business in NZ or websites for small business or even cheap websites for NZ business– all obviously closely related.
If I was feeling really ethusisastic I would add some optimized images. Now Google is pretty stupid – its only a computer and tell that the bunch of pixels at the top of the post are about the consequences of earning a passive income online. So I told it! (Yeah I know its a stretch but I don’t have an image of banknotes lying on the beach!). BTW traffic you get from Google’s image search are notorious for only staying long enough to steal your images, they are useless as readers or revenue sources! To optimize an image do the following:
change the name of the image – before you upload it – include your keyword in the new image’s title – mine is now called https://lissowerbutts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Perth-From-Rottnest-passive-income-reward1.jpg
then when you import the image – make sure the title, the alt-title, the description and the caption all to include the keyword of interest.
Targeting More Than One Keyword on a Website
All of the above was an example of a small and focussed website. Not all websites are like that – this one sure isn’t it – it ranks quite well for its main keywords passive income online and related terms. But I also rank for terms utterly unrelated to those. How does this happen – well I do two things – I add relevant content. For example I rank quite well for the term postrunner and postrunner review – that’s entirely deliberate. This is what I did – I wrote a post: Postrunner Tutorial – used the keywords and related terms in the title, at the start of the post and at the end. I didn’t try for any particular number of times – I didn’t unecessarily captialise, bold or italicize the term – though it was natural to use it in sub-headings that happen to be bolded…
Then I wrote another post – also about Postrunner – I linked the two together – simply to tell my readers that there was a previous post that they should maybe read first – and to tell the search engines the same thing. I used the same category and similar tags for the two posts. Google now knows that I have quite a lot of i.e. more than one page, about this particular topic – that gives my pages a boost up the rankings,and hopefully a double listing (if I use exactly the same anchor text linking from each post to the other).
Ultimately you can get one website ranking for a bunch of unrelated keywords – and even it you started totally wrong – you can change everything up but adding titles and revising posts and get the same effect in the end. The key though is to get the site ranking for one keyword first – once you have the first ranking it will be quicker and easier to get subsequent rankings.
So over a couple of thousand words that’s pretty much a free on-page SEO guide. Its really not that hard – and almost all of your effort should actually be directed at getting backlinks for your site !
A few months ago I wrote a Scribe SEO review which created a lesson in online reputation management in the comments – which was interesting – but hardly the point. My point was that there is nothing difficult or technical about “optimizing your blog for SEO” – and I promised that I would write more about on page SEO. A promised and then I promptly forgot about. But I have had more than one person contact me about a free alternative to a tool like Scribe SEO – so here is my version of it. Its free – its here, you don’t even need to subscribe for the e-book – frankly there is not enough to write to fill an e-book – well not the important stuff anyway.
I am NOT an SEO Expert
I can do SEO, I know what I need to know to rank sites in Google. I am not an innovator, and I don’t do a lot of testing. This seems to appeal to the inner Geek – I am a part-Geek but not with SEO. I do practical SEO which works for my sites.
SEO=search engine optimization – but what we all really mean is Google optimization – Google is the only game in town because it has so much of the search traffic. Ranking top in Yahoo or Bing is nice but pretty worthless as far as search traffic is concerned.
BUT Google changes all the time – most recently was the so-called MayDay Update – which caused angst and concern throughout the online Internet Marketing world – if you haven’t heard about it – don’t worry – and save yourself several hours of reading – don’t Google “Mayday update”
On Page SEO – A Practioner’s View Point
Not every post I write here is focussed on getting search engine traffic – in part this is just a social blog which allows me to connect to readers – and mix it up a fair bit. That’s OK and it doesn’t affect the site’s rankings for the keywords I DO target. Because Google ranks pages not sites in general. But before we even get to where you should be using your keyword on-page lets step back to ask the most basic question? If you have a popular site you can get traffic to any post – just my publishing it! But if you want to draw in new readers the easiest way is to have at least some posts which are keyword focussed.
What Are My Keywords?
You can’t rely on any tool to tell you what you keywords are! To do so is like sitting down and writing a novel and then working out what the plot is! You must have at least some idea before you start! Which is not to say that you should completely ignore market demand. If you want to write about garden design – it doesn’t require a genius to know that anything with the words “eco” or “green” in the title may sell better than others.
But even if you are short of ideas – Google will help you for free! In particular Google will tell you what terms they think your search is related to.
For example – go to google in and type indigenous landscape design. Google will tell you what it thinks you mean in two ways: as you type in the drop down it will offer alternatives, and at the very bottom of the page – you will see “searches related to indigenous landscape design ”
Now this particular keyword is an excellent example of having to know something about your niche and the way that niche uses language. Indigenous means “the original people (or other things: plants etc) of an area” – any biologist, anthropologist, zoologist would know that. But in Australia it is also the term very specifically used quite often in the media – where an American might talk about Native affairs or Native title and a New Zealander would talk about Tangata Whenua or Maori title – politically correct Australians would use the term Indigenous to reflect the people who were living in Australia when the Europeans happened upon the so-called Terra nullius. Aborigine is incorrect (it excludes Torres Strait Islanders and implies that almost all of the original Australians are the same race (they are not)), and native is associated with previous racist policies of white Australia.
Now having lived in Australia I know that Australia has huge issues with using the land inappropriately – e.g. commercially growing rice (which needs huge amounts of water) in the semi-arid Murray-Darling basin. Even home gardeners seem to grow far more more roses and lawns than the local flora (which is quite beautiful – I am using this post just to show off some of my better shots of it LOL)
So with that background when Gordon from Indigenous Landscape Design Australia asked me about a free alternative to Scribe SEO a thought his site was a really good example of a site which is doing most things right – but could be improved with a few additions. First a note about
Country Specific Keywords
Almost nothing is more country (if not region) specific than anything related to gardens and gardening. The information is specific, the plant varieties are specific and the stuff that grows in Cairns certainly won’t grow in Tasmania or Alberta. If you are targeting a specific country – get the specific countries TLD in this case .com.au – but also co.uk, .ca. .co.nz etc. This is the biggest hint to Google that your site is relevant to a single country – in fact the default now is for Google to show “sites from NZ” if I search from Google.co.nz – which is the default browsers for users in NZ. It doesn’t really matter where you sie is hosted (US is generally cheapest) – but you do need that TLD as a big hint in the domain name. As we are talking about an Australian site with an Australian audience I am using the Australian Google from here on:
So from google.com.au
as I typed in indigenous landsc… I got suggested:
indigenous landscapes – too broad
indigenous landscape design Australia – nice lots of searchers will add their country
indigenous landscaping – possible – might be too broad
indigenous landscaping ideas – excellent seracher wants info
indigenous landscaping omaha – huh – don’t think so
indigenous landscaping systems – hmm maybe – I don’t know enough about the topic to comment
once I insisted on searching for my original term – at the bottom of the page I got the related terms of:
Even More Related Keywords
So armed with this knowledge – and what very little I know about the topic – I head off to Google’s free keyword tool . Set the results to the relevant country (in this case) – toss in all the terms I think might be relevant from the above search and voila:
A note about search volumns and cost per click. This tool is designed for the USERs of Adwords ie the advertisers who pay for those Adsense ads that some of us make money from. This doesn’t mean its not useful even if you are not an adwords advertiser or publisher. If someone is paying to advertise for a term such “landscaping design” there is probably some chance of making money from it. Though if you change the search volumne over to “exact match” you will see that its not a huge volume. Even if you get the “not enough data” against a term – this doesn’t mean there are NO searches – again you need to know your market. Almost all New Zealand specific terms come up with that statement (there are only 4 million of us living here) – but that’s not to say that people don’t search for “small garden design” in NZ! It just means compared to the global demand for a term like “erection problems” its not very high!
You don’t necessarily need high search volume to make money if you are offering expensive products and services e.g. a garden design service. But you do need to be using your customers language – and Google is offering you these suggestions because this is what your customers are using to search in Google for. Yes “outdoor landscaping” is a tautology – but 58 people a month in Australia search for it!
Now this site may be too specific – Gordon is already #1 and #2 for “indigenous landscape design” out of over 3,000,000 results. This suggests that there is not much competition and probably not much demand. But he will know what the demand is by checking his Analytics or other stats package – once you get to the top of the rankings you will know exactly what your traffic is!
And while you are there – your statistics are another excellent source of keyword ideas – people will find your site by using the oddest searches – and your stats should show you these.
Maybe I was wrong, perhaps my free on page SEO guide should be a book! Anyway its going to be a multi-part post obviously! Click here for part 2: Using Keywords in Your Site
What is a keyword – or more specifically what is a long tail keyword phrase – caused me endless confusion when I first began. I totally didn’t get it – that’s why products like Scribe SEO exist – to prey on beginner’s confusion. That’s unacceptable in my view – so here is the information that you need about keywords. Its here for free, you don’t have to sign up for any membership site or even a one off payment.
There are heaps of erudite SEO expert posts on keywords out there – this isn’t one of them. Instead this is an attempt to take it back down to basics – stick with me because I want to start to with a real world business example – and then we will move onto niche sites and blogs.
Keywords For a Service Business
I’m going to tell you how to do it for free. Lets assume you offer house washing services – purely because I am in the market for the same at the moment. Now I may search for “house washing” now this gives me a mixture of results including DIY articles on how to wash my house down and news results for house washing. But I am not interested in learning to wash my house down – I want someone to do it for me! The result is somewhere there in the 7 million pages returned by that first query – but its too hard to find. Instead I try again and type “house washing service” now I have the right sort of result – but they are in Michigan and Atlanta – its (now) obvious I want a local service – so I try “house washing service Wellington”.
So pretty much your keywords are all terms that should appear on your business card; what services you provide and the geographic locality that you service. Most businesses will have a number of keywords. House washing dude may end up with a list that looks like this:
house washing Wellington
house washing northern suburbs Wellington
water blasting Wellington
window washing Wellington
quick quote house washing Wellington
guaranteed house washing Wellington
So basically the keywords for a service business include each service you provide (house washing, water blasting), the location you services (Wellington, northern suburbs) and your unique selling points (guaranteed, quick quote). And all of these are in the language that your customers will use to find you – not the industry terms common among the experts!
Keywords for a Consultancy Business
One of the things I learned in my brief tenure over at Third Tribe Marketing was that an awful lot of people start with the thought that they are going to use the Internet as way to drum up services as a consultant. Common trades seem to include:
Social Media Consulting
WordPress Blogging Tips and Tricks
This is a little trickier – basically because its harder to define a consultancy business – a plumber has regulations about not doing building or electrical work, possibly unfortunately, white collar consultants do not. From a business point of view you really, really should define your services very clearly. If you are planning on providing “web services” to the world and can’t define it any further – your problem is not keyword identification – its a business plan!
Next you should be aware that not all keywords are possible to rank for easily. Some have more competition than others. In broad terms the longer the phrase the more likely you will get to rank for it fairly easily and the more likely you will get a paying customer. For example which of the following phrases typed into a search engine by a potential customer do you think may convert to an actual customer? Lets assume you are selling writing services
web freelance writer
freelance writer for hire
freelance writer for hire cost less than $500
freelance writer to write about home improvements
Now before some freelance writers jump on me and say some of those terms are not grammatically 100% – I say that’s the point – people tend to type into Google as they think – they don’t edit for perfect grammatical structure. Useful keywords are ones that reflect how people search – not the text book!
Now those last couple of phrases will show in the Google Adwords tool as having no searchers – that’s an approximation. The same tool tells me there is no searches for people looking for family home for sale in Khandallah but there is at least one – I have shown her the house… At that’s the point I need exactly one person to buy the house, if you are freelance writer a client a week or even a month could be the start of a profitable career – you don’t need a thousand new clients a month to launch a freelance writing career – so find very long tail keywords that relate to the services you can offer and use them for post titles – it really is that simple.
So Which Longtail Keywords Should I Use on My Blog?
Many people start off in the general – this is my life or my work or my passion blog. These seem to particularly struggle with adding keywords to their posts – because its an after thought. Often they have bought into posting an excessive number of times a week – i.e. more than the once I manage around here. They’ve been told they have to post all the time – guys YOU DO NOT! Some of my favourite bloggers post once every few months – but when they do post its a useful, worthwhile and generally long post – it usually then has another few thousand words added in the comments – if you are good enough people won’t forget you! I’m not that good – but I can go weeks without posting anything here – and it rarely drops my subscriber count, doesn’t hugely effect my traffic, and makes little to no difference to the income I earn from this site.
Oh and you can ignore a site for months and suddenly start posting again to – I just did with a site of mine – posted for the first time in 4 months- indexed within 24 hours!
Why? Because most of the people who buy from me come from search traffic – often they will stick around, clearly dazzled by my deathless prose, but I measure success by income not subscribers (blame it on my bank – they are more interested in dollars in my account not my feedburner stats!).
If you are trying to kick start a new blog – or an old one which has the classic 10 readers, one of which is your mother – think about what you are offering your readers: if you aren’t offering them something then that could be part of the problem. This is why focusing on a niche for a blog is easier – if you start writing about the joys of being a first-time step dad and then continue onto to home renovation – your original audience may fall by the wayside. Which is not to say that you can’t have several topics going at the same time – but starting with one and expanding it will be easier – not just to bring your audience with you but also for the search engines to rank your posts because they have already ranked you for related terms.
Which is not to say you can’t change topics and introduce new things. For example when I started getting a significant number of readers here a lot of us knew each other from online forums – most of my readers knew more about keyword search than I did. But recently I seem to have acquired some new readers who may have missed some of these basics – so hence this post. Some of my regulars will have dropped off by now – but they should be off doing some work anyways- those that are still awake may have learned something.
So What’s a Buying Keyword?
I thought this was magic for a while too. A buying keyword is also known as commercial intent. Sometimes we search to buy stuff – sometimes we don’t. Consider these search terms which I just made up:
When I typed in the query about fish recipes – I got the recipe for the kedgeree that I was looking for – there were ads on the page but Iwasn’t interested – recipes are great things to find online but don’t expect to start a recipe site and make money – you visitors want the recipe – you’ve answered the need – end of story. I site about cooking techniques would possibly do better
Passive income – its kinda in between – people are looking for information – they may want to do something with that information – they may become regular readers or subscribers (in the way the fish recipe person probably won’t) – but they don’t have a huge urge to act now.
The Canon SX20 IS is my latest oh so cool gadget – its a top-ranked megazoom camera with a 20X optical zoom and a 12MB maximum file size and does cool video too – I love it! Now I bought it recently and I was aware of how to search online but basically I started with a search along the lines of “wide angle, 20x zoom, AA batteries” and came down to narrowing it down to this one and another I searched on the very specific model number to understand the pluses and minuses of that particular model. Its an expensive camera I wanted to be sure. I spent 5 minutes going to a local shop and holding it in my hand – I spent hours finding all the reviews for it. It should have been a buying keyword for someone – unfortunately I don’t live in the US and the cheapest place I could buy it doesn’t have an affiliate program – and that’s one of the reason that usually US traffic will convert better (Amazon won’t ship the camera to New Zealand (or Australia) and that’s very common for electronics). Not all search traffic is equal – luckily you are unlikely to get serious numbers of visitors to your camera review site so don’t worry about it too much!
Generally as you get closer to spending money the longer the keyword you type in “Florida vacations” could be a school assignment on American domestic travel or a bored office worker dreaming at their desk, “family Florida vacations” – is someone getting a bit more serious about actually spending some money: “Florida Disney World Vacation hotels” – is getting better – but “Florida Disney World Vacation hotels coupons” could be a very good buying keyword indeed (it may or may not be – its not mine, its just my opinion, your mileage may vary etc etc).
Oh and engage brain about buying keywords before you use a tool – if someone is looking for a free WordPress theme – do you really want them on a blog you are trying to sell paid WordPress themes from?
So find specific keywords for your niche – sure start with the Adwords tool for brainstorming – but look at what is being pushed on TV and newspapers as well.
You’ll notice that cool camera pic is named for the name and model and has a similar caption and alt-text. Google can’t “read” images – it reads the name of the image, the alt tag and the caption …
Double Indexing in Google and Retrofitting Keywords
Now this is a bit of confession – not every post here is written with a keyword in mind – in fact in the early days – none of them were. Even these days I will sometimes just post cause I want to share with my readers and can’t be arsed with the search traffic.
But there is a secret to old posts – and I don’t do this often enough – the edit key. This is the trick to getting a double listing. Obviously ranking on the first page for a keyword is nice – but getting double listing is even better: one that looks like this:
The trick is this – each post has a link within the text of the post which links to the other one with the anchor text “third tribe review”. I usually work it something like . In the second post I will say that as a follow up to my recent post on (and I ad the link) <long tail keyword phrase here> blah blah. Then I edit the first post and often at the end of the post I will add a sentence or so that that says – read my follow up of <long tail keyword phrase> here.
FAQs About Keywords
Does capitalisation matter? It may to the grammar police – but not to the search engines – the key word lis sowerbutts is exactly the same as Lis Sowerbutts – how do I know – try the two searches and compare the results – you will find they are the same.
Is the plural version of a keyword the same as the singular? No its not – but they are very closely related. Rank yourself for “blue widget” then getting the ranking for “blue widgets” will be much easier.
Does punctuation matter? To EzineArticles definitely, Google – no. Whether you link to “blue widgets” or blue widget’s” or even “blue widgets’ ” its all the same to Google – they are all the same keyword phrase. Same goes for punctuation – whether you link to: ” Products are available in red or blue. Widget and doodas are available ..” Or “blue widget” the keyword is the same keyword.
On Page SEO
That is the book as far as I am concerned about on-page SEO. The short version of how to write for your readers is something like:
write descriptive titles (headlines);
I link to relevant posts on the same topic in the text of the post;
use subheadings if it fits in – use your keyword in them if reads naturally;
include useful information in the post about the topic – this means I will naturally use terms related to my my main keyword;
If I am writing for search engines I do:
all of the above
I try to include my keyword in the first 60 characters so its automatically in the post’s excerpt which is shown in the search engines;
more words is better than less – the reason that this post is so long is hat the main keyword is quite competitive – the more I write the more likely I am to hit some obscure phrase that someone may search on…
if I am using WordPress -add relevant tags to each post and make sure the blog is set up to index the tag pages
if the whole blog is about a specific keyword I include that in the title and sometimes the tagline
My point is that none of the stuff I do for the search engines to find my keywords – has any affect on my readers, if you are in a non-make money online, non-SEO niche they won’t even notice.
This really is all you need to know about what you should be writing on your site as far as long tail keyword research is concerned. If you want to seriously increase you traffic then spend a bit more time find long tail keywords you can easily rank for and less time pushing out more and more content which is unlikely to really engage your readers or show up in the search engine results.
Of course the on-page SEO stuff I have been talking about here is the 20% – the other 80% of your effort should all be about Back Links – but that’s another post and fortunately Allyn’s already written the definitive post about how to get backlinks check it out !