Posts Tagged ‘website law firm design’

How Does the Page Fold Affect Your Website?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

While you may be aware of the page fold theory of a print newspaper, there is also a “virtual” page fold which exists on all websites which consists of the initially viewable area, or the part of your site which is viewable without the necessity of further action. Studies show that web users spend over ¾ of their time perusing information above the page fold, meaning that while they may scroll down, only twenty-something percent of the average reader’s attention travels below the fold. In the Web’s infancy, users often neglected to scroll down at all, looking only at the information which was immediately visible.

Critical Information Must Be Readily Apparent

For this reason, websites soon learned that if their most critical information was not visible immediately, users likely would not see it at all. By the late 1990’s, however, users were becoming more comfortable with the scrolling. Unfortunately, today’s web users have not progressed much beyond that initial comfort zone, and usability findings of the information below the fold remains fairly steady at 20-22%. So, while some users will scroll down your legal pages, remember that the average web user has a very limited attention span due to the busy-ness of day-to-day life.

Web users want to find the information they need quickly and efficiently, and don’t want to read any more words than they actually have to. This means that the space above the fold is the most valuable real estate on your website. That being said, if you have an extremely well-written, high-quality article full of information your readers will find incredibly helpful, it will likely still be better to present it as one scrolling article than to spread it across multiple pages. Even assuming your users will scroll due to the fact they find your article particularly compelling, you will still want to prioritize and ensure the truly important items appear above the fold.

Google’s Take on Information Located Above the Fold

January of this year saw a new Google algorithm which actually addressed above-the-fold user experiences. The basic theory of this algorithm states that if the information above the fold is so “busy” or crammed with information that visitors would have a hard time getting to the actual content the search results referred heads will roll. When users are unhappy about their web experience on a particular website, Google also becomes unhappy in an algorithmic kind of way and will certainly make their wrath known.

Further, if you have top-loaded your website with ads, you risk Google penalties. Any site which offers content buried under a pile of ads will be affected by the algorithm. Users want to see highly targeted content which effectively answers their most pressing question of the day immediately when they click onto a website and will resist scrolling down to find what they need.  Google wants to see your most important text and links early on so it can quickly confirm what your page is all about. To accomplish this, a great paragraph early in the page design can serve as an effective introduction to your site and your firm.

Above-the-Fold Elements Which are Crucial to Your Success

To ensure your potential clients remain firmly on your legal website, the information above the fold must be intriguing, interesting and visually appealing. A key technique for good user interface in above-the-fold material includes an accurate visual representation off your brand and your specific services—in a nutshell. Don’t forget to include a clear call to action which directs your user to the next stop; this will keep your user focused on the initial task at hand.

Top Ways to Get More People to Read Your Website Articles

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Great copy is, arguably, the primary way for your website to move straight up the ranks and land in the spot of honor. How do you produce the type of article which everyone wants to read, while filling it with the best search engine optimization? Such a balance can be difficult, but not impossible, and the rewards are well worth the effort. Once you’ve designed your website for detail and visual appeal as well as ease of use, the next critical step is filling it with highly targeted, extremely interesting, superior quality copy on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, too many websites have a great design, but once a visitor begins reading, their interest goes out the window.

The Goal of Your Website Articles
The copy on your page must grab your readers and pull them, then once you’ve gained their undivided attention your article must inform, entertain, educate, offer a solution to a specific problem, and convince your visitor to purchase your product or service. Pretty tall order, right? Well, take a deep breath and get ready to learn how to deliver consistently high-quality articles to your readers time and time again.

Get to Know Your Audience
You should know your audience the same way you know your best friend, meaning you must be aware of their likes and dislikes, must know what they want when they come to your site and must know the best delivery system to capture their attention. Who is your target audience? What does that audience typically read, and what do you have to offer them that nobody else can do quite as well?

You want to make your visitors feel good in the same way you would want to make your best friend feel good. Care about your readers, and take the time necessary to present crisp, interesting articles which simply flow from one sentence to another. Remember—although you want to entice your readers to take advantage of what your website is offering you don’t want to bombard them with high-pressure sales.

Make Your Website Usable
If you’ve done your research you are well aware that people read web pages in an entirely different manner than they read a book. We tend to scan web pages, hitting the highlights and looking at the paragraph headers to determine whether or not we want to continue reading. Highlighted words are a good way to draw the eye, but avoid overuse. Hypertext links are one form of highlighting, while changing typeface and color are others.

Your sub-headings should be meaningful, and give your reader a good idea what they have to look forward to. Bulleted lists are a good way to get your reader’s attention, and one writing style you might try is the inverted pyramid style in which you start your article with the conclusion. Keep your articles about half the length of the normal written page in order to hold their attention until the very end.

Know Why You Write
This may seem pretty obvious, but many times articles are written simply to throw out some necessary keywords or stay with the goal of three articles per week, or something similar. If you write passionately about a subject you feel strongly about, it will shine through in your finished article. Give your readers the details, and show them why those details matter. If you really don’t care about your subject, it will shine through, and if you are bored your readers will be bored as well. Write honestly, and be willing to bare your soul when it matters.

It’s all in the Details
When you begin writing, let your beginning paragraph concisely declare what your piece is about, then organize what follows through the use of an outline. Your high school English teacher taught you about outlines for a reason—they work! Keep your reader relaxed as you expand on your subject, and explain your arguments in relatively short paragraphs. Offer concrete examples and personal experiences to back up each of your points.

People love to hear how others faced a problem and solved it successfully. Highlight the advantages of your product or services, but don’t overdo it. Give your readers plenty of resource information by telling them where they can get more information on the subject you are talking about. Finally, step away from your article for a bit, then come back, re-read, and proof one more time. Mistakes can make you look unprofessional, and alienate your readers.

Promoting Your Site through Article Marketing

Monday, March 12th, 2012

While article marketing is not particularly complex, it does require two things—patience and persistence. The impact of a single article may never be particularly huge—although there are exceptions to this rule—therefore it’s the sheer quantity of quality articles you get out there along with the backlinks you receive back to your site. It’s important to look at the overall process of writing articles on a regular basis as a major campaign to slowly but surely bring in huge amounts of web traffic. Article marketing is an SEO strategy which has been around for years, but has remained a solid, trusted manner to drive traffic to your site and generate highly relevant one way links.

What Makes Up a Great Article?

Every article you write must be highly keyword-focused as well as being highly readable. If your reader is not convinced they should read through the article to the end, they will be unlikely to reach the resource box with your link. Before you begin writing, have a clearly defined goal for what you intend to accomplish. Think seriously about the image and brand you are building, and develop a message which revolves around your stated goals.

Make a comprehensive outline of your proposed article, making sure there is a clearly delineated beginning, middle and end. When you are outlining your article, think about what you want to leave your reader with, as well as the idea of leaving them anxious to read more or your articles, ensuring they will follow your link back to your site. Generally speaking, choose one particular keyword to focus on in each article, and use this keyword or keyword phrase in your article’s title, in the first paragraph once or twice and in the link text in your resource box.

What Does Article Marketing Accomplish?

When you are engaging in article marketing you are promoting yourself as a respected expert who can provide serious and innovative solutions and insights for problems which real people experience and need help with. When those same articles are also highly keyword focused your site’s link popularity can literally soar. When you use article marketing to generate revenue and increase traffic, more and more people will see your articles leading more clicks to your site.

Developing Contextual Links within Your Article

Embedded links within the articles you have targeted for article marketing gives them much more cache’ with the search engines while also establishing a good fan base for your site and your articles. In fact, you can create a huge group of people who adore your writing simply by promoting those articles which have many resources to offer to the reader. People who truly love your writing will begin to post your link on social media and bookmarking sites. Contextual links are, literally, links from your content. You gain back links by using targeted keywords, related hyperlinks or anchor text. Contextual linking requires high quality links and high quality content.

Some tips to help you develop good contextual links include taking care to check the page rank of any blog or site prior to accepting a link, and being cautious on the specific keyword phrases you choose. Getting a link from a top ranked page can greatly help your site, and developing strong contextual link building strategies through bookmarking and social media sites is also beneficial.

Article marketing can do more for your website than virtually any other single SEO technique, so it’s important to learn the specific techniques and incorporate them into your overall plan.

Why the Ethical Use of SEO is Important

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

SEO is a technique which is widely used to make your legal website or blog more visible in an environment (the Internet) where there are already plenty of websites with the exact same type of law firm or legal specialty as your own. Most research will tell you that if you want to get the desired traffic to your legal website or blog, you need to be within the top 10 in the search engines. As you probably already know, however, competition to be in that top 10 is fierce, and staying there once you’ve made it is just as difficult.

SEO crosses the barriers between search engines, as they all operate by the SEO Bible, and allow your business to attract more of the “perfect” client, thus increasing your offline business. If your law firm has spent thousands—or more—creating the highest quality, most creative legal website around, but have left it running in an un-optimized manner, then you are simply spinning your wheels on the Internet. In older advertising terms it is something like have the most fabulous sign made up for your firm, then sticking it in the storeroom, where obviously your targeted clients will never see it.

While SEO is imperative, ethical SEO is critical for natural or organic search engine rankings. Major search engines such as Google are highly developed and able to easily understand the credibility of SEO techniques. By the same token, they can quickly identify unethical search engine techniques, with a potential consequence of blacklisting your website or even banning it. While “black hat” techniques can boost your search engine rankings quickly, in the long run it is a bad choice. In case you are unclear about what constitutes “black hat” techniques, here are some of the most common:

  • Keyword stuffing involves the repetitive use of the same keyword phrase over and over in your meta tags, comment tags, alt tags or the actual copy on your website. Repeat your targeted keywords no more than six or seven times within each 200 words.
  • Inserting hidden text or links that are readable by search engines but cannot be seen by your human visitors is not good use of SEO. All search engines consider these hidden text and links to be spam and will penalize the page, or possibly the entire site.
  • Cloaking involves a software program to direct search spiders to a group of pages which are created to “trick” the spider and re-direct the user—while cloaking can have some proper uses, by and large it is used to deceive search engines, and is therefore considered spam.
  • Creating mirror sites or duplicate content and placing them on multiple servers with different domain names, and search engines will not only suppress duplicate content but will also count them as a violation of the search engine’s spam guidelines.
  • Link farming refers to putting hundreds of links on one page to sites which are essentially unrelated to your site content and can contain poor quality content that is useless to your potential clients. Reciprocal links can associate you with “poor neighborhoods,” so you should avoid link farming at all cost.
  • Irrelevant link exchange is often considered unethical SEO, and no matter how tactfully or carefully you hide them, hiding repetitive keywords is also considered unethical.

These types of spam can cause your firm to lose your rankings and be booted off the search engine index; while search engines have varying rules for spam detection, the end result will be the same, and it can be extremely difficult for your firm to recover from a ban, which is why ethical SEO is so critical.  Used correctly on your legal website or blog, proper search engine optimization techniques will almost certainly get you ranked higher in the search engines, and achieved legitimately, organic links can last indefinitely. Acquire your search engine rankings fairly, and maintain them ethically for far-reaching positive results.

Is There a Code of Ethics in the SEO World?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Just as most all professions are guided by a set of rules, the SEO world also has certain rules and code of conduct which should be followed by all those engaged in the business of SEO, and even those of us who undertake SEO practices for our personal websites should certainly be aware of the rules we should make every effort to follow. Most of us know the difference between right and wrong, and would not consider engaging in a practice which is obviously dishonest, however some of the SEO rules are ones you might not have fully considered. Additionally, because SEO changes and grows nearly daily, it is hard to maintain a “universal” SEO code of conduct, but following these general rules will ensure you never cross the ethical line.

The Most Basic Code

Slander is slander, whether in real life on online, and as such you should always scrupulously avoid it. Slander is providing any type of false information which would defame another person. Your goal is to make your own site, and your own brand look good to the public and to Google, however success is not achieved by going out of your way to make your competition look bad, no matter how tempting that might be.

Follow the rules as set out by Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines—whether you agree with them or not, attempting to find a way around these rules will ultimately cause your site and your rankings to suffer. If you work for others, performing SEO for their business, remember they are trusting you with their personal information, and all privacy policies you would use in the traditional sense are applicable online as well.

Never, ever, sacrifice private or personal information no matter how valuable it could potentially be. If you use someone else’s work, give them credit, never claim it as your own. This is plagiarism, and is illegal. Copying and pasting may seem harmless, but it absolutely is not. Finally, if it’s against the law in your everyday world, it is against the law online. Take care with copyrighted names or trademarks so others don’t mistakenly believe you are associated with a particular company that in reality you are not.

More Specific Rules of SEO

You should take care to never employ so-called “black hat” techniques which include using mirror pages or sites, link farms, hidden texts, hidden links which promote websites, doorway pages or keywords written in minute text. By the same token, never take credit for another’s creativity in any way, shape or form, and never use unauthorized software or tools for web promotion.  Websites which are made for AdSense, but consist of scraped content are completely unethical, as is deliberately misspelling well-known websites. If you are engaging in keyword stuffing and loading pages with irrelevant words in an attempt to boost your search engine rankings, you may get short term results, but they absolutely will not be lasting ones, plus you could cause your site to be banned from the Internet altogether. Essentially any method which tries to trick the search engines violates the SEO code of conduct

SEO tactics which are both ethical and provide long-term, long-lasting positive results include optimizing your existing web pages and HTML code, engaging in organic link building to get high quality inbound links, and going out of your way to build a website which offers great value to users.  Ethical practices make everyone involved in the entire Internet process a winner, so make sure you always adhere to these rules.

How Users Really Read Your Site

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

You’ve probably heard about how users read on the web—they skim, they scan, they notice headlines, etc. In truth, what users do on the web cannot really even be considered reading, since only 16 percent of web users actually read content word-for-word. The vast majority of web readers pick out individual words and sentences, rarely reading even an entire paragraph.

What is “Scannable Text?”

This is why “scannable text” has become one of the latest buzzwords surrounding search engine optimization and rules about the best way to write compelling, readable copy. This type of text is basically comprised of highlighted keywords, attention-grabbing headlines, sub-headlines which are rich in meaning, bulleted or numbered lists, one idea per paragraph, and at least half the word count of conventional writing.

How Much Do Readers Read?

The average web page reader reads a maximum of 28% of the actual words on your page, probably even less.  The possible flaw in this equation comes from the fact that in order to come up with this particular statistic, the users in the studies tended to all possess above-average intelligence, and some might say that the typical reader of above-average intelligence might tend to scan most of what they read, whether it’s online or a book in their hands. Interestingly, the studies which found how much people scan on the web also determined that the “back” button is the third most-used feature on the web, and that most users consider it a lifeline which rescues them from content that turns out to be neither helpful nor interesting to them.

Nearly 20% of all page views last less than 4 seconds, meaning the user bounced out almost immediately after a quick scan of the page. Users tended to spend more time on pages with more information, meaning the website owner must not only grab the reader’s attention almost immediately, but must also provide the highest quality, most interesting information around in order to hold the reader’s attention.

Keep Your Intro Short and Sweet

Because much of the introductory text on web pages tends to be extremely long, users simply skip it. If you want your readers to actually read your intro, keep it short, informative, and make sure it increases the overall usability of your site by telling your reader about the purpose of the rest of your content. Many users will simply skip the introductory paragraph, jumping immediately to any actionable content on the page. This type of content could consist of the specific features of your products, bulleted lists, a short explanation of your business services, or hypertext links. Forget rolling out the welcome mat, and simply get to the heart of the matter, and you will stand a better chance of hanging on to your reader.

Use the Same Technique with Your Content

Your content must take note of the same issues as your intro. Once you’ve written your content, go back and slash mercilessly, leaving only the very most pertinent, interesting, exciting information behind. As noted, web articles should be approximately half as long as a comparable hard copy if you want your readers to read to the end, so learn to edit. Pepper your article with lots of subheads, which break up blocks of copy and allow those who are scanning to get the idea simply by looking at the subheads. Bullets and numbered lists immediately draw your reader’s attention, especially those who like reading lists. Use your white space judiciously rather than trying to fill every single space on your page with text. White space gives the eyes a break, making the overall article much more scannable. Complex sentences are not web-friendly, neither are long paragraphs. Finally, if you want to make your most important words stand out, use different colored text, bold or italics–but use them judiciously. Use photographs to show your reader exactly what you are talking about, and make sure you use an easy-on-the-eyes font. It’s important to understand how your web readers operate in order to reach them and keep them reading.

How Facebook Can Drive Traffic to Your Website

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Social media is the darling of traffic-generation for websites, and Facebook is the darling of social media, so if you haven’t made the leap, now is the time! Twitter has over two hundred million users, and Facebook over 600 million, so the potential reach is truly staggering, and any business owner or webmaster would be crazy not to take advantage of the huge social media push. Although relevant, inspirational content is obviously one of your top priorities, as are getting the necessary links to your site, social media marketing adds a dimension to your SEO push that you really can’t get anywhere else. Although a well-optimized page is essential for steady traffic, if you want to start getting blog comments and conversions from your readers, social media is the key, and Facebook is simply the best. There are, however, certain “rules” which can make your foray into Facebook much more successful.

Facebook—Personal, Business or Both?

While most people are at least somewhat familiar with using Facebook for their personal use, using it for business purposes is less typical. The first thing to do when jumping into the business Facebook is to let the world know you are a FB user. Send out messages on other social media sites, and add your Facebook profile links anywhere it’s allowed. Once you begin getting more bloggers added to your list, you will need to create filters which allow you to separate your family and friends from your business, blogging and network contacts. In other words, your Aunt Millie may be much less interested in your blog and your website than your network of business associates are.

Engage With Your Followers

Once you have your FB account set up to your satisfaction, you will start engaging with your followers by responding to status updates with comments that are insightful or helpful, and sharing content both from your own site as well as from high quality articles you’ve read during the day. Engaging with your followers will slowly but surely bring traffic to your website. You can also create a Facebook group for your particular niche, however don’t send out a blanket invitation to join your group without first sending them a private message, explaining about the group and asking if they would like to join. You actually have to spend some time on Facebook—and be social—in order to bring the traffic you want and need to your site.

Social Groups, Welcome Page, Profile Page

Create a welcome page for your site; if you don’t have the necessary design skills to create your own fabulous welcome page, you can look for a FB theme page for your welcome. On your profile page you can provide links to your websites or to articles you have written, or you can even write more information about your business to enable your visitors to get a clear idea of the services and products you provide. Creating a social group on Facebook is a really good marketing tactic which you should go out of your way to take advantage of.

Social groups allow you to post links, business updates and events so your readers are always updated on what your business is doing. Create a specific Facebook page for your website which is very similar to your own profile page, allowing you to post links, information and get conversions for your business. Work on increasing your Friends list on your business FB page—although the limit is 5000, how great would it be to get 5000 regular readers who are interested in your website and blog, and pass along their interest to their own friends and family?

Evolving Your Outgoing Link Strategy

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

In the SEO “war” establishing and evolving an effective outgoing link strategy is yet another critical weapon. However, the structure and content of each and every one of those outgoing links is critical to your eventual success in the battle. Descriptive links which are rich in critical keyword are essential, while you should avoid at all costs the “click here” strategy. As a replacement for a “click here” link, substitute a very descriptive link with primary keywords, and you will be working toward optimization each time a reader clicks.

Why Outbound Links Matter

Outbound links count with your visitors as well as human editors of directories since providing meaningful links to other quality sites actually makes your own site all the more credible. Readers always want to know just what’s in it for them, so when you provide links to offer advice, information and quality content, you are more likely to be looked on kindly by your visitors. We all want solutions to our problems, or even just better surfing experiences, so high-quality outbound links can provide just that. A note of caution however—you need to be super-aware of the words “other quality sites,” when constructing outbound links. Nothing can destroy your credibility and loyal fan base any quicker than linking to inferior websites. When you put a link into your copy, you are essentially giving your stamp of approval to the site and telling your readers that it is well worth their while to take the time to click and read.

Location, Location, Location

Search engines tend to pay special attention to outgoing links which are located within the paragraph headings, with a few key links scattered throughout the paragraph text. There is a fine line, however between the judicious use of links throughout your content and links randomly stuffed into your page which will likely hurt your search engine ranking. Pages which are overfull of external links can be seen as an attempt at deception, leading Google—and others—to discount your pages entirely. If you have a larger number of outbound links than is ideal, then do your best to balance those with an equal number of internal links.

Stay in Your Neighborhood

When you are considering the links you want to send your readers to, try your best to ensure they are first, non-competing and second, high traffic. You always want to remain within your own specific niche. Specifically, keep your links theme-related to your own website or blog site. Don’t forget to link out to your other domains which cover related topics, and to ensure you get maximum bang for your buck, include your specific keywords incorporated into outbound and inbound links.

Don’t Hang Out With the Wrong Crowd

As stated, “bad” links can seriously hurt you. Just like mom always told you, you are judged by the company you keep, and if readers are consistently given spammy links, or even links which are not helpful or uninteresting, they will begin to distrust you and your site. Never, ever, obtain links from link farms and avoid marketing gimmicks which proclaim they will provide millions of links to your site for the low, low price of….

Link Maintenance

While link maintenance is painstaking and time consuming, it is also incredibly important. The success of your website depends on all your links being valid and in perfect working order. Digging through your archives to check the links within your post can seem like just too much, however take a look at the link-checking tools which can help automate the process.

Making the effort to create a solid outgoing link strategy can pay off big time in search engine optimization, so work at it and perfect your process!

Creating a Search Engine Marketing Plan for Your Site

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The goal of your search engine marketing plan should be to attract your target audience, and persuade them to take a specific action on your site. Of course you want to attract visitors who have a specific interest in your product or services. Suppose you sell wind chimes—you would not want visitors on your site who were looking for wind generators or windmills, therefore your marketing plan must be very specific. You will have two distinct parts to your search engine marketing plan—the first is to attract a targeted group of visitors, then to convert them.

We all use search engines to find what we need, and if the keywords and key phrases you use for your website are specific enough to allow users to target exactly what they want then you are vastly ahead of the game. If your website closely matches your visitor’s search expectations, they may soon become your next customer. In order to create the most successful search engine marketing plans you must ask yourself the following questions—then develop a solid answer.

  • What is Your Purpose? When you can answer this question you will have solid backbone for your entire business. Your website should be designed with a goal of allowing you to reach your business aspirations in the most expedient manner possible. You want to not only have a clear purpose for your site, but also be able to measure your results. Your purpose is likely some combination of prospect generation, direct sales, business-to-business sales, customer support and education. While most sites are aiming toward sales of some sort, the real purpose of others could be simply a place to provide in-depth product information such as spec sheets and repair manuals. You may also be seeking to educate through your sales through the use of a newsletter or blog. If your primary purpose is education, you will design your website accordingly.
  • What is the Motivation of Your Average Visitor? You must have a solid understanding of why your visitors come to your site. Are they looking to solve a specific problem? If so, what is that problem, and how can you most effectively solve it? Your website should be able to solve the issue or problem in the quickest, most efficient way possible, and you should be able to get your message across within two or three seconds of your visitor’s arrival. If your visitor is looking for a green leather purse, and their search leads them to you, then within mere seconds your site needs to deliver that green leather purse—or a variety of them—right to your visitor’s cyberspace doorstep.
  • What is Your Keyword Plan? You should have done extensive keyword research prior to determining your keywords and key phrases. There are several sites to help you choose the most successful, highly targeted keywords available for your website, and it’s a good idea to use one of them. Your keywords must be selected based on relevance, level of competition and search volume. Generic keywords which get plenty of hits will not work for you in the end because you will get too many visitors who weren’t looking for what you are offering, and your bounce rate will skyrocket. Optimize your website through strategies which make the most efficient use of your chosen keywords. You may be required to make structural changes to your site in order to conform to your search engine marketing plan. Use your keywords judiciously throughout your page content as the central theme in your message as well as in your headlines and hyperlinks. Make sure your keywords sound natural, however, and never contrived.
  • How Will You Measure Your Success? Google Analytics is a good place to analyze your visits, bounce rate and the time the average visitor spends on your website. Check out the search engine ratings on Google and Bing, to help determine what conversions your site is producing in leads and sales. If you are unable to measure your results, it will be difficult to know whether or not your efforts are paying off, so find a good program to tell you what you are doing right, and what you need to improve on.

In the end, search engine marketing could be likened to simply showing up—when people search for what you are selling or offering on your website, your website must appear, and it must be what your visitor was looking for.

Choosing Keywords That Shine

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Although you may be aware that your chosen keywords are important, you may not realize just how important they are in the overall optimization of your site. Many experts believe that the selection of your keywords may well be the most important stage in the entire optimization process, and that choosing the wrong keywords and keyword phrases can keep your website from ever reaching its potential. Choosing the right keywords, on the other hand, can maximize your return on investment, have readers flocking to your site, and move you up in Google’s ranking with the speed of lightning.

Isn’t Choosing Keywords Just Picking the Most-Searched Phrases?

It is this specific misconception which derails the keyword selection stage for many.  First of all, choosing the most-used keywords could actually send your site reeling to the bottom of the heap rather than climbing upwards. As an example, if your business involves installing solar components, then choosing the keywords solar installation might seem like a good idea. However, this is much too broad a term, and will return hundreds of thousands of results in a search. If you add your location, as in “Austin solar installation,” you have immediately narrowed the field, and landed closer to the top just by virtue of the elimination process. Even better might be “Hill Country Solar Installation,” narrowing even more. When you are looking at your own keywords, try to determine how you can use the popular keywords—with a personal spin.

Phrases which are Considered “Buy Phrases”

If you are selling a particular product or service, then you have to guard against keyword phrases which will bring you tons of traffic, with little of that traffic turning into true conversions. If you are looking for a buy phrase, then consider the example above. First of all, the term “solar” would garner you so many search returns that you wouldn’t even know how to start. Adding “installation,” narrows the field, but it is still fairly broad. What if you add the word “services,” along with your location—as in “Hill Country solar installation services?” You have just added your “buy word,” which should target those people in the Hill Country who want to have solar panels installed on their home, and are ready to pay for those services.

The problem with using “solar” as one of your keywords in this instance is that people who type in the word “solar” may not even be remotely looking for someone to install a solar panel on their home. They could be looking for solar nails, a car which runs on solar energy, a school for solar training, or could merely be interested in the solar system—as in the stars and planets in the sky. It’s important to step outside yourself when determining keywords, and look at it from the point of view of those people you hope will be searching for your company. Promotions which target multiple “buy phrase” keywords will ultimately end up being much more successful than simply using a phrase based on the number of searches it turns up. You want to decrease your competition while increasing your conversions and ROI.

Knowing Which Phrases are Most Often Searched

There are some very good tools out there you can implement when determining your keywords, such as the Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool or WordTracker. Overture can tell you which search phrases had the most searches during the prior month, however Overture’s downside is that it counts singular and plurals as the same, and corrects misspellings, while search engines do not. WordTracker, on the other hand, differentiates between plural and singular searches and does not correct spelling, meaning it gives you a much more realistic number.

When choosing your keywords, remember that just because you know your own industry inside out doesn’t mean the average layman does, so think of the terms you might type in if you knew little about the industry. Don’t target too many phrases, rather keep yourself and your keyword list highly focused—which will also keep your website focused. Spend the necessary time choosing your keywords, and you will reap the rewards in the future.