I just got a call from a potential client who’s made the step to website localization – which was a total disaster. Yes, the translation was more or less fine, but the translator managed to mess up his target keywords big time.
Talking with this customer, I suddenly realized that this guy didn’t have a clue not only about the problems surrounding multinational keywords, much less about the keywords in his own language. So I thought it was about time to start discussing in this blog the keyword localization. But first, for this type of people, I should start with the really basic stuff before moving on to more complex aspects.
What are Keywords?
People search all the time for something on the Internet. And the search volume is huge. Comscore has reported 131 billion searches per month worldwide (December 2009), with a growth of 46% over the previous year. Twitter (not on the previous list) claims 19 billion searches per month, or 800 million searches per day.
So how do people search? They go to a search engine and type in the words that describe what they are looking for. These terms are what we call keywords. What we want now is that when the user searches for those words, our page pops us as the first one in the search engines.
Long Tail Keywords
The fact is, that many keywords are very sought-after, and the competition is fierce. The most searched keywords are also the most coveted, and the keyword competition is fierce. Hence that it is important to perform keyword research, so as to find out a set of keywords for which it is relatively easy to rank, or at least where there is relatively little competition. And that is where long tail keywords come in.
Curiously enough, only about 20% of the searches consist of a single word, and 80% are combinations of two or more words containing the key term. Statistically, the frequency distribution of the different related keywords shows that there are only a few keywords that are used very often, and then other related search terms using that same word that appear very infrequently. The rare search terms in this frequency distribution are called long tail keywords because they appear in the tail of this distribution curve (to the right in the figure below).
Thus, “widgets” might be a very frequent keyword, but “blue widgets” is less frequent. “Square blue widgets in Iowa” is likely to be quite infrequent – it’s part of the long tail. Scoring for “widgets” will be difficult, and ads will be expensive, even if there is a lot of traffic. But the long tail keyword, even if it has not so much traffic, will also have lower advertising costs and a much lower competition. It is for this reason that smart SEO targets first for the long tail keywords that include their master keyword.
Now, our page is not going to appear by miracle on top of the search engines. We need to target those keywords, which means that we have to make that the search engines consider that our page is the very best match when a user search for this particular keyword. For this purpose, we need to sprinkle our keyword though the text (but not too much, otherwise you will be penalized by the search engines for keyword stuffing).
For the On-Page SEO, keywords can be targeted by including them in the following locations:
- Keyword in the domain name (e.g. www.mykeyword.com)
- Keyword in the Page name (e.g., mykeyword.html)
- Keyword in URL (e.g. www.mydomain.com/mykeyword/related-keyword.html)
- Keyword in the “Title” tag, preferably at the beginning
- Keyword in the “Description” Meta-tag
- Keyword in tje “Keyword” meta-tag. Google does not use it, but others do.
- Keywords in the H1, H2 and H3 titles
- Keywords in the text body
- Keywords in the “alt” tags
- Keywords highlighted with strong or italic
- Keywords in bigger font
- Keywords in the anchor of internal links
Note that in all cases, the closer the keywords are to the beginning, the better.
In the next post, I’ll discuss off-page SEO for specific keywords, how to search for keywords and how to create a keyword strategy. Then I’ll discuss why all this is important for multinational SEO.