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What Are Keywords?

A keyword is simply a need, want, desire, or curiosity expressed in the form of a few words.

You've been using and thinking in terms of keywords (though you may never have thought of it that way!) since you began to speak.

Your first keywords may have been "mommy" and "daddy" which may have represented the people closest to you. As you got older and more sophisticated, your keyword universe evolved to include things like "toys", "potty", "blue", doggie", "water", "candy" and "Big Bird" (if you came from the Mr. Rogers era). You began to associate objects, actions, people, and personalities with specific keywords as you learned to speak.

As you grew up, you learned to use more keywords. The objects around you, the people in your life, your feelings, your belongings, the things you wanted and the places you wanted to go were all described with words.

You also learned to classify things. Mom, Dad, your 1st grade teacher, and Mr., Rogers were all members of the class known as people. You may have further classified them into relatives, teachers, or people on TV. Your favorite fire truck, the Frisbee you played with or the stuffed animals you had may have been all considered toys. Chances are you associated one (or more) specific words or phrases with each individual object, person, feeling, or experience you had. The way you described things was probably unique to you. Not everyone used the same words to describe the same things. What you may have called food, your parents may have called candy. They probably tried to limit your intake.

You used keywords every day before the web and search engines like Google evolved. You needed them to function in the world, to communicate your thoughts, your ideas, your wants, and merely to express yourself. You already know a lot more about search engine marketing than you think.

Anticipating how people think of the products, services, and information represented on your website is all keyword research is. Its not high tech; there is nothing mysterious about it. Just as your parents may not have agreed that candy was in fact food, your target audience may not think of your products and services the same way you do. You'll be able to make some educated guesses but success in keyword marketing is rarely luck. You'll need to use research tools like the Overture keyword tool (free), Google keyword suggestion tool (free), or WordTracker (offers a variety of paid subscription options).

When determining keyword for your website, you'll want to target very specific terms like product names (Sony Trinitron Atomic 10.20 - a model of skis), specific classes of products (television sets, HD TVs, flat screen TVs, flat screen televisions, ski equipment, downhill skis), and in some cases higher level, more general keyword classifications (home entertainment systems, electronics, Sony, sporting goods, skis).

Keyword research should be the first thing you do when building a website. Before you even think of starting to build the site you need to identify keywords around which your site will be built. You've by no means lost the battle if you built your site without any thought given to keywords but it is always easier to do things right the first time. Retrofitting keywords into the copy of an existing website can be quite a chore.

Now that you know what keywords are, the articles on keyword wireframing, and keyword optimization will help you figure out how to organize your site around keywords and the how to use them in specific HTML tags on individual web pages of your site.

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