The number one thing people ask me over and over and over is “How can I improve my ranking in the search engines?” There are 8 zillion articles on the web about this, and I highly encourage you to read a few of them – but the Reader’s Digest version is – if you are an entrepreneur/tiny business owner, it ain’t easy.
It will take more than one post to even give a cursory glance at what you can do to improve your ranking, but let’s start with what I think is the most crucial one:
When I say keywords, I actually mean keyword phrases – 2- or 3-word phrases that people will use to search for the kind of stuff that you offer. When you select keywords, note that you are competing with every single other site on the Internet using those same keywords. The fewer sites you are competing with, the better the chances you will rank on the first few pages of results. So, for example, if you sell jewelry, there is no point in competing for the keyword “silver jewelry.” You will be competing against thousands of other sites, including all the big name department stores, discount stores, and retail outlets. You won’t win.
So get specific. And for the love of ScoobyDoo, use a keyword tool. The Google AdWords tool is a good one, but you can find others. What you are looking for is keywords that A) people actually search for but B) Don’t have tons of competition. It is a juggling act.
For example, you might be the only person in the country to use the keyword phrase “purple rabid armadillo socks”, but does anyone actually search for that? If not, then it is useless. The keyword “purple socks” gets way more searches, but also offers way too much competition. “Armadillo socks”? Ding ding ding! We have a winner! At least if you sell armadillo socks.
If your business is regional (for example, you are a cobbler who works in Pflugerville, Texas) then include that in your keywords. “Pflugerville cobbler.” There is no point in having to compete with cobblers in Boise, Idaho for the same keywords – you will be much more successful just targeting people in your own area.
A few things to note – keywords are not case-sensitive, so you do not need to do lower-case and upper-case variations.
However, if applicable, you should do both singular and plural versions, i.e., both “handmade poplin straightjacket” and “handmade poplin straightjackets.”
Limit yourself to a few keyword phrases per page. Each page of your site may (and probably should) have different keywords that pertain to specifically what that page is about. But limit yourself to a few per page.
This is just one small step in a very large process to rank in search engines. But it is definitely where you need to start.