How to optimize a website

All search engine optimization (SEO) begins with keyword research. Choose the wrong keywords and you’re doomed. Here’s how to go about choosing the right ones.

So let’s look at the first step of SEO: Keyword Analysis. Not the most appealing topic, but an absolutely critical foundation nonetheless. Keyword analysis is all about finding out which keywords people are searching for.

Essentially we’re measuring the demand for any given keyword. How we find this informational gold bar is by using Google’s free Keyword tool.

Using the Google Keyword tool, type in a broad term that would describe what your website offers. As an example, I’ll use an accounting firm, who provides various accounting services. For this, we will utilize a broad term, such as “accountant”.

The keyword tool will then show you the result, usually with 50 results per page. The next step is to sort this information by “Local Monthly Searches”, high to low.

Google top ranking

Google top ranking

From this list, we choose 10 – 20 keywords which best describe the actual website which is being optimized and write them down (or export them to Excel). There next step is to analyze the competition for your chosen keyword(s).

Using the list we have created, we need to visit Google.com and start assessing the competition for these keywords. Obviously, the lower the competition, the easier it will be to optimize for, so the ultimate goal in keyword research is to find high search volume keywords with low competition.

How we assess the competition is by typing each keyword into Google, one at a time, with inverted commas on either side. For example to assess the competition for the keyword, web development, we would type “web development” into Google and set it to South African results (or whichever country you are in). From this, we would see that the keyword “web development” has 208,000 results – that’s way too much competition for any sane person. So we look for another keyword, say “accounting services” – this shows us only 24,000 results – getting better.

And so the process is continued until we find the best keywords with good search volumes and low competition.

I always try to target keywords which have less than 10,000 results locally, but this is not always possible. If the website is that of a local business, then its always a good idea to try using the keyword, along with the city name. e.g. “Web developer Johannesburg” – which, as it turns out, only has 2,500 results… Now we’re talking….

And that sums up the first step in basic SEO – keyword research. Try to narrow down 3-5 keywords for your website to start with.

As with business, finding your niche is of paramount importance – the more targeted your keywords are, the easier it is to rank in and dominate the search engines. In my next column, I’ll show you how to implement these keywords into your website and get the ball rolling.

Interested In SEO? Try it yourself by clicking on www.websitesoptimization.co.za