Friday, August 24, 2007

SEO Checklist: Keywords

Here is a SEO checklist of things to consider when building your website. The checklist covers factors that affect your rankings with Google, MSN, Yahoo! and other search engines as well. The elements are categorized as being positive, negative and neutral.


  1. Keywords in < title>< /title> tag
    One of the most important places to have a keyword is within the < title> tag. What is inside the < title> tag is what will display in the results page as your page title. The title tag should be short (6 or 7 words at most) and the keywords must be near the beginning.

  2. Keywords in URL
    Keywords in URLs increases ranking a lot - e.g. -, where “SEO services” is the keyword phrase you want to rank well for. For this to work well, your URL must accurately describe the contents of your page. You should have some keywords in your page as well.

  3. Keyword density in document text
    Keyword density is an important factor in search engine ranking. For optimal density, you should try to have 3 -7 % for major keywords and 1-2% for minor ones. Keyword density of over 10% is suspicious, reads like spam, and looks more like keyword stuffing, than a naturally written text.

  4. Keywords in anchor text
    The anchor text of inbound links should contain keywords related to your site.

  5. Keywords in headings (< H1>, < H2> etc. tags)
    Keywords in heading tags count a lot if they are relevant to the contents of your webpage.

  6. Keywords in the beginning of a document
    Use your keywords near the beginning of the page. This does not count as much as having keywords in the anchor text, title tag or headings. It is important to have keywords here regardless if the beginning of a document is text or not. For instance, if you use tables the first paragraph of text might be in the second half of the table.

  7. Keywords in tags
    Spiders can't read images but they do read the descriptions in the tag. Make sure to fill in the tag of any pictures you have on your website, with some keywords about them.

  8. Keywords in metatags
    Yahoo! and MSN still rely on keywords in metatags, but it is becoming less and less important to Google. If you are optimizing for Yahoo! or MSN, fill these tags out properly.

  9. Keyword phrases
    Keyword phrases consist of several words – e.g. “SEO services”. Since a lot of keywords are highly competitive, you should also be optimizing for keyphrases. Optimize for lesser use keyphrases is a good strategy because they are not as competitive.

  10. Keyword proximity
    Keyword proximity measures how close to each other the keywords are. It is best if they are immediately one after the other (e.g. “dog food”). For instance, if you have “dog” in the first paragraph and “food” in the third paragraph, this is not as good as having the phrase “dog food” without any other words in between. Keyword proximity is applicable for keyword phrases that consist of 2 or more words.

  11. Secondary keywords
    Because there is so much competition for the popular keywords, it is a good strategy to target secondary keywords. Since there will be less competition for these keywords, your page will get more hits. For instance, “real estate Toronto" might have a thousand times less hits than “real estate” but if you are operating in Toronto, you will get less traffic but it is higher quality and better targeted.

  12. Keyword stemming
    In English, words that stem from the same root (e.g. dog, dogs, doggy, etc.) are considered related and if you have “dog” on your page, you will get hits for “dogs” and “doggy” as well. In other languages keywords stemming is an issue because different words that stem from the same root are not considered to be related, in which case you need to optimize for all of them.

  13. Synonyms
    Use synonyms for your target keywords and then optimize for those as well. This is especially important for sites in English, because search engines are smart enough to handle this. With other language, it might not be as important.

  14. Keyword Mistypes
    A lot of words have common spelling errors and if you know these common misspellings, you can optimize your web page for these as well. (i.e. Christmas and Xmas). This might get you some more traffic but leaves a bad impression so you might want to only do it in the metatags.

  15. Keyword dilution
    When you have a webpage optimze for too many keywords, especially ones unrelated to each other, this will negatively affect the performance of all your keywords.

  16. Keyword stuffing
    Artificially inflated keyword density (10% and over) is keyword stuffing and you risk getting banned from search engines. It also tends to make your post look spammy which is also bad.


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