We touched upon the keywords, and the importance of planning and research required, briefly in the earlier chapter. The basic idea of choosing the keywords before developing the content is that it is a lot easier to write around the keywords naturally, rather than writing the content and then trying to fit in the keywords, which in all probability will disturb the flow and the language of your content.
Here we would like to remind you, again, that the "keywords tool" would be covered in greater detail in the "Handy Tools" Chapter. There are some points that need to be kept in mind while selecting keywords for your website, which are as follows:
Single word keywords have a lot of competition going for them, so when you are starting out it is advisable to go for phrases, i.e. keywords comprising two or more words. The idea is simple; you are making your keywords more specific to the content and are targeting users who are more focussed on their search. For example, a search for the phrase "Indian Content Writer" will deliver more targeted results than just "content writer" for which the entire global community is competing. If your target audience is the Indian population you will do much better by using the earlier keyword. Similarly "Red Hat" does better than "Hat" and "Action thriller novel" will do better than "novel". However, you should refrain from using a single word multiple times. For example, your list of keywords should not look like, Indian content writer, Content writer, Indian, writer and Indian Writer. Search engines usually penalise this kind of word repetition in the keywords.
Do not waste your time and space using multiple keywords as variation of the same word like game, games, gaming, etc. The search engines are smart enough to recognise the relevancy.
In addition to the primary keyword or phrase, look for similar variations of the keyword; these are the secondary keywords, which will help you to structure the article without disturbing the flow. There are times when you will not be able to use the keyword exactly in your content due to lingual constraints. Then there are times when your user may be looking for what you have, but the word he uses is slightly off the mark, for example he might look for a "display" and your keyword is "monitor". The secondary keywords can actually help in overcoming these issues; just make sure that they are strongly related to the theme of the content.
The density of the keywords in your content is a factor towards the ranking of the page. There is no fixed formula for this, which is actually good for the content writer otherwise the poor fellow will mess up the content. The density should ideally be kept between 5-15% for all the keywords combined and definitely not more than 5-6% per keyword. Also remember that the keywords should definitely appear towards the top of the content, i.e. the first paragraph and then used through the content as required. If you are using more than one keyword for a page try to distribute them in the content and not have them cluttered together.
Use of Semantic mark-up: Semantic mark-up is the HTML, which highlights the content meaning rather than content presentation. For example, if you use Bold and Italic words in your text, they are given the due importance provided the words have relevance to the page content. One would normally use the tag for italics. But the tag is for presentation purpose and tells the browser that the content within the tag needs to be italicised. On the other hand tag tells the search engine that emphasis is laid on the words within the tags.
Proximity of Keywords and Order: While using more than two keywords, the keywords appearing next to each other will get you the best results. Similarly, if you are using a phrase, the order in which the words appear in the user query make a difference. For example, if your keyword (phrase) is "Mumbai Monsoons" and someone searches for "Monsoons Mumbai" your page will be listed lower than the page using the latter keyword. It is important to anticipate what a normal user of the Internet will search for. Talking of proximity, keep another thing in mind; two perfectly regular and clean keywords might join together to make an objectionable word. For example the words cream and pie end up creating something entirely different when used next to each other. It is not your fault if you are writing about a recipe, but you may still be penalised if the words end up next to each other.
Uses of Stop words in Keywords: Stop words are those, which the search engines ignore during its indexing and query process. This is done to save space on the server as also to make the searches faster. When the search engine comes across a multiple word or a phrase query, it has to run through its index for each word and then iterate the results to present the most relevant pages. The search engines normally ignore words which will not make a substantial difference to the outcome of the search process, words like as, be, when, where, of, etc. Since the search engine is going to ignore these words, it does not make any sense to use these words in the keywords or phrases, does it?
User-generated content: Some websites, which may include Blogs, community websites, directories, forums, etc., have a lot of user-generated content. In such cases, it is not possible for them to take care of the keywords, description, title tags to be filled into the head section and hence they include the requirement in the form which they make available to the user and expect them to fill it up. This field may be described as keywords, tags, or labels. Do not ignore these if you want to have your pages ranked higher.