Identifying Alternate Keywords

Firstly, what is a keyword? A keyword is any word or phrase that can be used to describe the topic of a given website. A keyword is a single word, and a keyphrase is a string of more than one keyword. For example, if your website sells shoes online, the most obvious keyword for that website would be "shoes". An obvious keyphrase might be "comfortable shoes". Each of these would produce a completely different set of search results in search engines, so it is very important that you have the most dominance possible for many variations of keywords and keyphrases.

If you are designing your website alone, or even within a group of people, you will find that there are only a limited number of keywords and keyphrases that you can come up with before running out. But just because you can't think of them doesn't mean that somebody else can't, and if somebody else can think of such keywords and keyphrases, then they are most likely being used to find products and services in search engines, so therefore it is in your best interest to do your research and find out what they are.

Search engines use frequency as a measure of keyword importance. Search engines rate pages with more keywords as more relevant results and score them higher. However, you should not use too many keywords, since most search engines will penalize you for this practice for being seen as an attempt to artificially inflate rankings better known as spamming.

Here is an Example of Keyword Frequency:

"Get the best ABC services provided by ABC Company"

If the pages Title is  the frequency of keyword "ABC" in the Title tag will be two.

Frequency relates only to the exact matches of a keyword. Therefore, frequency of key phrase "ABC services" will be one, because as exact match, this keyword is used only once.

Keyword prominence measures how close the keyword appears of the beginning of the sentence. The closer to the beginning your targeted keyword appears, the higher the prominence will be, with a higher keyword prominence being favorable. For this tag the keyword that appears closer to the beginning of your title is more prominent.

Here is how the prominence is calculated:

  • If a keyword appears at the beginning of an area, its prominence will be 100%.
  • If a keyword appears in the middle of an area, its prominence will be 50%.
  • If the keyword appears at the beginning of the area, then another repetition appears at the end of the area, the prominence would be 50%.
  • If the keyword appears at the end of the area, prominence would be 0%.

There are several ways in which you can find these keywords. You can use a thesaurus, dictionary, or one of the tools available online that compare users searches to identify similarly searched keywords. Once you find these keywords and keyphrases, you will need to make sure you use them on your website. Use them in hyper-links pointing to your website, use them in online promotions, and in any other place you can think of where they fit in.

One of the most useful places to use these alternate keywords is in your "meta description" and "meta keywords" tags, since they are readable by search engines but necessarily dominant on your web page, so they won't look like you are simply "stuffing" keywords to use rankings. Just be sure that you don't use them too excessively. As always, be sure that you use a natural flow of language. This again will prevent penalties from "stuffing" keywords.


Here are some resources that are very useful in finding alternate keywords:

Google Keyword Tool:

Word Tracker:


A very high level of traffic can come from these alternate keywords, so again, it is definitely worth your time to do the research, particularly since online marketing is becoming more competitive by the day! This just might be what you need to get an edge over your competition.

Avoiding the Competition

"Better to be a big fish in a small pond than to be a small fish in a big pond." This proverb can be especially true in the Big Pond that is the Internet, and, more specifically, search engines on the Internet.

When choosing your keywords, knowing how to limit your competition is essential. Time and again, we see users construct their keywords using only one common word, such as "bike," and then they wonder why they aren't getting ranked high in the search engines.

When you choose common words such as "bike," you are typically giving yourself a great amount of unnecessary competition. For instance, at the time of the writing of this article, a search in Google for "bike" returns about 179 million results. Trying to get ranked high in a search term as broad as that is technically achievable, but why put yourself through the burden of competing with 179 million other results when you could just avoid it?

What we also find common is that the same site trying to target a common search term such as "bike" didn't need to, because the site was related to something more specific, such as "bike safety equipment." The search term "bike safety equipment" at the time of the writing of this article returns around 795,000 Google results. 795,000 results is still a lot of competition, but obviously far less then 179 million. In the case of your search terms, the difference could be drastic.

The point is this: If your Website is related to something specific, try targeting that specific keyword search term instead of opening yourself up to a ton of competition by being too broad. The less competition you have, the easier it will be for you to rank high in that search term.

Searches vs. Results

A technique you can use to find an excellent keyword search term is to compare how many searches there were for a keyword to how many search engine results there are for that keyword. One way of doing this is by using a tool such as <https:"" select="" keywordtoolexternal="" "="">Google AdWords's Keyword Tool. Search for your keyword search term, and it will give you the number of people who searched for it over the last month, as well as the average monthly search volume. Please note that Google Adwords only shows the statistics from its database, so these results should be used as an estimate only.

Using the information provided by this tool, you can find out which search terms have the stiffest competition and which search terms are in a sense "untapped."

Localizing Your Keywords

If your Website offers products and/or services locally, you can take advantage of that fact and optimize accordingly. For these examples, let's use a made-up Website for a store called Eddie's Mountain Bikes, which sells mountain bikes in Dallas, Texas. When choosing a keyword search term for this site, the first keyword that comes to mind is probably "mountain bike." Clearly, that word should be plentiful in this Website, but we shouldn't stop there.

Let's say, for example, we did stop there though, and that we targeted "mountain bike" as our main keyword search term for this site. Well, first off, what does our competition look like? At the time of this writing, the keyword "mountain bike" returns more than 26 million results on Google, which is quite a lot of competition. Secondly, let's say that we do end up getting in the top 10 results for "mountain bike" in Google. What are the chances that the people who were looking to buy a mountain bike are going to be in the Dallas area? At the time of the writing of this article, there are a little more than 300 million people in the United States and about 1.2 million in Dallas. This means you have a very, very small chance that the person who just found your site is living in the Dallas area.

Now, what if instead of being so broad and only using "mountain bike," we became more specific? Let's use the keyword search term "mountain bike Dallas." We have dropped from 26 million results to 760,000 results. Also, anyone searching for "mountain bike Dallas" is most likely in the Dallas area. You could also include surrounding areas to Dallas in your keyword search terms. Also take note that you haven't taken yourself out of the running for the keyword search term "mountain bike," because that is still part of "mountain bike Dallas." This means you could potentially be ranked high in both search terms. But if you only targeted "mountain bike" with no trace of Dallas anywhere, you wouldn't be a contender for the Dallas market any longer.

Things to Avoid

When becoming more specific in your keyword search terms, you do want to keep away from becoming too specific. For example, in the case of the Eddie's Mountain Bikes Website, you wouldn't want to get as specific as "mountain bike Dallas Maple Street," because that is not going to be searched for often, if ever. I'd suggest finding a good middle ground between a really broad search term like "bike" and a painfully specific one like "mountain bike Dallas Maple Street."

Make sure you're optimizing your Website for what it is really about. You may find a good keyword search term that has little competition, but don't just use it because of that. Visitors are good, but only if they find what they are looking for on your site. If your site offers products and/or services locally as well as nationally or internationally, make sure you optimize your Website for all of them. The area you want to target more particularly should be what you focus on, but be certain that if you sell products and/or services nationally or internationally that visitors to your site will be able to tell. It would be great to optimize your site locally and increase sales and traffic, but not at the expense of eliminating your other target audiences.

If you're optimizing for a site that has an extremely broad search term, such as "games," then these steps may not be for you. In that case, we would  recommend researching and implementing other search engine optimization methods for your Website.

What Keywords Should I Use for Visitors to Find My Website?

If you are not sure about what words best describe your site, look at it from the user's perspective. How would they find your site? What search words make sense?

The keywords you choose will dictate the success of your web site promotion. It is unrealistic that a young and unrecognized website can compete on rankings with popular destinations on generic key words such as "computers" or "travel". Make sure that your keywords are not too general. General keywords will bring up thousands of listings to searchers and your site is unlikely to be on top.

The fact is that people don't usually use a single word, such as "software" or "dentist" to find what they want in search engines. Users are more likely to search for something more specific like "Accounting Software for Small Business", or "Dentists in Washington D.C." You have a much higher chance of ranking high on specific keywords related to your site.

If you would like to rank high on search engines, avoid excessive keyword repetition (no more than 3 repetitions.) Also, note the practice of keyword derivatives. For example, if you developed a website concerning mutual funds, you might use keywords like invest, invests, investment, and investor. Finally, be sure to include your domain name, company name, and product's name in the keywords.

TIP: Always include at least 10 keywords or phrases that are most relevant to your site (starting from the most important ones) but not more than 25.