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Home / Promotion / SEO Knowledge Base

SEO Knowledge Base

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What are search engine keywords and key phrases?
How do you decide which are the best target phrases to go after?

Optimising Web Pages

What are meta tags?
Do alt tags help with search engine rankings?

Search Engine Keyword Analysis

This page explains the steps we go through when performing an analysis of keywords and key phrases prior to optimising a web site for better search engine rankings. It offers some real examples of reports and how the results are then used. If you have a question go to our enquiry form and submit the query or call us or email

Step One - Understand The Site's Targets

Before we can start researching the words we need to understand who the client's site is aimed at and what its objectives are. This can be very simple or very complex depending on the content. Sometimes we can learn enough of the site just by looking at it ourselves but often we will need some dialogue with the client to define our targets. If a site is offering cheap rooms in Amsterdam then we know we are looking at keywords including "hotel", "accommodation", "breaks", "holidays", "Amsterdam", "Holland", etc, we just need to rank them in order of importance. If on the other hand a site is offering "cranial osteopathy" we have to understand who are the potential users of such a specialised service and derive search terms that might be used to capture those interested in such a specialism.

Step Two - Establish A Pecking Order

Step one should result in a list of potential keywords numbering as few as 2 or 3 and no more than 10 or so. As the research develops some may fall out and others fall in. In the case of our fireplace vendor the only keywords were "fire", "place" and "fireplace". The research to follow was to show the relative importance of "fireplace", "fire place" and "fire-place" and from there which other words were used most frequently with these in key phrases, such as "antique fireplaces", "marble fireplaces", etc. To establish this we use a very useful tool called WordTracker.

WordTracker is a database made up of sample search expressions used on real search engines. A number of the leading meta search engines throw one in so many of the queries they receive into a database and that ends up as the WordTracker database. It comprises over 300 million searches made over the preceding 60 day period, with a proportion of new phrases being continually added and new ones falling off the end. So if we want to know which are the most commonly used phrases used to search we can interrogate WordTracker to gain some insight into the public's habits.

If you want to know more about WordTracker and how it works or even to subscribe to it (the cost is pretty reasonable by the way) then click on the link below:


Also click here to see raw data from a Wordtracker report on "fireplaces", "fire-places" and "fire places".

Step Three - Analyse The Results

Once we have some meaningful results from Wordtracker we can start analysis of the keywords. Click here for a simple example of a spreadsheet containing results for a security products company. Note how few phrases and keywords make up 80% of the searches and also note the frequent occurrences of mis-spellings of "burglar". These provide us with target phrases with reasonable levels of traffic for which, in all likelihood, there will be NO competition.

We tend to apply the 80/20 rule here and look for the small percentage of phrases that make up 80% of the traffic. Sometimes however, when competition is tight, we also look for less important phrases that have no competition but still carry a desirable level of traffic. A great example of this was a car dealer specialising in Saab and Volvo models whose site was the only one found by people making the common mistake of typing "Vovlo" instead of "Volvo". Indeed he has made a fortune out of selling Vovlo cars!

Step Four - Profit From The Results

The object of the exercise is to get more relevant visitors to our web sites, to sell more to them and bring that day when we retire to the beach that much closer. Knowing what targets to aim at is a great help but achieves nothing unless we do something with the knowledge.

It is not the purpose of the this section of the site to go into search engine positioning issues in depth because that is done elsewhere. Nonetheless here are the areas where keywords can help meet our aspirations for improving the web site's ranking.

Meta tags: there was a time when meta tags had great importance to search engine positions. Because so many people became good at manipulating them they have lost much of their importance. However they do still matter to a degree and as search engine optimisation is, to us at least, a labour of meticulous attention to detail, we believe that it can only help to have properly configured meta tags, alt tags and other hidden content on the web site. Knowing the most important words to include helps make the most of this aspect of the job.

Doorway pages: again so-called doorway pages have fallen somewhat into disrepute. These are pages specifically designed to feature well in a given search engine for a single key phrase, e.g. a page optimised solely for the phrase "marble fireplaces" in AltaVista only. Again these have been done to death by amateurs churning out hundreds of virtually identical pages and swamping search engines with them. But they can be produced responsibly and effectively but should be reserved only for the very top phrases.

Pay-per-click: pay-per-click search engines let you bid for position in the rankings and charge you for the number of people who click through to your site. Keyword analysis is absolutely crucial here in finding bargains. I will only give a fictitious example of what I mean here as what I know in this field is very valuable. I have a web site selling "apple juice" (it doesn't but lets imagine!). To have the #1 slot on Yahoo! costs $3 per click. To be #1 for "apple drinks" is only 50 cents and "appel juice" only 5 cents. Now for what I make on selling apple juice I would go bust very fast at $3 per click. Far fewer people look for "appel juice" but I get them all for just 5 cents per visit!

Domain Names: keyword analysis can even help pick the right domain name for a new web site. Keywords in the domain name can help with some search resources so you might as well use that where you can and have the most important words in there.

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