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July 20, 2007

Wise Words: Analyse keywords for better website positioning

Good analysis and research is the main criteria when it comes to sorting out your keywords. Easier said than done though in the great majority of cases. Engaging an expert is possibly one of the best moves you’ll make, as they’ll run rings around any amount of work you’ll do on your own. The difference between the best keyword analysis software and the freebees can be colossal. The best tools will unearth some real eye openers you’ll never have thought about.

One elementary yet very common mistake is to gather together a bunch of keywords and to copy them across an entire website. This will drastically reduce the effectiveness of pages. If instead you focus and carryout research upon 2 to 5 words per page the results are likely to be much better.

It’s worth remembering that keyword spellings can obviously vary from country to country. If we consider some of the most outstanding differences between English speaking nations such as England, the US and Australia, a whole new batch of keywords may be worth further analysis. Not only are spellings possibly different but also entire words will have their alternatives (eg pavement and sidewalk). Complete phrases may also be regularly used and understood in one country but not in another. Particular phrases can even vary greatly on a much more local level, especially if we consider popular sayings and slang. That said one of the best policies you can adopt is to check your keywords regularly. All things web related tend to change fairly quickly. What works today could be desperately out of line tomorrow. Once you feel you have a good set of keywords together, you’d be best advised to carryout some basic search engine tests. Testing will illustrate:

  • If keywords are correct for the niche of the page concerned.
  • Competitiveness of keywords and the strength of the competition.
  • If sites ranked for particular keyword searches are really competitors or have any relationship to the area in which you compete.

OK, now’s the time to hit you with a big one – Latent Semantic Indexing otherwise referred to as Latent Semantic Analysis. Gosh where did that one suddenly come from? Well it’s possibly too much to adequately detail in this brief article, but worth mentioning nevertheless. If you want to get serious about your keywords and SEO in general, then some additional research around LSI will do you the world of good. Wikipedia lists LSI as a “technique in natural language processing, in particular in vectorial semantics, of analysing relationships between a set of documents and the terms they contain by producing a set of concepts related to the documents and terms”. Well no one ever said it was simple, but basically from a search engine performance point of view we are interested in the relationship, grouping, positioning and variation of terms. Occasionally the right mix can just be stumbled across but most web designers wouldn’t really be aware they’d got it right or wrong. First understanding and then using this mix intelligently can set your pages leagues ahead of the competition.

As pointed out at the start it’s perhaps best leaving the whole business of SEO and keywords to the experts. This is assuming you can find someone who’s competent and has your best interests in mind. If your budget is only small or you site performs so badly that anything is an improvement, then the best advice is to keep it simple. Sorting out your keywords for a site that has previously coped reasonably well without will make a big difference. Don’t expect overnight success. The top search engines move at their own pace, so it’s not uncommon for site modifications to take several weeks to filter through to an improvement in search positioning.

Author:  Paul Coupe is lead designer / developer with Zoom Online.
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