The Magic Keywords
by Bob McElwain
What will your potential visitor enter into a search engine to
find your site? If you can find these magic keywords, phrases
real people will use, then optimize your pages for them, you will
have taken a key step toward generating hits. If you use the
wrong words, you will waste a good deal of effort and achieve
next to nothing.
A friend of mine has been working with an ex-IRS agent who can be
of significant help to those with tax problems. But he has
decided to search for clients only in the area in which he lives,
the Santa Clarita Valley in Southern California. It is a snap to
get a #1 position on most search engines with such phrases as
Santa Clarita Tax Expert, Santa Clarita Tax Solutions, and so
forth. And he did so. But he is not getting any hits.
The problem is in two parts. Many people who live in the Santa
Clarita Valley do not know that they do. Even those who do tend
to feel they live in Los Angeles. Secondly, many do not know how
to spell Santa Clarita. So his first place position is
meaningless, unless he turns to advertising in locally circulated
newspapers, magazines, and newsletters. This can cost bucks, and
he could have done this without the effort it took to build his
Discovering what potential visitors might enter to find your site
is a challenging problem, one often overlooked in advice regards
position on search engines. One way to begin is to list a few
words you feel will work, go to your favorite search engine,
enter them, and see what comes up. Any phrase that generates a
lot of unconnected listings is not likely a good candidate.
When you find something that ranks your competitors high in the
list, check out the sites. Once the page has fully loaded, take
the option in your browser to view the page source code. Find
the keyword meta statement near the top of the page, and check
those listed. Add as appropriate to your list. Also check the
page content to see which keywords are sprinkled throughout it.
These may be the most important ones. In particular, see how the
keyword you used to get this page is handled. You may find clues
as to how best to use it on your page.
When you think you have a good list, try this useful resource at
At the very bottom of the home
page, click Manage Your Account. On the new page, click Tools
And Tips To Help Manage Your Account. On the new page, click
Search Term Suggestion List. Enter the keywords you are thinking
about. Some of the suggestions made can be added to your list,
particularly those used most often. GoTo.Com provides this
service because they hope you will find additional words to bid
on (pay for high rankings in lists - another topic). But you do
not need to use their service to take advantage of this resource.
At this point you have found and expanded your list to include
keywords others use. So is that it?
No! To stop at this point assumes you have found what potential
visitors will enter when they want a product or service such as
yours. But you do not *know* these are the phrases real people
will use. You do not know you have the magic keywords.
I have a suggestion. It is not a guaranteed solution, but I have
used it successfully. It goes like this.
I write a good description of the product or service I want to
sell, maybe half a page. I describe what it is, what it does,
and how one will benefit from it. I write much as I would when
producing an ad. However, I do all possible to *avoid* the
keywords I feel will be used.
Next I pester everyone I know, asking what they might enter to
find this product. And I give it time; not everyone is as
interested in my problem as I am.
When I have collected replies, I go back and pester these same
people with a list ranked with the most common suggestions up
top, including phrases I found that were not mentioned. I ask
them to pick four or five they feel are best.
I have found some really neat keywords in this way, phrases I
would never have discovered on my own. I hope you can make it
work for you.
I sense this is an aspect of search engine positioning often
overlooked. It is easy for me to pick a phrase related to your
business and get you top position on at least some search
engines. It is meaningless, though, unless people actually enter
Web marketing and consulting since 1993
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