Understanding Search

Understanding Keywords in  Ranking

The importance of keywords in ranking well in search

Getting your website ranking well means understanding what Google is looking for on the page and within the entire website. First of all the website has to be discovered by Googlebots, which they do through following links from other websites, hence the importance of placing links to your website in directories.


A link is viewed as a “vote” for a page,  although directories are low value links. The highest value links are .edu and .gov links and websites with high authority, like The Times or the BBC. But a listing in a well organised directory that has high authority in your niche is probably the best that most website owners can hope for. If your domain name contains an important keyword so much the better for website ranking.

Internal Links

Internal linking is a great opportunity to introduce a killer keyword phrase which the bots will note. Make sure there is a legitimate reason for the link and don’t overdo it – if Google thinks you are trying to game them you’re in trouble. Websites can rank just on the strength of words used in linking to a page. I’m based in Somerset so a useful link for me is websites for local businesses in Somerset


These are the words which you hope to be found for. The bots get their understanding of the page from these keywords and should be used carefully; bots can only see the code, not the page human visitors see. Keyword usage is  very important in establishing the purpose of your page and relevancy to a search query. Consider all these factors:-

  • How often does the word appear on a page – use a keyword density tool to check for keywords and key phrases http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/  There is no ideal number, what is critical is that the content reads well, that there isn’t the impression of keywords being crammed in wherever possible 
  • Does the keyword appear in the page title and the url (page address)?
  • Is the keyword used for headings and/or sub-headings?
  • Is it used in image descriptions and alternative text?
  • Does it appear in the meta description (disregard the meta keywords tag, the search engines have been ignoring it for years)?
  • Are there synonyms – e.g. “sites” for “websites”?
  • Keep each page to a specific topic or closely related topics

It’s amazing how many websites and pages fail to convey the purpose of the site to the bots. Running the keyword tool could surprise you.

Two Hundred Ranking Factors

We only know a small handful of the ranking factors that Google uses but know that keywords are critical. Take this example of a rebuilt website that ignored the importance of keywords. You can see that visitor numbers fell off a cliff when the new designer didn’t bother to work hard at explaining the page to the bots. Instead they sold expensive SEO services to the client which led to occasional peaks but never repeated the original success of the organic rankings.

Whether you are building your own website or hiring someone to do so, make sure that keyword and keyphrase usage is right at the heart of the website as a whole and every page.

Maggie Tattersall

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