There are two questions that come up a lot whenever I speak at a conference. The first is whether I will give an autograph, the second is what makes a good keyword. The answer to the first is yes, the answer to the second is a bit more complicated.
A keyword is used by people when they are trying to find something using a search engine like Ask or Hotbot. The user enters the word into the search box, and then the search engine machine takes the word and finds information about it. Think about the search engine like an amazing lock that opens millions of doors, and the keyword as a word that is a key to just one of those doors. When that key is put into the searcher, it unlocks the door and allows the user to get the information that they want.
Knowing which keyword is right for your website is a fairly complex process and when I am providing a keyword for a website, it can take a lot of work to thoroughly investigate the various semantic paths that are possible. For a website that sells a particular product, it is important to look at the various different products on the website. I use a range of special tools including dictionary.com and the thesaurus on Microsoft Word (power tip: highlight the word and press <shift>+F7 and you will get a list of synonyms).
I will usually make a semantic hierarchy diagram like this one:
This is then provided to the client in order to explain what a user is looking for when they are looking for a product. For a website or web page selling something like dog food, I will create a number of keywords that users are likely to be interested in looking for. Examples would be “canine nutrition”, “labrador meals”, or “Chihuahua Cheese”.
These words should then be inserted strategically throughout the page into the various hotspots like the H3 and Alt Tags. Remember to add them as appropriate to the Meta Keywords element – they should be done alphabetically in order to match the eigenvector distribution patterns that the Googlers look for.
Once Google has visited the page and read the code, they will see the keywords that you have put into the page and make you number one, or at least put you into their results. You can see how well you are doing in Google by searching for your keywords and then seeing where your site ranks. I like to click on the results.