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  Search Engine Optimization - Austin Keyword Research and SEO

Article by Austin search engine optimization company Semantic Advantage, Inc.  Copyright (c) 2011
Search Engine Optimization Strategy – Keyword Research and Search Engine Rankings
Most people performing a Google search find what they’re looking for on Page One, and very few browse beyond page three.  So it’s worth investing in search engine optimization and Austin SEO services to achieve a Page One result for your major keywords.

To rank #1 in the Google search results, a web page needs enough SEO to convince the Google search engine it is better -- more authoritative, more germane, more informative -- for a specific keyword phrase than all the other pages on the Web. If it’s better than all but nine other pages, it will still make Page One. Ditto for Ask, Bing and Yahoo! search engine optimization.

Note: We have an SEO Glossary for those not familiar with search engine optimization nomenclature.
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Keyword selection -- the process of deciding exactly what a web page should be about, and boiling this down to a 2-5 word keyword phrase – is a major component of search engine optimization.   A highly specific 5-word keyword phrase can precisely capture what your page is about; but few people will use this in online searches.  A broader 2- or 3-word keyword phrase would be searched for more frequently; but this may also apply to thousands of other web pages, creating a daunting SEO challenge.  This brings us to one of the fundamental principles of good search engine optimization: Keyword selection is a compromise between keywords with high search volumes and keywords which most precisely describe aspects of your business, products and services.

There are three things you need to know to do effective keyword selection and related organic search optimization:
  1. Keyword volume – the number of times per month a specific keyword phrase is entered into Google, Yahoo! or Bing.  You can have the best search engine optimization in the world, but if no one ever enters your keyword into a search engine, you’re not going to get much traffic.  At the same time, if you select high volume keywords, you’re going to have a lot of competition from organizations that have applied SEO resources toward those popular keywords.
  2. Competitor strength – the search engine optimization-enhancing attributes of competitors’ pages that embody that keyword.  Of course, the SEO strength of competitors’ pages is a moving target; you should expect them to step up their search optimization in response to your SEO efforts.
  3. Search engine ranking factors – the attributes of a page that search engines evaluate to determine the page’s ranking.  These on-page and off-page SEO methods constitute your search engine optimization ‘toolbox’.   Using keyword research tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, WordTracker or Keyword Discovery, you can estimate the number of monthly search volume for candidate keywords.  These search engine optimization tools will also suggest closely related keywords that might be more effective (or they can be used on the same page as synonyms or contextually related terms).

Keyword Research and Competitive Search Engine Optimization

Competitor strength can be determined by examining the pages listed on Page One of the search results for your candidate keyword, noting what keyword(s) they are using and where the keywords are used.  Keywords embedded in the URL, page title (meta tag), page description (meta tag), navigation menu and major headers are most beneficial to search engine optimization.  The keyword should also appear in the body of the page – several times – along with synonyms and related terms.

We also need to analyze competitors’ pages for other search engine optimization ranking factors.  The most important factor is the number and quality of backlinks – links from other websites to that page.  If your competitor’s page has more backlinks from higher PageRank pages and websites, your page is going to have a tough time beating it in the search results.

Organic Search Engine Optimization and Keyword SEO
One of the most frustrating aspects of search engine optimization is the realization that search engines do not understand web pages in any meaningful way -- they just count and grade the words and links, apply a mathematical formula to determine which keywords apply, and then score each page for those keywords.  It’s remarkable that the search engines do as well as they do in presenting relevant search results – particularly with all the aggressive SEO out there.   We don’t know the details of the search engine algorithms – and these change periodically in response to unexpected results, overzealous search engine optimization efforts or outright black hat SEO.  But there are several widely accepted heuristic search optimization guidelines for keyword use:
  • Keywords embedded in the page URL, Page Title (meta tag) and Page Description (meta tag) enhance search engine optimization enormously.
  • Keywords embedded in anchor text (the text in a link to or from your page) are extremely valuable for SEO.  Ideally in-link anchor text should contain your page’s keyword (or a variant or synonym).
  • Google claims not to use the Keywords meta tag for ranking purposes; but other search engines may use this, so putting the page’s keyword there (with variants and synonyms) can enhance search engine optimization.
  • Major headers (H1, H2) should also contain the page’s keyword, variants or synonyms.
  • Keywords in large type sizes, bold/strong, italicized and/or underlined are given extra weight.
  • The page’s keyword should also occur several times in the page body, along with synonyms and other related terms.  But too many occurrences of a keyword on a page (called ‘keyword stuffing’) is a negative SEO factor and is penalized by the search engines.
  • Keyword placement near the top of the page is more effective for SEO than locations near the bottom of the page.

Keyword Tools for Search Engine Optimization -- Austin, Texas SEO Firm Semantic Advantage
There is a broad variety of keyword research and evaluation tools available for search optimization.  Each of the major online advertising platforms (Google, Bing, Yahoo!) has a free keyword tool; and the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is the most capable and popular of these.  Professional SEO practitioners generally use one of the more feature-rich 3rd party paid keyword research services.  The most popular keyword research tools are

     WordTracker
  • Particularly good for discovering long tail keywords
  • Will generate up to 2000 keywords per search
  • Provides good assessment of competition for keywords
  • Very easy to use  

     Keyword Discovery (Trellian)
  • Gives results for multiple search engines
  • Provides common spelling errors and plurals
  • Offers statistics on keyword density
  • Identifies demographic dependencies for geo-targeting

The ‘free’ keyword tools are not really free -- your business is paying for SEO time or services.  In our experience WordTracker and Keyword Discovery save enough time to make their modest fees worthwhile.

Semantic Advantage: Austin Search Engine Optimization and SEO Services
For more information on SEO strategies and keyword research or other search engine optimization services, browse our website or contact Semantic Advantage.



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