If you put an extremely handsome man in a room with three beautiful women, and you put an average-looking guy in a room with five-hundred beautiful women, which man do you think has better odds for getting a date? How about more than one date?
The truth is — larger the group, better are the odds. Likewise, the content you focus on with your website or blog — the “keywords” — can also increase your odds of attracting more traffic if more people search with those terms.
Google has done a tremendous job scaring the bejesus out of website owners. Say “Panda” and “Penguin” and you’ll see blog owners turn white and start having cold sweats.The term “keyword research” now has a stigma surrounding it.
Now, the buzzwords of the day are relevant content, user experience and quality. Everyone thinks that so long as they build high-quality web pages that offer a valuable user experience, Google will magically discover those pages, and reward them with volumes of traffic.
Unfortunately, what today’s bloggers and website owners fail to understand is that keywords still remain the lifeblood of Internet search — and that also flows into other areas of the Internet where you want people to find you, like your LinkedIn profile, selling things on Ebay or Amazon, or creating an online resume to land your next job. The only thing that has changed is that instead of the focus being on specific keywords — keyword research now involves discovering how people are searching for topics that are related to what you offer.
Where Are the Crowds Online?
In 2012, the folks at Google Webmaster Tools described this concept best when they wrote:
Google has said before that search engine optimization, or SEO, can be positive and constructive – and we’re not the only ones. Effective search engine optimization can make a site more crawlable and make individual pages more accessible and easier to find. Search engine optimization includes things as simple as keyword research to ensure that the right words are on the page, not just industry jargon that normal people will never type.
So, why would Google send keyword-intensive spam sites into the garbage bin on one hand, but then on the other say that people should do keyword research to make sure that the “right words are on the page”? Isn’t that no longer important? Shouldn’t we only care about user experience and quality? Well, not quite. Matt Cutts explained why in one of his WordCamp keynote addresses.
In this talk, Matt explained the importance of making what you publish relevant to what people want when searching the web. He describes relevance as “what you say on your page”, and being reputable is “what people link to you”. These are two of the core factors for people to easily find your content on search engines.
How did Matt describe making sure your information is “relevant”? He explained as follows:
“If you are a blogger, think of all of the different ways that someone can describe something. Think of all of the different ways that you can naturally fit that into your post.”
Oh my gosh! That’s building your content around keywords, which is bad, isn’t it? NO! What’s bad is ignoring doing the keyword research into what words people use to search for the topics you love to write about, and failing to use those words in your posts! And then actually wondering why your traffic still isn’t climbing even though your writing style and quality is stellar and your blog design is stupendous.
Keywords on Your LinkedIn Profile
It really is as simple as that. It’s not rocket science. Not focusing your content on what people are searching for is a disastrous mistake.
Using the right words works, and it’s not only for blogs. Think about it. People now use the web for things like shopping, posting and sharing photos, looking for a job or hiring people. Understanding what people are searching for online will get that profile, resume or item you are selling in front of the most eyes.
LinkedIn has always been one of the best ways to get your name and your expertise out into the world for all to see.
If you’ve made your LinkedIn profile public (I personally haven’t) and you’ve used the keywords that are focused on the industry in which you want to work, the odds are very good that potential employers using Google will certainly stumble across your profile.
However it goes beyond Google Search when you’re talking about jobs. You’ll want to optimize your profile with keywords that target internal LinkedIn searches as well. How do you optimize for keywords in LinkedIn? The key is to think about your industry and what people who are looking to hire someone like you might search for. For example, in SEO, it would be “SEO Analyst”.
As you can see in the results here, Daniel turns up first, as the full phrase “SEO Analyst” is at the very beginning of his current title. The remaining listings here have either “analyst” or “SEO” in past work. If someone wanted to be listed first under this term, they would have “SEO Analyst” in their title, a few times in past work, and a few times under current work.
Keywords in an Online Resume
It seems like such a simple concept, but you’d be shocked at how few people actually pay attention to the actual words they use in their resume that they post on the Web.
Let’s say you’ve got a resume and the job that you’re looking for is as a project manager. The first thing you should do is go to the Google Keyword Planner, click on “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”, and search type “project manager” into the “Your product or service” field. Finally, click on the “Get ideas” button.
So, here is a perfect example of how SEO has changed in recent years. In the “old days”, people would just sort by search volume and then use the top terms without much thought. What Matt reiterates in the video above, and what Google likes to see, is when you stop and think about the keywords, why the person is typing them into the search engine, and whether that topic is relevant to the content that already exists on your page.
Think about it — anyone typing “project manager certification” isn’t looking for someone with that certification, they’re looking to get the certification for themselves. Do you really want those people going to your resume? You’ll just end up with people bouncing right back off your page.
Instead, you want to look for relevant phrases — “agile project management” and “lean project management” are two good examples here. Why? Because the people searching those terms are looking for solutions for their own project management needs. Now, if your resume comes up as an expert in lean project management, your odds of converting that person to a paying client or employer are much better.
Want proof? Below is evidence that website style, user experience and quality are still not above keyword use when it comes to getting solid placement in Google. The following resume listed high on Google search results for “Project Management Consultant”.
The background is a cheap, stock theme, the Navigation bar at the bottom is hard to see and awkwardly placed, and trying to find how to contact this person is nearly impossible. Nevertheless, he ranks higher than any other resume for this search term.
How did he do it? He reserved the domain projectmanagerconsultant.com, he used the search term in the title of the page and the first header of the page. The phrase is mentioned first in the meta description and once in the meta keywords. It’s everything that many web designers think doesn’t matter anymore. So why does it list so high? Because it’s relevant. People searching for “project manager consultant” are looking for this guy, Google knows it, and so his efforts with the keyword phrase pay off.
Yet there are hundreds of beautiful, better-designed business and freelancer websites with fantastic content that offer project manager consulting, and they all rank below this guy. Why? Because he did his research, and used the relevant keyword phrase in the right places on the page.
Imagine how well you’d do if you did the same thing, and also offered highly-professional, interesting content on the same site where you host your resume? You could beat out everyone in your industry and maybe even get listed at the very top of search results.
Keywords for Selling Online
Do keywords matter when you list items for sale on places like Ebay or Amazon? You bet they do. Check out this search for “Acer Chromebook” on Ebay. So long as “Best Match” is selected for the sort (as it is by default), your use of keywords will determine where you’re listed.
So, what makes Ebay consider a listing to be more “relevant” to the search term? Much like Google, it comes down to the density of the keywords inside the ad — keywords that match both the search term as well as variants of it. For example, the current first listing under “Acer Chromebook” has the term “Acer Chromebook” situated at the very beginning (left) of the item title.
On top of this, you’ve got the exact phrase mentioned 3-4 more times throughout the page content, as well as variations of “Acer” and “Chromebook” in close proximity in different areas of the page. It also appears that at least on Ebay, there are other factors that come into play when it comes down to placement in the listings, such as the seller’s feedback rank and the volume of business that seller has already conducted on eBay.
Nevertheless, understanding what people who want your product will type in for a search term, and then optimizing for that term throughout your listing, will go a long way toward getting more eyes on your product, and more bids. The same holds true for Amazon and nearly any other online seller service that offers a buyer search form.
Promoting Your Photography
Are you really into photography, and would love to see your images showing up under Google Image Search results? Would you believe me if I told you that image queries are also heavily dependent on keywords? If you set up your images right, you could easily find your photos at the top of Google Image Search results.
The way to accomplish this is clearly detailed by Google on its support page.
The first step is to post it somewhere online, and then the second is to make it searchable. If set up right, you’ll get listed just like we did here with an image posted to a blog article we published covering the White Dragon Society.
This picture, hosted at my site, was listed at the top of Google Image Search results primarily because of how the link was set up and how keywords were used around the image on the page itself.
Alt text for the image was focused on “white dragon society”. The title of the page included the term. The phrase is used about 10 times throughout the article within which the image was placed. Meta keywords for the page included white dragon society. So, obviously many of the same factors that lead to an article ranking well in search results, can also help get your images ranked highly too in Google Image search results.
So, a great way to feature your photos and have it seen by millions is to include those images on your own portfolio or blog website that includes plenty of interesting content around those images themselves. Focus the content, the image names, and the link text, around the search phrase you’ve discovered that’s most relevant to the type of photos you hope to have displayed.
Use Common Sense — And You’ll Win Every Time
Using keywords to super-charge your online presence in everything you do doesn’t have to be complicated. Google Keyword Planner is very easy to use — and the search volumes are clearly given. Using those phrases in your article are simple too — just do like Matt Cutts himself suggested and fit the terms into the content in ways that are natural and normal.
Don’t force them, don’t stuff them, and don’t just choose random phrases because the search volume is high. On the flip side, don’t avoid focusing on keyword research, because if you do, your website traffic, interest in your photography, queries on your resume, and bids on your online auctions will all remain flat or decline. However, the moment you start listening to what people who search Google are telling you with their queries, you will almost immediately see tremendous results in your visibility and online presence.