Optimizing Web-Sites for High Search Engine Ranking Part 3 - Evaluating Keywords for Your Web Site

Keyword selection is perhaps the single most important and critical step in optimizing any web-site. After all, optimization means organizing your web-site in such a way that it ranks high in search engine result on searching by given keywords. Obviously, these given keywords must have the capability to draw quality visitors to your web-site. Quality visitor here means target audience of the web-site - your buyers/customers.

How to select potential keywords in a objective way using various keyword selection tools have been discussed in a previous article (Keywords that Attract More Buyers to a Web-Site ). In this article - we discuss how to evaluate selected keywords for maximum benefit for your web-site

Judging Keyword Effectiveness

For best result, one should focus on few keywords rather than a long list. There's very intense global competition for top position in search engines. Chasing goals that are too ambitious within a short time span may be extremely difficult, if not impossible. One should objectively analyze one's strength and select an attainable target.

There are a few basic guidelines for judging effectiveness of a keyword. These are:

Popular is not necessarily Better

Popularity of a keyword is measured by its actual usage in search engines. We have learnt how to measure popularity of a keyword in a previous article. It is an established fact that some keywords are more popular than others though it is difficult to ascribe a specific reason for such popularity. For example, apparel as a keyword is 10 times more popular than garments though both are synonymous. Sanity demands that you should go by people's choice and select popular keywords as these are more likely to be used by your customers in search engines.

However, there's another factor that you must take into account - Competition . More popular keywords will be more in use and there will be fierce competition among web-sites to rank high for popular keywords. It may take long time and significant amount of money for a newly created web-site to rank high in such cases. On the other hand, one may select a less popular keyword where competition is low and be able to start attracting visitors quickly.

For example - a quick look at keywords used during October 2005 in Overture search engine reveals following figures:

fashion jewelry is a very popular keyword that was used 1,98,723 times during December 2005, followed by fine jewelry - 85,699 times. However, a search of Google using those keywords brought more than 35 million web-sites for fashion jewelry and over 40 million for fine jewelry

On the other hand beaded jewelry was used 15,992 times but Google search brought only 7 million web-sites for the keyword. There are other ways of quantifying competition or keyword effectiveness such as inbound links, PageRank etc. In a nutshell, one should look for smart measures that bring quality traffic at the earliest.

For business web-sites - profitable optimization is one that produces best Return on Investment (ROI) for given time and money.

Select Keywords that Sell

All keywords do not bring same kind of visitors. Some keywords have the capability to draw quality visitors who may quickly become your customer while others may bring lot of traffic but with poor visitor-to-customer conversion ratio.

For a business web-site that aspires to sell products or service - its always better to have a moderate but steady flow of quality traffic with high conversion ratio than high rate of non-paying public. Your choice of keyword plays a significant role on kind of traffic your web-site receives.

To illustrate this point - let's take the example of a company manufacturing packaging materials.

As per Overture Keyword Selector Tool - some popular keywords relating to packaging are:

Keyword Usage
packaging 59,766
custom packaging 12,099
packaging supply 11,253
packaging material 10,497
packaging service 8953
food packaging 4361
contract packaging 3910
packaging solution 3304
packaging equipment 3054
packaging design 2738
packaging machinery 2414
packaging machine 2160
packaging tape 1645
packaging company 1597
packaging box 1477
packaging store 1477
cosmetic packaging 1356
packaging jobs 428
packaging adhesive 346
packaging distributor 335

By far - packaging is the most popular keyword, nearly 5 times more popular than its nearest competitor. However, difficulty with this keyword are two fold:

  1. More competition - as explained above

  2. Draws heterogeneous crowd - conversion rate low

People searching with the keyword packaging may not necessarily be looking for packaging materials. In reality - they may be students looking for information on packaging, job seekers hunting for better pasture, small business owners searching for a packaging and transport company or even a housewife looking for information on gift packaging ! Though number of visitors that this keyword can attract may be high, visitor-to-customer ratio, obviously, will be very low.

On the other hand, specific keyword like packaging tape, packaging box or packaging adhesive may not be able to attract as many visitors but the conversion ratio will certainly be higher.


As they say, nothing is permanent in life except death and tax. So does your keywords - they should also change with time and nature of your business. Keep an alert eye on performance of existing keywords and never hesitate to change whenever required.

Happy and Productive Surfing

Dr. Amit K Chatterjee

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 6, Issue 20 ; February 3' 2006

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at amit@infobanc.com )

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