Search engines and business directories basically operate in the same fashion. When working offline, you go to your business directory and it requests you for what category. Search engines act in the same way except businesses are not listed by category, but by keywords. The determining factor for your site's ranking in the search engines is your keyword or keyword phrases. This is done primarily by search engines crawling your site totaling up and picking the most nouns and pronouns and classifying the relevancy of your website.
The most important step in marketing your site for search engines is building a list of relevant and reviewed keywords. Expect to spend many hours and patience developing your list of keywords. Patience is a value here it could take days and from there it is an ongoing process.
First identify your target market. Try to envision what the person would put in the search engine to get your business. Put a name or job title to your targeted audience. Where would your target audience perform their search from home or office? Or both?
Write down as many keywords you think your target audience will use to find your service or product. Enter them into a spreadsheet master list file such as excel.
Next look at your log files. They are files that the server keeps of each person who visits your web site. This helpful information is a great place to look for other keywords. Using a log file analyzer or web analytics, you can find out which search engines the visitor come from, what browser they used, what time of day as well as the keyword used to find your site.
Now take your keyword list and enter your keywords in the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Look at the Meta tags of the top 10 ranked sites. Search the title, description and keyword tags of these sites. If they have good keywords that apply to your site, add them to your list.
From here you plug your keywords in to keyword tools. Keyword selectors give you the number of searches for the keyword you submit. It also provides associated keyword combinations. To begin, the first tool I recommend is the Yahoo! Search Marketing tool. Enter each keyword in to the search box. This may take some time to do manually. When writing down new keywords, keep track of the monthly queries for each keyword. This will be useful later when deciding which keywords to keep.
Like the Yahoo! Search Marketing Keyword Selector Tool, Google offers another but different keyword tool as part of their AdWords program. Google AdWords Keyword Tool shares the number of monthly searches and offer keywords into 3 groups: More Specific Keywords, Expanded Broad Matches, and Additional Keywords to Consider. This segmentation is often very helpful in identifying keywords not found in brainstorming, log file analysis and the Yahoo! Search Marketing Keyword Selector Tool. Add these new keywords to the master keyword list.
Your list is completely complete at this point but there is another keyword tool you should use from WordTracker. WordTracker is a Meta Search Engine that pulls data from many other search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and other search engines. The general idea is to compile this data from multiple sources into a set of search results on its site in a master list.
The final step in building a keyword list for your website is to review each keyword and decide if it is a targeted keyword. The keywords should be relevant to the site, be reasonably popular, and have a high likelihood of converting well.