Making Keyphrases Work for Your
Site and the Search Engines
by Jill Whalen
Does your site rank highly for keyphrases that no
one searches on? If no one is searching on your keyphrases,
it won't matter how highly your site is ranked on the search
engines. Here's a technique for securing just the right
When a website needs to be optimized
for high rankings, usually the first step is to find the
keyphrases most relevant
to the site. But what happens when the keyphrases that are
most relevant are not the ones that people are actually searching
out? Sure, you can probably get a high ranking for "Boston
business directories," but if no one is looking for that
type of site, your high rankings will not bring your website
We recently optimized a portal site for local companies
that had this very problem. Here's how we overcame our keyphrase
The site was a portal for regional
companies. For the purposes of this article, let's say
it was based in the Boston area.
The site had been optimized to rank highly for phrases such
as "Boston business directory." However, a quick
report revealed that people weren't using that phrase when
The report showed that the most searched-on
phrases relating to Boston included "Massachusetts Lottery" and "Boston
also showed that people were searching for "Boston zoo," "Boston
airport," "Boston classifieds" and "Boston restaurants." At
first, it seemed that it would be a daunting, if not impossible,
task to optimize for keyphrases that would bring targeted
traffic to this site. However, the site owner was prepared
to alter the focus of his site in any way he could to get
more traffic. Together, we brainstormed a
plan. We thought long and hard about how
we could integrate some
above into this business portal without tricking the engines
and the visitors. Finally, a plan began to gel.
First, the client found a script that showed the up-to-date local weather report
and added that to the main page of the site. He also hired a programmer to
create a script that would integrate state lottery results into his main
page. He already had a listing of local restaurants, as well as a section
for free local classifieds. All that was left to do was create a page of
links to the most sought-after local sites, such as the zoo and the airport.
The next step was to rewrite the main page, focusing on
the fact that this site now offered information on the Massachusetts
lottery, Boston weather, and Boston classifieds. We also
heavily emphasized the most important keyphrases on the links
page. The business directory itself was still prominently
featured, however, it didn't get the same focus on the page
as it previously had.
Once everything was in place, we optimized
the tags and other HTML code accordingly, and began the
Luckily this site had not yet been submitted to the major
directories such as Yahoo! and Looksmart. Using those directories'
business express services, we were able to get the keyphrases "lottery," "weather
forecasts," "restaurants" and "classifieds" into the descriptions,
since these were now a major focus of the main page of the
Yahoo! did give us a bit of a problem at first by severely
editing the description, however, a simple e-mail appeal
worked wonders. Yahoo! added our important keyphrases back
It's been three to four months since submission, and the site is doing terrifically
in the search engine rankings. The key to success with this site was the
site owner's willingness to be flexible. While not every site will be able
to alter so much of its content in accordance with popular search phrases,
it's often possible to make a few additions that don't conflict too much
with the focus of the site.
The site owner was also willing to take some risks. He was
not making much, if any, money on his site, but he was willing
to spend some money up front. He invested in our search engine
raking services and in a programmer for the scripts he needed.
It's still too early in the game to know for sure how profitable
this client will be, but something tells me he will eventually
realize a tidy profit.
There are several lessons in this case study for anyone
in business on the Web:
• If your most relevant keyphrases
aren't going to bring you traffic, find ones that will,
and alter the focus of the site if you can.
• If you're serious about your
business, you'll often have to spend money to make money.
Now it's your job to figure out how can you put some of
this information to use for the benefit of your own site!
Read "10 Tips To
The Top Of The Search Engines" from our search engine
A little word about the author:
Jill Whalen of High Rankings is an internationally
engine optimization consultant
and host of the free weekly High Rankings Advisor search
engine marketing newsletter.
She specializes in search engine optimization,
SEO consultations and seminars. Jill's handbook, "The
Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" teaches
business owners how and where to place relevant keyword phrases
on their Web sites so that they make sense to users and gain
high rankings in the major search engines.
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