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What is Keyword Optimization?

Keyword optimization is the process of putting relevant keywords on your page so that search engines will be able to easily identify the topic of your page and index it properly. For instance, if your page was about effective search engine optimization, you might optimize your page for a handful of keywords and key phrases, including effective search engine optimization, effective SEO, search engines and search engine rankings.


By effectively optimizing your page for these keywords, it is easier for search engines to properly index your page and your Web site will rank higher in the search engine results. This helps search engines pinpoint the topic of your content and is one of the first steps to increasing the number of visitors that reach your Web site through search engines.

Optimizing keywords for Header and Title tags

Experienced webmaster Mike Herchel (owner of states that effective keyword optimization is the second most important factor in effective search engine optimization, behind only link building. He recommends having each page of a Web site targeted towards a maximum of three to four keywords.

Most importantly, according to Herchel, is making sure that the keywords you are trying to rank well for in search engines appear in the title tag for your page and in the header tags. Google, in particular, places a large emphasis on the title tag in their search engine results, so it is extremely important to have some of your keywords or key phrases appear in the title of your page. This page, for example, primarily targets the key phrase "keyword optimization." Notice how keyword optimization appears in the beginning of the title for this page.

You also want to be sure to place your keywords or key phrases in the header tags on your page. On this Web site, the header tags can be found on the title bar above each box (the gray bars with white text and the green bars with white text). Notice how each of the H1 tags (the gray bars) on this page, include some form of the phrase "keyword optimization" or "optimizing keywords." This helps search engines easily identify this page's topic as being about keyword optimization. Thus, this site would rank better in search engines than sites with similar content that do not use these keywords or key phrases in the title or header tags.

Optimizing keywords for body text and links

After you have optimized your title and header tags to reflect your keywords or phrases, the next step is including your keywords in your body text and in links that you may have in your content. This should occur naturally, assuming you are writing an article or information dealing with the topic of your targeted keywords or key phrases.


You may have noticed by now, that several of the keywords that this page is targeting are written in bold or are links. Seach engines place a greater emphasis on keywords or key phrases that are found in bold text or in links than they do on plain text. Usually, it is good to use bold for your keyword or key phase the first time it appears in your content, assuming it does not take away from the appearance of the content.

Herchel recommends getting plenty of links that have the keywords you are targeting in the anchor text. This is discussed in greater detail on our Anchor Text page.

Keyword Density

It is important to consider just how much you want to put your keywords or key phrases into your page. Using these keywords or key phrases too frequently can drag down the content of your page and cause your readers to lose interest, as your page will not be easy to read and will seem extremely repetitive.

Keyword optimization is all about striking a healthy balance. You need to use your keywords and key phrases enough to gain the SEO benefits, but not so much that it detracts from your site. Herchel asserts that having a high keyword density is less important in the latest algorithms for most search engines and overdoing it can actually cause your site to be penalized.

Depending on the length of your page, anywhere between five percent and 15 percent of your page's overall content should be your keyword or key phrase. There are several free tools available online to help measure keyword density.

Examples of Keywords and Key Phrases Optimization

You can see examples of effective keyword optimization on just about every page of this Web site. Just about every page lists the targeted keywords in the bottom right corner of the sidebar in the section titled "About this Page." You can see these keywords appear multiple times throughout the page in the title tags, header tags, body text and links.