Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What to do With Your Search Terms

Search Engine Optimization, Back to Basics, Part 5

When I was growing up, my father would often go off on rants.

Well, “rants” is probably not a correct word. Maybe, “lectures” could work. “Sermons” is another option. Probably, “Pontifications” is the best one, really.

I would do something wrong, and he would impose the cruelest and most unusual of punishments. He would drone on and on about what I’d done wrong, why it’s wrong, what I should have done better, and any other perceived flaw I had displayed or injustice I had also committed.

I ended up wishing he would have just beaten me and gotten it over with.

Sometimes, I would try to shorten the ordeal by telling him, “I know, Dad, I know”. That was a big mistake, because, of course, if I truly had known, I wouldn’t have done the thing in the first place. Of course, that would be what he would lecture me on next. That particular lecture usually wound up with this quote from Proverbs, chapter: Dad, verse: Dad, which reads, “It’s not what you know that counts, it’s what you do with what you know.”

So, here I am, many years later, applying the wisdom of my father to the task at hand. And the task at hand is search engine optimization, specifically, keywords.

If you read the last part in this article series, you’ll have a list of 4-8 good, strong keywords or keyword phrases. You’ll have a good working knowledge of what your audience is searching for, and what your competition is using.

Still, it’s not what you know that counts; it’s what you do with what you know.

These words need to be included in your site in order to hit as search matches, and bring you up in the results list. They need to be included in the right places, in the right ways, so that you’re not only in the list, but you’re ranking well. How do you do that? Here’s where they go:

  1. In the body text of the pages

This is by far, the most important part of the website for keyword matching. This is the actual, visible text on the page. Include as many of the strong keywords as you can here. The key is to put them into the sentences. That means that you just don’t pile them into a list at the bottom of your page, but rather, you create good text that includes these words. Some of the stronger words, you’ll want to include many times. Some you will include three, four, five or more times, depending on how well you can write them in. Remember, your audience will still be reading it, and you don’t want to distract them or turn them away.

  1. In the first few paragraphs

Words that are toward the top of the page carry a little more weight than words at the bottom. Keep that in mind as you lay out your site and prepare your text.

  1. In Header Tags

Words that appear in “header” HTML tags also carry more weight. The search engine assumes that these are headlines, and more important. Now, don’t do your whole site in header text, or it’ll all get thrown out.

If you don’t understand HTML, often, like the ClickSiteBuilder, you can use your web editor to place text in the proper header tags.

  1. In the title tags

There’s a part of the site that doesn’t appear on the page itself, but rather in the title bar at the top of the web browser. This is, in HTML, called the “title” tag. If you can write your title so that it carries one or two of your stronger keywords, it will help your ranking.

If you’re working in the ClickSiteBuilder, or some other web editor, you can find the “Web Page Title” spot for editing on each page.

  1. In the META description

The META tags have been the source of some controversy for a long time. The META Keywords tag is no longer used by the search engines to find matches. But the META description is. For those working in the ClickSiteBuilder, you can find the META Description under the “Promote” button, in the “Keywords” area.

  1. In link text

When you create links from one page to another within your website, make sure that the text you put in the link includes a keyword. That will carry a little bit more weight that plain text.

  1. In the ALT TEXT of your graphics

As you install pictures into your website, you’ll see places where you can enter what’s called “Alt Text”. In pure HTML, this is called the “ALT” attribute to an “IMG” tag. The original purpose for this space was to display some descriptive text in place of the picture if it didn’t load. This is a good place to put some keywords, but not just big lists. Write a phrase or two that contains a keyword and describes the picture.

Remember: You could know all there is to know about keywords, but if you don’t do anything with that knowledge, it won’t help you!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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