Originally published in YNot Web’s “What Now” Newsletter, Volume 2. Issue 2.
  • Make keywords Relevant. Stick with words related to your core business or products.
  • Check Keyword Popularity: Try to rank well on the most popular terms, but don’t forget that sometimes your best bet and biggest payoff are keywords and phrases that are little farther down the list. Use Keyword Popularity Tools to get objective information on true popularity.
  • Use 2 – 3 word phrases: Research has shown that most people use phrases of 2 to 3 keywords when searching.
  • Focus on 2-3 keywords per page: Don’t try to optimize your home page for every keyword. Spread out the related keywords on other pages of your site, using the most relevant for each page.

Keywords: More than a META
Once you select your keywords, make them truly effective by using them in more than the keyword META tag. Include your keywords in these places to improve your search engine positioning:

  • Always include keywords in your content, preferably your first text paragraph as well as the Header (H1, H2) tags.
  • Include your main keywords in your description meta as well as the TITLE tag of your page.
  • Register a domain with your keyword phrase.
  • Name your directories after your key phrases.
  • Name page and graphic files after keywords (i.e. keyword.htm, keyword.gif)
  • Use keywords in your image Alt text

Finding Your Best Keywords

  • Brainstorm! Sit down for several minutes and write down whatever keywords or phrases come to mind. Ask family and friends or even clients what words and phrases they would use to find a product or service like yours.
  • Use the long and short form of words, e.g. consult, consulting, and consultants.
  • Look in the keywords META tags and page titles of other web sites. See what keywords your competitors use.
  • Look at newsgroups, mailing lists, and discussion groups on similar subjects to make sure you haven’t missed any keywords.
  • Do not forget misspelled words. People often misspell words when they enter their search terms.
  • If you cater to a particular geographic area, remember to include that in your keyword list. Use your city, area code and zip codes to drive targetted traffic to your site.
  • Research! Look at what people are actually searching for on the various engines and get more phrases for your list. Check the Keyword Popularity tools to help you do this. Remember that people often misspell words, use different word forms, and may be looking for a whole lot of different stuff all related to your products.

These online tools can help you determine keyword popularity:
YNot Web Keyword Popularity Tool
Google AdWords Keyword Suggestions
Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool
WordTracker Service

EDIT: These tools have been deprecated since this article was written, so all links are removed.