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SEO and Keyword Selection - Six Common Mistakes Made by Small Businesses Part 1

SEO results There are many factors that affect search engine rankings. Keywords are just one of those factors, but an important one. There are certain considerations when choosing the best keywords to optimize for a website. Most small business owners make the same mistakes when it comes to keyword selection and website optimization. The following are the first three of the six most common mistakes.

1. The first mistake is to believe that keywords in the Meta tags of a website alone will be enough to influence search engine rankings. Yes, there was a time in the early days of the internet - when Google was still wet behind the ears - clever webmasters could simply dish up a heaping helping of their favorite keywords and achieve high rankings overnight. The keywords did not even have to relate to the actual content of the web page. Those days however are long gone.

Tip: Simply put, if you want rankings from search engines then make sure that search engines know that your web site content provides a relevant match to the keyword phrase you want to be found for. Think in terms of promotion and marketing. You need to make people aware of what your business offers. For online marketing, search engines also need to be made aware of the same information. It doesn't matter if you are in the business of selling clocks in Cleveland or mussels to Muscovites. Even if you manufacture Who-pudding for the good citizens of Whoville, then part of your business strategy will involve letting those citizens know all about your Who-pudding. You would advertise "Who-pudding for sale" all over the place. When somebody searches for those Who-puddings for sale on the internet, then your web page must shout out to a search engine, "Hey, here I am its me you want Who-puddings for sale are us!"

Take away: There is more to it, of course, but primarily it is good practice to match your keywords as closely as possible to the actual content of your site.

2. A similar mistake is to think that keyword density alone within the content of a website will make all the difference. While it is true that search engines do rely upon quantitative benchmarks in determining the relevancy of content, it is a complex process. In fact, a keyword density ratio that is too high could flag the search engine filters and a web page can actually lose rankings for what is seen as overt manipulation through keyword stuffing.

Tip: Do not attempt to manipulate search engine rankings with keyword stuffing, including irrelevant content or hidden text. Instead, provide rich, meaningful text that is relevant to the searcher and that provides real information. Write content that flows and which highlights your keywords in a natural way. Both the search engines and your readers will love you for it.

Take away: Today, content is king and that means content that is relevant to the keyword phrase being searched for.

3. Another common mistake regarding keyword usage is to try and compete for too broad a search term. It is important to narrow the focus in order to compete more effectively. It helps to know your target audience and to try and match what they are searching for. Start with a broad term that represents what you offer and then add qualifiers to the keyword to better reach your target audience. Your business might be selling coffee in California, but there may be a specialized market just waiting to be capitalized upon. The keyword phrase "fair trade coffee in Fresno" for example may be just the ticket to cornering a niche market.

Tip: Launching a keyword campaign, like any other component of business marketing, requires a strategy. There is a logic to choosing keyword phrases. Know your target audience and match your keywords to what they are looking for.

Take away: To compete effectively for a keyword, it is important to focus on a niche market.