As you get deeper into web marketing the importance of keywords will gradually begin to dawn on you. Keywords and keyword phrases are at the heart of how every search engine operates.

Why keywords are central to SEM

The way the search engines (SEs) work goes something like this:

1. The SEs send out their “spiders” to “crawl” the web on a regular basis. They are constantly out there crawling away. As they go they analyse and digest the content of new and existing web pages.

2. The SEs analyze the content of these pages primarily by reading the text and other explanatory material called “meta-information” contained in them. They pick out words and combinations of words and “index” this information for future reference.

3. The SEs make certain assumptions about the importance of keywords and phrases found within pages. For example, if a keyword is found in a PAGE TITLE that is considered more important than if it is just found somewhere in the text on the page. If it is found in a MAJOR HEADLINE, the same reasoning applies. If it is found in BOLD TEXT that may also signal its extra importance. And so on.

4. This information (the “indexed” information) is used to populate search results. If someone searches for “Joe Blow plumbing” and your pages make no references to “Joe Blow plumbing” then your pages will not come up in those search results.

5. If you want to be found for specific search terms – for example, “Toledo homes for sale” – then you have to include those search terms (keywords) in your web pages. These are usually called your TARGET KEYWORD PHRASES or your MOST IMPORTANT KEYWORDS.

How does this apply to you?

Are you getting the idea? To win at the search game you have to think like a search engine.

That means you have to clearly spell out what each page is about. Thinking like a search engine means you should not make your visitors read between the lines to figure out what your content is about.

For instance, if a particular web page is about “Punkydoodles Corners homes”, then the search engines should be able to clearly see that and then put that in their database: “This page is about Punkydoodles Corners homes.” In other words, decide on what keywords you want to focus on, and make sure to include them in all the most important places.

Winning at the search game

That makes it important to anticipate what keywords and keyword phrases people will use when searching for your product or service – and then use those exact terms in the text of your pages.

There are important ways to focus your content so the search engines recognize the theme of each page. But to keep it simple, the more you say about your specific target search term, the more likely you are to score well for it.

Common sense, right? Optimizing a page means focusing on a specific term and going out of your way to emphasize that search term in the text of your page.

It isn’t magic. It is common sense. If a page has lots of content focused on a specific keyword it will generally score well for that term.