Choosing keywords by Matt Ottewill (March 2014)


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Around 50% of traffic to websites arrives via search engines. You may find that even though you have saved bookmarks/favourites, even you find it easier to enter a quick search term when you want to return to a familiar site. Optimised keywords/phrases are essential to making this work for you.

As we now know, text content and meta data are the primary ways in which search engines determine how relevant your content is to a given search term. Let’s try an experiment and search for Garth Brooks. If you type “country music” into a search engine (try it) it won’t return any country music artists websites on the first page, so even if you’re the biggest selling country music artist in the cosmos (he once was) you will need other accompanying keywords. Now try typing “Garth”, and finally try “country music garth”. With this last keyword phrase, the search engine is better able to return relevant results. Therefore, you will need to employ a combination of keywords/phrases in your own marketing content.

Keywords/phrases can fall into several categories including branded and non-branded. For example ..

The Milt Poke Coral (branded keyword phrase)
Country music band (non-branded keyword phrase)
Metallica (branded keyword)
Metal (non-branded keyword)

Although search engines are location aware, including the name of your town, state or county in your keywords/phrases is one way to stay high in result rankings when your area of operation is geographically specific. Try a search term like “wedding band Kansas”.

There are many online tools for analysing how effective your keywords/phrases choices are (including of course Google Analytics), and finding out what search terms have led traffic to your site or channel. Although you may be constantly refining them by analysing how successful they are using analytic tools, you will need to maintain a basic consistency across all the content you have created that uses them.

So for example, Project Studio Handbook (PSHB) uses the phrase “FREE essential theory videos for project and home recording studio owners” in ..

the meta-tags of each site page
the description tags of all its social media channels
meta-data in its videos
social media and forum post signatures

Start by writing an initial list of words. Include branded and non-branded keywords/phrases, and then think of some generic but relevant terms such as “fuzz-box” or “hand drawn animation” which can be used in meta-data. You can use Google’s AdWord service to help you identify the best keywords/phrases too.

Choosing keywords and keyword phrases

Choosing the keywords/phrases that produce the best results for you is likely to be challenging, especially if the words that describe you and your music are either too individual or too generic. Keyword phrases such as “jazz fusion” will produce too many results, whilst “Ocean Jazz Extruders” will not be a common search term. Using localising keyword phrases can help (“jazz fusion Bolton”), but you will almost certainly need to research, try out and refine your choices. Some excellent advice can be found here ..

You will need a Google AdWord account (free) if you want to research keywords/phrases for organic search, and if you decide to run an AdWord campaign (more later on this). This is a good place to start .. Don’t be intimidated by all the technical jargon, just focus on identifying the most successful keywords/phrases. Remember you can also test ideas out at a search engine.


You need to include keywords in your content that reflect the keywords people are likely to type into search boxes. This means thinking about how they will describe what they are searching for rather than how you might. You may have invented clever phrases to describe processes or products but will other people be searching with those phrases? Probably not. If you site sells door mats then use the phrase "door mat" not "footwear cleaning utility"(am I going to fast for you!) Obvious stuff, but many site builders forget this simple principal. Here are a few other tips ...

  • Write down a list of phrases you think your sites visitors might use to find sites like yours, ask friends to suggest phrases.
  • Find out what keyword are most successful on a web site you have built by checking the sites access logs.
  • Go to competitor sites and see which keywords they have used in their source code.

There is a lot to say about keyword analysis and implementation in a site, so search the web and print for more comprehensive advice.