What’s in a Word? Google AdWords and Keyword Strategy

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Search engine optimization is a sticky wicket, one that Google AdWords is intended to help address. Keywords long have been seen as an integral part of the SEO process, since search engines often select articles based on the prevalence or relevance of keywords present in the article. However, it’s also known that simply spamming keywords into a nonsensical article is not a viable option. Google in particular is known to look for such abuses and frequently blacklists such sites from their rankings entirely — the SEO equivalent to a death sentence.

Increasingly, it is becoming necessary to integrate keywords properly into — wait for it — actual content. The first few lines of a document are particularly critical. Thus, providers interested in using keyword-oriented content not only have to integrate the keywords reasonably into an entire article of solid content, they have to provide the information up front. There are some indications that putting keywords in the second sentence of an entire page, or even more than 10 words into the first line is enough to reduce the hit rate. So, what steps can be taken to maximize keyword efficiency with a tool like Google’s AdWords?

Step 1 – Learn the Basics

Using Google’s AdWords is fairly simple. The user types in a keyword they’re interested in. Let’s choose the word “exercise,” a common enough topic. Immediately a slate of results pops up. The first category is keywords starting with “exercise” but expanding to include things such as “abdominal exercise equipment” or “body weight exercises.” Then there’s the competition category, indicating the proportion of sites that are using this keyword, the stats category, showing the number of searches for this keyword globally and locally, and a chart showing trends in this keyword’s use.

Rather than go over all the meanings of these here, the best exercise that can be recommended is to go into AdWords, put in a keyword and begin looking over the categories to see how the information shows up. Experience is the best teacher.

Step 2 – Free Associate

The human mind is an intuition-driven system. As much as we might like to style ourselves as logical and rational beings, our underlying biology completely undermines this view. Logic and reason are sitting atop engines of reaction, instinct and emotion. For the keyword-oriented provider, this is actually a very good thing. It means that coming up with creative keywords and searching them out is much easier than expected.

There are two parts to free-associating in order to come up with assorted keywords for content. The first is to simply list as many as come to mind, either alone or in a group. Write down the core mission, product or concept of the site in question, and then brainstorm out as many one- or two-word items that come to mind as a result.

Part two is to take the brainstorming words and put them into AdWords. See which ones provide good search results compared to others, and also look at the alternative keywords the site suggests as well. Sometimes a user will input “exercise” or “exercise equipment” and completely space on “abdominal exercise equipment” even though they offer just such an item. This is fine, because it means that anything a site comes up with can lead to stronger suggestions.

Step 3 – Have Something Useful to Say

It’s been stressed again and again, and no good site will ever stop stressing it: Content quality is the single most important element. No one can predict what sort of site will go viral, but it is easy to predict which ones will not. Boring, stale content that does nothing more than rehash tired old sales techniques will bomb hard enough that they might be mistaken for the declaration of hostilities.

Take an exciting approach to the content. Try something different or creative, such as keeping the text of the content short while putting the real information in an embedded video. Alternatively, use the text to tell a story rather than simply listing off a number of reasons to buy the product. Be creative and bold with the content, rather than wasting everyone’s time with another bland article that says nothing new.

Step 4 – Let the Article Drive the Language

Keyword stretching is a terrible practice. Compare the following two brief introductions using the keywords best exercise equipment:

Best Exercise Equipment is available now.

To get the best exercise equipment available, it’s important to do a bit of shopping up front.

The second sentence is clearly the stronger of the two. It’s less likely to get singled out by Google for flagging as keyword abuse, reads far better and is more respectful of the reader’s intelligence.

Step 5 – Look to Successful Sites

Perhaps a user is getting into an expanding field, such as personal fitness and exercise. AdWords offers an additional function that analyzes websites for keyword content. Putting in a popular site about exercising, specifically exercise.about.com, shows that the most common term searched by global results is personal training, followed by weightlifting.

The value of this approach is that it can provide an additional source for successful keywords. A site looking to promote exercise through one method might see that another is trending more popular, and provide links to the alternative through their site, increasing its sympathetic hit count.

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