May 11, 2016 Aaron Carpenter

How to choose the best keywords (for non-experts)

All of our clients get the same advice when we build web applications or websites for them. We call it the “Field of Dreams” conversation.

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come.

Meaning, just because you build an awesome website doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly be flooded with traffic. You have to get people there first. How do you get them there? Business cards with your web address on them, networking, print advertisements, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There are two kinds of SEO: Paid SEO (paid search engine optimization or PPC, also referred to as pay-per-click) and Organic SEO (organic search engine optimization). This article will focus on the very basic essentials that you’ll need to get started with organic seo, that is, ranking on pages for free with Google or other search engines because you have a page they find relevant on the subject.

 

The Basics

First, here’s what you really need to know. Google serves one link for each result it finds relevant to your search. So, you will need a page on your website for each phrase you want to be found on. For instance, let’s assume you’re in real estate. You want to rank on:

Waterfront Property [your town].

You’re going to want to have a page that is focused on that phrase if you don’t already have one. How do you focus on a phrase, or how do you know if your page is already focused or not? The basics are quite simple. Each web page has three fields you need to make sure your phrase is present in: Page Title, Page Description, Page Content. You’ll want to make sure the phrase is present in the page title and the page description at least once. You’ll also want to make sure that you included that phrase in the written content of that page at least 2-3 times.

Of course, there is much more to Organic SEO than what is described above, but anyone can do what we’re pointing out here. Doing this will set you leagues beyond your competition if they’re not doing it. These pages can be a blog post, a page of services on your website, or squeeze pages (which are landing pages on your website that don’t include navigation, but rather focus on a single call to action like calling or filling out a form for a quote).

You’ll also want to make sure that the content is original (not copied and pasted from somewhere else, or even slightly re-worded) and you’ll want at least 400-600 words present on the page. Making sure your content is original and you have sufficient content on the page is key to the search engines picking the page up as relevant on that phrase.

Picking your phrases – A good place to start

Phrases can be long tail or short tail. A long tail phrase is a longer search phrase that is more specific. For example:

“Article that teaches basic seo to a non-expert”

A short-tail phrase is relatively shorter and more broad as a search:

“Basic SEO”

Generally speaking, long-tail phrases are easier to rank on because the competition for that phrase is lower, but they also get less search queries because they’re more specific. In contrast, short-tail keywords are searched much more often, but are also much more popular and much more difficult to rank on. So how do you know where to start?

Ask colleagues, friends, and family: “What would you search for to find [insert what you do here]?”

Once you build a short list, see which ones come up more frequently – and try to match that with those that are most long-tail. Those are the best place to start, then work your way to more short-tail phrases from there.

Organic SEO is like growing a garden

Often we remind our clients that good organic SEO is like growing a garden. Don’t expect your pages to rank overnight. In our experience, it often takes two to four weeks before seeing significant results with search engines from a well done organic search results page.

Outro

The great thing about SEO is that it’s up to everyone to make themselves and their pages known to search engines so that they can be found. In a way, you’re helping the internet become more organized and more helpful. So get out there and start making some pages on phrases you want to be found on!

About the Author

Aaron Carpenter My name is Aaron Carpenter and I've been building web applications since 2002. Helping shape internet experiences for people to best match what their users are looking for, and creating web applications that become online tools to help manage businesses is what I love to do most.

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