Finding and using the right keywords is an absolute essential to succes on the internet. In fact, I am hard pressed to think of any other aspect of web marketing that is more important.

Which brings me to the purpose of this article. In one respect, I am slightly hesitant to post it because it chronicles my own mistakes when I began writing this blog several years ago. So in that sense, this article is a bit of a cautionary tale.

On the other hand, it is also instructional because it gives me a chance to explain what I learned from my mistakes and the things I know now about using keywords in web marketing.

When I started this blog back in 2006, I began with the primary goal of attracting more copywriting clients. I considered myself a generalist and was willing to take on any and all copywriting assignments.

In my naivity I thought I knew all I need to know about using keywords. My one and only keyword at the time was "Freelance Copywriter." Every post I wrote for this blog began with the title "Freelance Copywriter Secrets ___" and I also sought ways to insert the phrase several times in each article.

So as a result, I was tremendously excited when a few months later I found myself on the third page of Google when one did a search for "freelance copywriter."

I assumed that I was well on the way to conquering the search engine mountain and I just knew that it was only a matter of time before I was at the very top of Big G.

Well some of you can no doubt guess the rest. I never did make it to the front page of Google for my one and only keyword because there is so much competition for that phrase.

I knew nothing (at the time) about long tail keywords. I didn't know why all websites should target several related keywords instead of just one.

But I have learned. I learned that long tail keywords (ie search terms that are four or more words long) are easier to conquer than short, highly competitive keywords.

I have learned that the person who does a search for a phrase like "business case study writer in Texas" is much more focused than the person who types in one or two words. I have also learned that such a person who makes that highly focused a search is probably hundreds of times more likely to do business with the companies he or she finds than the person searching with a vague, general keyword.

Moreover, Google is more likely to start moving your site up the rankings on your primary keyword when it sees that your site is optimized for other, but related, keywords.

And then there was my external linking strategy. I worked hard to write articles and comments on other blogs that linked backed to my site. But I made the following two mistakes with my inbound links:

  1. I created links that either targeted my name or the name of this website ("dynamic copywriting"), and
  2. I seldom linked to any place on this site except the home page.

(By the way, I am a little shocked that I am really admitting all this. lol I hope I don't lose future business by explaining what a dolt I was. But then, explaining how not to do something is often far more instructional than just telling how.)

Both of those are really bad linking stratagies. First, I would have had much more success embedding my keywords into these links, so that a person would see, for example, a clickable blue link that said "website copywriting" that would have brought him or her to this site.

That would have told Google that my site had something to do with "website copywriting." Over time, if I had furthered this technique using other longer tail keywords related to website copywriting, I would have alerted Google that this site was relevant to many different keywords.

Google is after all a computer program that searches all over the web to find sites that pertain to various topics. But links that merely target a person's name or the title of the website tell Google very little of what the site is about. Only keywords will do this job.

Secondly, Google quickly dismisses inbound links that are only pointed to the main page of a website. These links should point to specific articles within the site that are related to the inbound keyword. And those articles should likewise be optimized for that same keyword by including the keyword in the title and in several places throughout the text.

This tells Google that the site has depth and covers a variety of related topics in detail. That demonstrates to Google that such a site is an "authority site" on its subject matter.

All this is to say that I had to learn search engine optimization in part by trial and error. And I am still learning.

Of course I have been working hard to get this site better optimized, but it takes a lot to turn the Titanic around. The task has been complicated by the fact that I am no longer a generalist, but am more focused on writing web content and search engine optimization.

The lesson here for other website owners is to pay careful attention to the keywords that relate to your business. Both internal and external keyword strategies are essential to getting high rankings by Google.

I hope you find this helpful as you build and develop your own sites. I suspect I am not the only website owner that has had to learn from mistakes, but I would be interested to hear comments on what lessons you have learned about search engine optimization.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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Hi charles,

Thank you for the post. You cover a lot of mistakes that a beginner can make. Certainly, the use of the anchor text is the main mistake that the majority of people make. And the correct use of the anchor text on links can reward with very good results.



8:35 AM

Thanks for sharing your mistakes so we can learn from them.

I've never heard it called "keyword malpractice." That's funny!

11:13 AM

Her own terminology. Acceptable and very unique. Really catch single attention. :)

6:36 AM

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