Keywords For Better Search Engine Results

Keep the search engines happy!

Website traffic received from people finding you in search engine and directory listings is a beautiful thing. Not only is it cheaper than advertising, you automatically have motivated prospects, assuming the search term they entered is the main topic of the page on your site that they land on. It’s many times more difficult to rank on the first three pages of results than it was just a couple years ago, due to the exponential growth of the web. Use every tool at your disposal to shoot for the top!

Generate a list of keywords

Keywords and keyword phrases are the “search terms” entered into Yahoo or Google or any other listing of sites. If your site is built to satisfy human visitors, you’re off to a good start with the search engines as well, but a little tweaking can squeeze out a lot more visitors. Any word or phrase that someone may use to refer to a subject should be considered as part of the text in the page(s) discussing it. When keywords are part of your text, you have a chance of appearing in search engine results for those keywords. When you don’t specifically include them in your text, you’ll be out in the cold.

If there are lots of possibilities, the most popular and targeted words or expressions should be incorporated to increase your odds for the most traffic possible. For example, a website for “used cars” should consider
various synonyms such as “autos”, “automobiles”, “sedans”, “pre-owned cars”, and particular makes and models. Any one page could use several terms interchangeably or distinct pages could be created for each term. Your home page can contain more general terms and supporting pages will target more specifics.

Analysis of “key phrases” is a critical step for both SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing = Pay Per Click marketing) so it is doubly important. Both entail determining what potential customers type when looking for information and using those exact words and phrases to increase visibility in the search results for the most relevant terms for your business. Yes, web surfers help you write your text!

Generate a list of your keywords, considering technical terms, common usage, and even slang terms and phrases since different people will search for your product in different ways. Prior to finalizing your text, research, brainstorm, visit other websites, check a thesaurus for synonyms, ask your friends and definitely use tools such as the Google Keyword Tool. For many sites, your state or city or town can be an important keyword, since surfers may type in a search for “buy cars in Boston”.

The Google Keyword Tool is the top device for helping you climb the charts, and is free! Enter what you feel is a generic phrase into the Keyword Variations Tab and your results are the most important terms (when ranked by ‘search volume’) for that topic which searchers use to describe it. For pay per click advertising, it even shows the terms where there is the greatest and least competition.

Google Traffic Estimator is also free and uses historical results to predict traffic for selected phrases. WordTracker is another popular tool for determining keywords. Abakus Topword Key Phrase Density checker can also assist with creation of “Title” and “META tags”. These are important coded instructions that appear in the invisible, or HEAD section of a web page and are used by Search Engines to help “index” the page in appropriate SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages). Finally, SEObook website provides a search volume comparison tool.

Search term comparison is a great way to compare popularity of terms and company names, so you can concentrate on including the terms most likely to be searched for. Use the free tool: Google Trends.
Choose your favorite tools and go ahead and ask your customers what they search for!

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Case Study: PoconoCommuter: Riding Frustration to Success

Born of Frustration

Did you know that the Poconos are a suburb of New York City? Few people do. But, there are thousands of commuters who sacrifice a three-hour round trip to blend the salaries of Manhattan with the actual houses on multiple acres of land in Pennsylvania. It is a tough life, and one commuter decided to speak his mind.

PoconoCommuter.com started as a way for Wayne Meyers, the website’s founder, to vent his frustration at what had become a brutal lifestyle. He spent more than ninety minutes going to work each day, and the same amount of time on the bus home. What Meyers did not realize was that he was not alone. In fact, frustrated residents of Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Long Island decided to work for their weekends by accepting long commutes in trade for lavish but affordable homes.

Meyers’ website started as a simply coded, flat website featuring little other than his observations on the daily grind to Manhattan and a message board for his fellow commuters. It grew into a “must see” for the masses who shared his frustration, and the traffic on the message board grew. PoconoCommuter.com has grown into the lives of its visitors, even leading to biannual picnics among its readers!

How PoconoCommuter.com Started

Commuters in any major city are intimately familiar with the agony of sitting in traffic jams, moving in inches per hour, and wondering if the gridlock will ever break. You will hear the same stories from people in Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and elsewhere. The problem is becoming universal. The Boston Globe noted that the class of “extreme commuters” – people with daily one-way commutes of ninety minutes or more – is growing rapidly (full article).

Meyers decided to patch together a simple website to express his frustration with this situation. Originally developed with basic HTML, a pinkish background, and an incredibly simple page layout, PoconoCommuter.com chronicled the woes of the extreme commute from Stroudsburg, PA to Manhattan. The website required hardly any investment, and it served no revenue-generating purpose. It simply represented a way for a frustrated citizen to be heard.

That changed quickly.

PoconoCommuter.com grew into the central meeting place on the web for the multitude of Pennsylvanians who shared Meyers’ concerns. Traffic grew wildly, and advertisers approached PoconoCommuter.com for the chance to promote their companies. Meyers, having no serious intention of turning PoconoCommuter.com into a profit machine, offered reasonable rates for ad placement, and interest in his website by advertisers grew rapidly as well.

Reinforcing the Mission

PoconoCommuter.com is a community-focused website, existing strictly for the purpose of helping 10-thousand people feel better about their commutes (complete article). Despite increasing financial success, Meyers elected to reinforce the reason for which PoconoCommuter.com was launched. In 2005, he organized the website as a non-profit entity. With this decision, Meyers made it quite clear that his only interest was to serve the community.

Also in 2005, PoconoCommuter.com executed an extremely simple redesign, essentially changing the color-scheme of the website. Instead of remaining pink, the site adopted a palette anchored in green, based on that used by PoconoRecord.com, the community newspaper’s website. Adopting the “local colors” reinforced PoconoCommuter.com’s focus on the community. The website endeavored to become intertwined with the look and feel of the community that it served.

A Real Online Community

With more than 500-thousand page views per month for a relatively small community, PoconoCommuter.com demonstrates the ability of the web to bring people together. Sophisticated programming and eye-catching graphics help a website succeed, but they are not always essential. Sometimes, the point of a website is sufficient to generate interest.

PoconoCommuter.com does not succeed according to the standards traditionally used to measure online businesses. Its Alexa rating is just under 1 million. The website generates approximately six-hundred-thousand page views per month. While advertising rates are kept private, PoconoCommuter.com likely is not generating a significant rate per thousand impressions (CPM).

“Then how can you call it a success?”, you ask.

Meyers’ ambition for PoconoCommuter.com was not to generate a profit, as he demonstrated by organizing as a non-profit in 2005. Instead, he wanted to create an online community, to bring together people with similar interests. An estimated 10-thousand commuters trek to Manhattan from the Poconos every day. This means that the average Pocono commuter views PoconoCommuter.com sixty times a month, i.e. twice a day. Simply put, the average Pocono commuter visits PoconoCommuter.com in the morning and in the evening – corresponding to the schlep to work and the schlep home.

That truly constitutes proof of success.

Lessons for Small Businesses

PoconoCommuter.com does not deploy sophisticated Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies, nor does it pepper the web with banner ads or text link advertisements (such as Google AdWords). Instead, PoconoCommuter.com grew rapidly through word of mouth among the members of its core market. By focusing on its mission, PoconoCommuter.com became a business success virtually overnight. The website delivers pertinent content that is apparently vital to its readers; it has become the staple of their professional lives.

Of course, small business owners do not have the luxury of not caring about profits. Unlike Meyers, we rely on the revenue generated by our companies. While we cannot embrace his attitude toward profits, we can apply some of the techniques he used in becoming an important part of his readers’ lives. PoconoCommuter.com delivers a timely and important product to the commuters of the Pocono region in Pennsylvania. He gives his customers some that matters to them, something of considerable value. Consequently, he owns his market.

Small businesses would benefit from a similar approach to their markets, especially on the web. Customers measure your success based on their ability to satisfy their wants and needs through you. Too many online businesses focus on Alexa rankings, monthly unique visitors, and daily page views. Alternatively, emphasizing the ability of customers to solve a problem or meet a need through your website will translate to financial success for you as well as “consumer” success for them. As you become a part of your customers’ lives, success is virtually assured.

Copyright 2006 Daniel Scheff

What’s Great About Boston?

Boston is a unique place to visit. It’s a place full of people coming from different parts of the world who, in time, have made it their home. These include the Irish, the Italians, West Indians, Haitians, Vietnamese, Jews and several others. Because of this, it has become a place with a strong cultural identity that has made its mark in the country intellectually, technologically and politically together with the rest of the oldest cities in the country.

Intellectually, Boston is considered as “The Athens of America” due to its teaching and research activities. In fact, there are about 100 colleges and universities currently situated in the city; much of which is in Greater Boston area with approximately 250,000 college students enrolled in two of its well-known schools namely Boston University and Cambridge University. Other well-known universities in the area include Northeastern University in Fenway which is known for its concentration in Business and Health Science as well as its cooperative education program, Suffolk University located in Beacon Hill which is popular for its law school and business programs, and Boston College in Boston-Newton border which is a private Catholic Jesuit university, and Boston College in Boston-Newton border which is a private Catholic Jesuit University along with several conservatories and art schools to mention a few. These schools all range in area size, population size and fields of concentration to help accommodate people with different interests and abilities making the city famous for its academic wealth.

Technically, the city is hub for biotechnology because of its growing number of technological companies. These include companies such as 3 Media Web Solutions that focus on computer integrated systems design, 3rd Element which is inclined to computer processing and data preparation and processing services, and 451 Group which provides information retrieval services. Other companies in the area that have contributed to the city’s economic growth include those that provide financial services like Fidelity Investments which helped set the trend for mutual funds in 1980s making Boston one of the top US financial cities, those that provide publishing units such as Little Brown and Company, and many others. All of which have helped boost the economy of the city building it into a powerful metropolis.

Politically, it’s a city that plays a major part in state politics. It’s a very active city owning particularly several properties that are related to the US federal government like the John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building and the Thomas P. O’Neill Federal Building. It also houses the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (First District of the Federal Reserve). Moreover, it has a strong mayor-council government where its mayor is given extensive executive powers for four years straight. All of these identify the city as an active player in politics.

Boston is indeed a unique place to visit for its variety in culture aided by time has presented it with opportunities for growth and development. The diversity has helped unify the people in creating a unique cultural identity intellectually, technically and politically.