Keywords: use them the wrong way and Google will slap you

In my last post I mentioned that Google’s algorithms use over 200 different indicators that determine how your webpages are indexed and shown. Today we’ll have a look at keywords and how important they are relative to other elements. In general, Google values the factors that are difficult to manipulate by website owners (or search engine optimizers) more than what can easily be manipulated. All the stuff that you can do on your end. On your website. The difficult part is getting other sites to link to you and validate you. So in short: The ranking factors that are outside your realm of influence are the most valuable to Google. But that does not mean that what you can do isn’t important. It is very important, but Google looks at it very carefully. They don’t want you to game the system. Keywords are of relativly modest importance. Keywords are the words or combinations of words that people enter in google when they are looking for something. So a keyword is a search term. As with everything that we will discuss, with keywords you have to take the approach that makes sense from Google’s perspective: use them only where and when it is appropriate to help Google find RELEVANT content for it’s users. No more, no less. You see, it is very easy for anyone to stuff a webpage with a bunch of keywords. And Google knows that. And in the past, that has been abused by internet marketeers a lot. So, Google has evolved it’s algorithms to the point where they can very accurately measure and weigh if someone is trying to stuff a lot of keywords in a page in an unnatural way or if someone is creating valuable and relevant content. Over-doing the keyword thing is dangerous and can harm the position of your page in the rankings.
More becomes less very quickly when it comes to keyword stuffing
More becomes less very quickly when it comes to keyword stuffing
It’s like the law of diminishing returns displayed in this graph. At a certain point, more of the same becomes less effective or even harmful. Having said that, you should definitely use keywords in the title tag because that is by far the most important place for you to put one or two good keywords. But also use them in headlines, image names and body text of the pages or blog posts you write. But only if they are really relevant. And don’t worry too much about synonyms and variations. Google is smart. They know. Having a keyword in your domain name isn’t as valuable as it used to be. In the old days, Google reasoned that if the keyword was in the domain name, the whole site would be centered around that topic. And though that might be true, that does not necessarily mean that it’s the most relevant website for Google’s users. So lately they don’t place as much value on it as they used to, but it won’t hurt you of you do. It’s a good idea to use the right keyword(s) in your url’s, but again, only if it makes sense and only to help Google find and serve relevant content for its customers. And don’t overdo it. Basically, Google looks at a URL like this: So this is good: This would not be good: The most important place to have your keywords is… … in the links on other websites that point to your page. And that is also the hardest to influence. And therefore the most valuable in the eyes of Google. If only the Huffington post would have this text with a link to our page, that would be worth way more than what we could do ourselves: Check out this awesome WordPress plugin that makes it easy for you to manage the pages of your WordPress site. Some quick and important points on keywords to recap:
  • Keywords are not as important as they used to be. Still use them, but do it in a natural way and not in an artificial way
  • Google does not use the keyword meta tag. At all.
  • Google does not like keyword stuffing or a high keyword density (law of diminishing returns)
  • Having a keyword in your domain name can help and it won’t hurt.
  • Put keywords in your URLs in the right place and each keyword only once
  • Use keywords in the title tag, headline, body text and image names on your page, but only when it makes sense.
I hope this has helped you to put the value and use of keywords in to perspective. Let me know your thoughts.
August 10, 2014
Chris Vermeulen
Stuff Google Likes, Website Improvement, keywords, SEO

This is how you can know exactly what keywords people use when they look for your product or service

A few weeks ago I wrote on my blog about the relative importance of keywords. And though more is not necessarily better (actually, stuffing a webpage with keywords is going to hurt you) it is a good thing if you know the keywords your customer use, so you can work them in to your webpages and blog posts in a natural way. So here’s how you can find out what search terms your customers use: First do a little brainstorm with your team (or on your own) to come up with possible search terms. Think product names, service descriptions, but also how a customer would frame a problem they have that you can solve. Or the solution to that problem. ‘Plumber’ and ‘plumbing’ are good keywords if you are a plumber, but so would be ‘plumber + your city’ and ‘water leak’ (problem) and ‘water tap replacement’ (solution). Think like your customers. Just write down all the keywords you can come up with. You’ll sort them out later. Second, look in your website stats and see if you can find the words people used to find you. These are the words you are currently found with. Add these to your list. Then check out the keywords your competition uses. You can do that by typing in some of the keywords from your list in Google and check out the first 3-5 websites that are shown. On their pages, do a right click and ‘view source’. You get an html-overview of that page. Look at the titletag and description tag. They shoud be in the top of the document. Also look for keywords in the headline of the text and in the text itself. By now you have compiled an impressive list of possible keywords, but you still have no idea which of these your customers use the most.  We’ll fix that now. Just go Google’s KeywordPlanner here: You might need to sign up or at least sign in with your Google account. Now here you will have to play around a bit with all the options you have. But the end result after 10 minutes or so should be a list that is sorted on most volume search terms. You can download that list as a csv-file. So, now you have a huge list of keywords you know your customers are using. Cool! Now you should do one more thing: Create a Keyword Effectiveness spreadsheet. It should have the keywords in the first column, the monthly search volume in your country or area in the second column, the allintitle numbers in the third column, the total number of results found in the fourth column and the KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) in the fifth column.keyword effictiveness indexNow you should paste each keyword in Google and search for it like this: allintitle: keyword. That way you get to see all the webpages that have that search term in the title. Put the number of search results in the allintitle-column behind the keyword. Then in Google delete ‘allintitle: ‘ and hit enter again. Now you get all the search results (way more). Put that number in the ‘total results’ column. Finally, click in the empty box in the KEI column and devide the local montly volume by the allintitle amount. You now get the Keyword Effectiveness Index. This shows you if you at least have a shot at getting a good position in Google for that keyword. Please bear in mind that you’ve devided the number of monthly searches for your area or country by the world wide number of websites that have that keyword in the title of a webpage. So this KEI only serves as a means to sort all your keywords in a ‘most likely to succeed’ list. Now  I know this is not the most fun chore on your way to online success, but if you put in a few hours work, the rewards will be awesome and I guarantee you will a) earn it back many times and b) laugh and smile all the way when you see the results coming in. So eat the frog and do it. It’ll pay off. And you only have to do this once. Okay, so if you have gone through your list of keywords and have created this Keyword Effectiveness Index that is tailored to your business, you can now sort it according to the KEI column. What you will see is that some search terms are a combination of words that you would not have thought of in the beginning (sectional sofas). And it is very unlikely that the general, main keywords that consist of one or two words (interior design) are high on the list. That’s because every website in your industry is trying to get on the first page in Google for that keyword. Chances are low you can achieve that. But the good news is you now have a bunch of keywords of which the search volume might be relatively low, but the chances of getting on the first page for them are high. These are the keywords you should use in your website, in the title tags of your pages, in the headlines, body text, image descriptions and such. If you are doing Adwords (paid advertising) these are the keywords to focus on. It’s a rookie mistake to spend money on those generic, high search volume keywords. But more on that later. For now, spend some time and create this list of keywords to use them now and in the future. Yes, it’s quite some work, but it is not difficult and you can do this! – Chris –
August 3, 2014
Chris Vermeulen
Stuff Google Likes, Website Improvement, keyword research, keywords, SEO
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Here’s a short list of buzz words that might come in handy when talking about SEO (yep, that’s one right there!)

Soooo… we’ve all heard people throw around all kinds of words and acronyms. Some might even know what they mean :-) But there’s no point in using these words to appear smarter than someone else. It’s just silly. Having said that, creating a mutual language to talk about different subjects, might be mutually beneficial. In this post, I want to share some of the words that we use when talking about Search Engine Optimization. Just read through them quickly and bookmark this page for future reference. Here goes. SEOSearch Engine Optimization – improving the position (ranking) of one or more pages of your website in the natural (unpaid) search results of one or more search engines SEMSearch Engine Marketing – is the combination of SEO and paid advertising (Adwords). SERPSearch Engine Results Page – the page showing the results after you have typed in a search term Adwords – paid advertisements that look like organic search results displayed above and on the right of organic search results Adsense – Showing Adwords on a website. The website showing the Adwords advertisement gets a percentage of the PPC price the advertiser pays Google. Organic – Organic search results are the web pages that Google considers to be the most relevant to that user in that location on that moment in time. They are not advertisements. PPCPay Per Click advertising PPVPay Per View advertising, generally calculated per 1000 views PPMPay Per Mille or Pay Per 1000 views advertising Spider – a script that search engines use to ‘crawl’ your website (go from page to page) and index everyting that is on it. Also known as ‘crawler’. Back link – a link coming from another website pointing to a page of your website (<– you want this!) PageRank – is a value of a webpage, determined by the algorithms of Google, based on the quantity and quality of pages linking to the webpage Link juice – the passing along of PageRank or in other words; the value or quality of a page that links to one of your pages Link bait – a webpage designed to be so good that people want to share the URL on social media and create back links to the page Keyword – one or more words a person types into a search engine to look for something Long tail – a search query that consists of multiple words and is rather specific. Meta tags – information that is embedded in a webpage that is not visible to visitors but is visible to search engine spiders. You have a Title-, Keyword- and Description tag. Title tag – meta tag that is shown in the tab of the browser as well as the short (67 characters) sentence shown in blue in Google. This is by far the most important place to put one or two keywords. Keyword tag –  meta tag that used to be used for entering keywords. No longer in use by Google so you can ignore it. Description tag – meta tag that you can use to put a short (156 characters) description of your webpage here. Google might use it, but it can also choose to use an excerpt from your page content. Reciprocal link – two sites that link to each other. If you understand PageRank, you’ll understand that this has no value. In addition, Google frowns upon it in some cases. Canonical URL – this is the preferred URL that Google considers to be the main or original page when the same content is shown multiple times on a site (happens a lot with blogs and CMS’s) Canonical tag – this is a tag that you have to put in the <HEAD> of each page that has duplicate content on it to tell Google which of the duplicate content pages is the original or main page. The tag looks like this: <link rel=”canonical” href=”” /> Let’s stop here for now :-) If this is all too much for you right now, don’t worry. All of these will be discussed in future blog posts sooner or later and I will show you exactly what to do to fix it if you think it’s broken. Don’t let this list intimidate you! It’s just a bunch of words describing some of the stuff that you will have to learn along the way if you want your website to surpass the competition. Is there a certain SEO buzz word that you’ve heard and would like to know more about? Just let me know in a comment and we’ll talk about it.

– Chris –

July 24, 2014
Chris Vermeulen
Stuff Google Likes, Adwords, Meta tags, PageRank, SEO
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Stuff Google Likes – a fresh approach on how to get higher rankings in Google.

With close to 70% market share worldwide, and in some countries close to 99%, Google is a force to reckon with. Every website owner knows that a good ranking in Google can make all the difference. There’s even an entire industry created around this simple (but not easy) concept. As a fan of the Pareto principle (the 80-20 rule) I would like to share with you the 20% of things you can do to get higher in Google that will provide you with 80% of the desired results. In other words, if you do a couple of things right, your webpage rankings will surpass many, many others that don’t have a clue. So let’s have a look at the stuff Google likes to see in a website so you can take action and reap the rewards. It’s often said that Google uses algorithms that take over 200 different factors in to account, in order to determine how high they should rank the different pages of your site in the search results. That here, my friend, is lesson one: Google ranks the PAGES of your site. Not your entire site as a whole. So the next time someone talks to you about how high their website is ranked in Google, you can ask: “What page of your website?” And that is encouraging to know, because now you have many chances to get different pages of your site ranked higher and higher in Google. Let’s move on. These 200+ aspects of the algorithms all have different weights. Not every aspect is as important as the next one. And Google is constantly tweaking the number of factors they consider as well as creating new ones and removing old ones. So no one knows the exact formula you could try here. Not even me :-) It is a well-kept, 50 billion dollar formula. But what I do know is that Google is focused on one thing. Just one: making it’s users happy by providing the best possible search results. And they will stop at nothing to deliver just that. Why? Because if the users are happy, Google is the preferred, default search engine the people use and therefor the one that gets the most advertising money. Last year, Google made over 50 billion dollars in advertising revenue. Which is over 90% of their total revenue. So you can imagine how they want to guard that. This simple way of looking at Google is so relevant and it will serve as a frame of reference in future articles. Many people are so focused on getting higher in Google that they forget to look at the big picture. And the big picture is this:  Google is bigger, smarter and richer than you and has way more resources than you have. That’s why I can’t grasp why there are still people, website owners and even SEO-consultants that think they can out-smart Google with a few tricks. It’s mind boggling. It’s really very simple: Google wants to show the most relevant webpages for each specific search. And websites that think they are also relevant and should be shown for that search query can pay to be shown there. It’s called Adwords. :-) You see now why everyone that is trying to game the system by applying some ‘SEO-tactics’ is considered the enemy in the eyes of Google? Either they should pay to be shown (advertisement) or be so relevant that Google wants to show them for free to please their users. It’s really as simple as that. So in this series we will talk about the stuff that Google likes to see in a webpage that they actually want to show to their users.  For free. To please them. We will not discuss ways to game the system or some fancy tricks that might work today but will get you penalized tomorrow. We will focus on strategies and tactics that will work for you both now and in the long run.  For now, let’s recap the most important points: 
  1. Google indexes webpages, not websites
  2. Google looks at over 200 – constantly changing – aspects when indexing your webpages.
  3. Google wants to be the nr. 1 search engine because of the advertising revenue (50b.) by giving the most relevant results
  4. People who try to game the system are Google’s enemies because they a) should pay for advertisement or b) displease the users by not being as relevant as possible
Next week or so I will share with you the next things you should know and do to get your pages higher in Google. In the meantime, let me know what questions you have or what problems you encounter. I’m here to help. photo credit: FindYourSearch via photopin cc
July 10, 2014
Chris Vermeulen
Stuff Google Likes, ranking, SEO
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