Search Engines and Keywords: Going from Hide to Seek

If you want your website to be found – and who doesn’t? – get in the habit of using key words effectively. Key words are the terms and phrases that people type into search boxes. When the key words that people type match key words woven throughout the content of your website, the search engines can guide them to you.

Let’s look at an example of how it works, along with some suggestions for boosting your “findability.”

Take attorneys. A Google search just turned up 201 million–Yikes!–hits for attorney. Narrowing it down to family law attorney generated 10.1 million. Family law attorney San Francisco pares the possibilities to a paltry 5 million. Better, but still too much.

If you were an attorney, you would be wise to find a way to the top of a search pile. But even 5 million is a big pile. What can you do?

Choose key words that are specific to your business. The more relevant the better. “Attorney” is clearly too general for winning qualified leads.

But don’t be too specific. If you sprinkle “left-handed family attorney” liberally throughout your web copy, the search engines will likely rank your site high each time someone searches that term. But it may be a while before anyone actually does such a search.

A variety of relevant key words can make you more findable. For instance, adding “Geary Street” and “San Francisco” to search for “family law attorney” reduces results to 231.

Use search engine to help you determine relevance and volume. Once you’ve made a preliminary selection of key words, you can get a very good idea of relevance and volume just by searching them on the likes of Google, Yahoo and Bing. You might also research possible key words on Google’s free AdWords service.

Key words (and phrases) are your friends. Like any friendship, let it grow and you’ll see increased web traffic–and more qualified prospects. In the next post, I’ll talk about where to place key words to increase your odds of being found.

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