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Choosing Your Keywords

“Better to be a big fish in a small pond, than to be a small fish in a big pond.”That proverb can be especially true in the “big pond” that is the Internet, and more specifically, in regard to search engines on the Internet.

When choosing your keywords, knowing how to limit your competition is essential. Time and time again, I see people construct their keywords using just one common word, such as “Bike”, and then they question why they aren’t getting ranked highly in the various search engines. When you choose common words such as “Bike”, you are typically giving yourself a great amount of unnecessary competition. For instance, at the time this article was written, a search on Google for “Bike” returned over 10 million results. Trying to get a high ranking with a search term as broad as that is indeed achievable, but why burden yourself by competing with 10 million other results when you could avoid it?

What I also find common is that a site will try to target a search term such as “Bike” while they really don’t need to, because their site is related to something much more specific, such as “Bike Safety Equipment”. The search term “Bike Safety Equipment” at the time of this article was written returned around 400,000 Google results. 400,000 results is still a lot of competition, but obviously far less than 10 million. In the case of your own search terms, the difference could be significantly more dramatic.

The point being, if your web site is related to something specific, try targeting that specific keyword search term, instead of opening yourself up to a ton of competition by being too broad. The more specific you are, and the less competition you have, the easier it will be for you to get a higher ranking for your search terms.

Localizing your Keywords

If your website offers products and/or services locally, you can take advantage of that fact and optimize accordingly. For the following examples, lets use a made-up web site for a store called “Eddie’s Mountain Bikes”, which sells mountain bikes in Dallas, Texas.

When choosing a keyword search term for this site, the first keyword that probably comes to mind would be “Mountain Bike”, and clearly that phrase should be plentiful in your web site. We shouldn’t stop there, but let’s say we did, and we target “Mountain Bike” as our primary keyword search term for this site.

First, let’s find out what our competition looks like. At the time of this writing, the keyword “Mountain Bike” returned over 2,000,000 results, which is a lot of competition.

Second, let’s say that we do end up getting in the top 10 results for “Mountain Bike” on Google. Now, what are the chances that the people who were looking to buy a mountain bike are going to be in the Dallas area? At the time of this article, there were around 300 million people in the United States and just over 3 million in Dallas. So in theory, you’ve got a 1 in 100 probability that the person who just found your site is from the Dallas area.

Instead of being so broad and only using “Mountain Bike”, what if we became more specific? Let’s use the keyword search term “Mountain Bike Dallas”. By making that change, we have now dropped from 2,000,000 results to just over 50,000 results. Also, anyone searching for “Mountain Bike Dallas” is most likely to be from the Dallas area. You could also include other surrounding areas in your keyword search terms.

Also, take note that you haven’t taken yourself out of the running for the keyword search term “Mountain Bike”, because that is still part of “Mountain Bike Dallas”. So you can be ranked high in both search terms. But if you had only targeted “Mountain Bike” with no mention of Dallas, you wouldn’t be a contender for the Dallas market any longer.

Things to avoid

When becoming more specific in your keyword search terms, you do want to avoid becoming too specific. For example, in the case of the Eddie’s Mountain Bikes web site, you wouldn’t want to get as specific as “Mountain Bike Dallas Maple Street” because that is not going to be searched for very often, if ever. I’d suggest finding a good middle ground, somewhere between a really broad search term such as “Bike”, and an overly specific one such as “Mountain Bike Dallas Maple Street”.

Make sure you are optimizing your web site for what it is really about. You may find a good keyword search term that has minimal competition, but don’t be tempted to use it just because of that. Visitors are good, but only if they find what they are looking for on your site.

If your site offers products and/or services locally as well as nationally or internationally, make sure you optimize your web site for all of them. The area you want to target more particularly should be what you focus on, but make certain that your visitors will be able to easily determine that you sell products and/or services nationally or internationally. It would be great to optimize your site locally and increase sales and traffic, but not at the expense of eliminating your other target audiences.

If you are optimizing for a site that would use an extremely broad search term such as “Games”, then the above steps may not benefit you. In that case, I would recommend researching and implementing other search engine optimization methods for your web site.