Jun 22, 2007

The Importance of Keywords on Your Blog

Image of Blogger Beta logo courtesy of Blogger and Google This is part of a series of posts on improving the search engine optimization and traffic counts of individual blogs. Previous articles focused on SEO and using imags to generate site traffic.

Before I paid any attention to the importance of keywords in Internet searches, I used to link pages from which I quoted with a simple hypelink like this. Being a historian by training, my first concern was to cite my sources, rather than maximize my site's search engine optimization.

I have since learned the necessity of making my writing conform a bit to the nature of unthinking search engine programs, and I especially keep an eye trained on the Google search algorithm.

Google offers a keyword tool that helps you determine keyword selection that will rank higher in searches. Typing in George W. Bush to the Google keyword tool gives you some obvious variations, such as "President Bush" or "George Bush," but also provides some alternatives that have high rank, such as "9 11 Bush" and "George W Bush war" that you might not have considered. Remember: not everyone thinks just like you.

The code for addding a keyword is simple; just follow this example below:

HTML code for adding a keyword using a href

Even if you prefer, like me, to freestyle your keywords, be aware that your choices in keywords will affect how your site shows up in searches. The use of the keywords Paris Hilton might bring you a short term burst of hits from a blog search, but you will be buried in the search engines behind hundreds - and maybe thousands - of higher-ranking pages. Instead, focus on unique combinations of keywords that might yield some long-term results, such as Paris Hilton's incarceration, Paris Hilton back in jail, or Paris Hilton's medical condition.

Remember, too, that keywords are vital in the title of your posts. As a writer, I prefer something witty and erudite to hook people toward my work, but search engines have no feel for word play. Instead, they give greater weight to pages that contain a higher ratio of keywords to regular text, and you should by now notice that I have used the terms "keyword" or "keywords" over a dozen times in this article. This concept is known as keyword density, and is a part of the algorithms of the major search engines.

While the artist in me cringes at the repetitive overuse of a given word, the realist in me knows that I have to follow a few rules in order to get noticed on the Internet. Now, if you write on your blog simply for you and your eleven friends, keywords are not important, but most of us feel the need to send our thoughts out to the blogosphere with the hope that they will be read by like-mided people, and keywords are an important tool in the blogger's toolbox.

Be forewarned, though, that overuse of keywords can carry with a grievous penalty. Known as keyword stuffing, this is a practice whereby spammers attempt to load their pages with certain keywords in order to fool search engines. While there is no "safe" maximum, I have found that two-to-three uses of a keyword per paragraph has not caused any of my pages to be delisted.

Thus, use keywords to help search engines know your site has useful and relevant content, but avoid overkill. Notice that there are four hyperlinked phrases above containing a variation on the term "keyword," and each of them is unique. A spammer would use the same hyperlinked phrase many times, so I limit myself to one combination per post to avoid the appearance of stuffery.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips, Mike.

historymike said...

No problem. Shared knowledge is a good thing.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, the artist in me cringes, too. Maybe that's why I don't get a landslide of loving hits...

John Kaiser said...

Thanks for the links. I hadn't thought much about the key words I use.

I will try out that key word tool over at Google.

webduck said...

So, did this post get an increased amount of hits because you inserted the keywords? Just curious. Thanks for the tips Mike. :)

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