If you want your site to appear high in results without paying for ads, choosing which keywords to use throughout your site is critical! Choose the most narrowly defined terms appropriate to your products, services or content.
Let's say your company creates math software for kids. You could use terms such as "educational software," "math software," "kids software." But your site won't show up high in search results because millions of other sites use such terms.
Instead, use very specific keywords -- such as "kids algebra educational software" -- repeatedly. Yes, use the entire phrase over and over. Keep in mind that "keyword stuffing -- repeating a keyword without content or context -- can get your site blackballed from search engines. So make sure you're actually providing real information related to those terms.
Search engine marketing (SEM)
If you're willing to pay for ads on a major search engine, such as Google or Yahoo, you'll "bid," for placement against other advertisers who also want to be associated with certain keywords. The more you're willing to pay, the higher in the listings your ad will appear. That's another reason to narrow your keywords: there will be fewer competing bidders the more specific your terms are.
Even if you pay for placement, you still want to optimize your Web site -- or certain pages of your Web site -- for keywords. That's because search engines still want to make sure the results, even ads, that searchers see are relevant.
Keys to improving your site's search engine rankings:
1. Keyword density -- make sure your keywords appear frequently.
2. Keyword placement (where on the page your keywords appear) -- closer to the top is generally better.
3. Page titles, headlines, bold text -- sites where keywords appear in page titles, headlines and bold text will generally rank higher.
4. Meta tags (the description of the content that is programmed into the code of a Web site) -- search engines look to see if keywords are in the metatags.
5. Age of site -- search engines rank older sites higher, under the assumption they were not just put there to game the ranking system.
6. Links in -- if many sites link to a page, search engines assume you have a good site worthy of higher rankings.
7. Quality of links in -- if the links in to a page come from sites with higher rankings themselves or with heavy traffic, those links are considered more valuable in determining rankings.
8. Links out -- if a page is also linking out to other sites, it is viewed as being more likely to have genuine content rather than just being a spam site.
9. Freshness -- search engines look to see how recently a Web site's content has been updated, assuming that newer content is of more interest to users.