Keywords: How to Choose Them and Use Them

Keywords are words that people enter into a search engine, like Google, when they're looking for something. For example, the keywords 'personalized shirts' would bring me results listing web pages related to personalized shirts. Learn more about Search Engines.

Search engines look for keywords on your website. If you use the keywords that people will use to find businesses like yours throughout your content, your website will be seen as more important to the searcher and be ranked higher in results for your chosen keywords. High ranking on search engines can mean more visitors, which may lead to more sales.

The keywords 'personalized shirts' were used on Google to find this website. Part of the reason this site was ranked highly is because these keywords were used throughout the content.

The keywords 'personalized shirts' were used on Google to find this website. Part of the reason this site was ranked highly is because these keywords were used throughout the content.

How to Choose Your Keywords

Choosing keywords is an important part of developing your website. Pick words that people are likely to use when looking for your type of business. If you pick words that people don't naturally associate with your business, it won't matter how well you use them in your content, as no one will think to use them in a search engine.

Tips for coming up with targeted keywords and phrases:

  • Use specific phrases, not just single words
  • Think like a customer
  • Check out your competitors
  • Look at your existing web content
  • Use keyword suggestion tools
  • Consider using your location

Use Specific Phrases, Not Just Single Words

If you sell luxury, imported race cars, you probably don't just tell people you sell cars. Keywords work the same way. If you make them more detailed, the people that are really looking for your type of products or services are going to find you.

Using more specific phrases may result in:

Higher Search Engine Ranking.  The more specific your keywords, the less competition there is for them. This makes it easier to get a higher rank in search engine results, bringing more visitors to your site.

The keyword 'cars' results in over 475,000,000 results!

The keywords '2 door honda hatchback' produces 932,000 results. Still a lot, but fewer to compete with than just 'cars'!


Higher Conversion Rate.  If your keywords are specific, you're more likely to get visitors that are looking for your products/services. This means they'll be more likely to buy from you.


Think Like A Customer

These are the people you are trying to connect with, so consider what words they would probably type into a search engine to find a business like yours. This isn't always as easy as it sounds.

Take the time to walk through the steps a potential customer would take:

  1. Consider the product/service you'd be looking for
  2. Go to a search engine like Google or Yahoo!
  3. Enter search words that would likely turn up those products/services
  4. Do it again and again, with different words and phrases

Compare the search results to your products/services. Are they similar? If so, you're probably heading in the right direction.

If you already have customers, you can also ask them what keywords they would use or used to find your products/services.

Check Out Your Competitors

Your competitors may have some great keywords that would also work for you. You can find out by looking at the Meta tags in their website's HTML code. Visit their website and right click. Then click on 'View Page Source'. You'll find the Meta tags at the top of the HTML. Learn more about Meta tags.

Right-click and select 'View Page Source'

Get ideas from the competitions' keywords meta tag


WARNING! Don't copy your competitor's keywords exactly, as there may be legal issues.

Look At Your Existing Web Content

If you already have web content written, you can look through it and see what words have been used a lot. These words may work well as keywords, as they're obviously important when talking about your business.

iWEBTOOL offers a keyword density tool that can automatically scan through your web pages and tell you how often words have been used.

The website we checked has used the word 'personalized' 10 times


Use Keyword Suggestion Tools

Google and Yahoo! both provide keyword tools that will help you choose ones for your website. They both indicate how often keywords are searched and provide a list of other relevant keywords.

Yahoo! Search Marketing Keyword Selector Tool

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Also tells you how competitive words are among website owners or advertisers.

The iWEBTOOL website offers several free tools to help you with your own site, including a Keyword suggestion tool that offers suggestions based on keywords you enter.

Consider Using Your Location

If your business's location makes a difference to your customers, include it in your keywords. Including your location in your keywords will reduce competition and increase your chances of being ranked on search engine results. It will also increase your chances of being found by the right customers.

For example, a dog owner in Seattle searches for 'dog grooming' on Google and finds all the top results are groomers in other states. She'll then probably change her search to 'dog grooming Seattle'. If you've included Seattle in your keywords, you've got a much better chance of being ranked and found.

On the other hand, if you have an e-business and don't have a bricks-and-mortar store, it may not matter whether you include your location in your keywords.

How to Use Your Keywords

Now that you've chosen keywords, you have to use them effectively so that search engines will find them and rank you accordingly.

Tips for using your keywords on your website:

  • Use keywords and phrases in the body text
  • Include keywords in headings, subheadings, and links
  • Name images
  • Put keywords in Meta tags

Use Your Keywords and Phrases in Body Text

Search engines look in your text to find keywords. Make sure that each page contains at least 250 words and pick at least 2 keyword phrases to use throughout. Your keywords should account for about 1-2% of your written content.

Clearly 'dog grooming' is a keyword phrase


WARNING! Don't overuse your keywords and try to jam them into awkward sentences.  Also, don't repeat them on the page in a color that visitors can't see in an attempt to trick search engines. Both these practices will be discovered and deemed spam by search engines. This results in your website being banned from the search engine.

Learn How to Write for the Internet.

Include Keywords in Headings, Subheadings, and Links

Using your keywords in headings, subheadings, and links will let search engines know that you've places special emphasis on these words. This will help the search engine to recognize that these emphasized words are more relevant to the search and will work to rank your website higher.


Name Images

Search engines look at your image names as well. So using your keywords to name your images is another legitimate way to increase your keyword density, or the number of keywords on your page.

For example, you could label your image 'grooming Fido' instead of 'image008'.


Put Keywords in Meta Tags

Search engines look at the Meta tags within your HTML code for keywords as well. Make sure you've used them in your Keyword, Title, and Description Meta tags. Learn more about Meta tags.

TIP! Most website builders make it easy for you to insert keywords in your Meta tags, without you having to know HTML.

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Senior Writer
Rodney Scott
Senior Writer
Senior Writer
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