Once you have decided which keywords you want to use for your business website, you need to think about where in the site these are going to be placed for best effect. Ultimately, your keywords are going to serve two very different purposes – informing customers of what your website is all about, and allowing the search engines to index your content.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the practice of making your website suitable for search engines and allowing those search engines’ crawlers to correctly find and return your site to customers, and getting your site as high as possible in the search engines’ results. Keywords play a vital part in SEO, and therefore need to be used correctly. They should appear within your website’s content, as well as in off-page elements such as alt tags and meta data. An alt tag is the text used to describe each image on your website, allowing them to be read by crawlers and by screen reader technology, while meta data sits behind the page and plays a part in indexing, giving search engines a good idea of the content of your page.
Your chosen keywords should be written naturally into your website content – after all, customers will be reading the words on your website, so overusing the keyword phrases or forcing them into the text will not make the site read very well. The keywords you use should be specific to each page, with your pages ideally focusing on just two or three terms each. Repeating the words is important – it makes the term stand out to customers and search engines – but overusing them can harm your SEO chances, as many search engines penalise sites that appear to be trying to ‘cheat’ their ranking systems by filling their sites with keywords. Three or four repetitions, which occur naturally throughout the page, is commonly considered to be best SEO practice.
Generally speaking, the higher a keyword phrase is on a page, the more important it is and the higher it will rank for that phrase on search engines. Having the phrase in your website footer may not be noticed by crawlers and customers, but placing it in your first few sentences will show what your page is all about straight away: even better, having the phrase in your page title gives it a great deal of importance and a clear indication of what the page contains. The ‘highest’ element of your webpages will be the page URLs (the addresses in the bar at the top) – using the strongest keyword for each page in the URL will show that your site is relevant to people searching these terms, and will see the page returned by the search engines for that term.