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For many novices to search engine optimization keyword usage is a mystery if not an overlooked skill. Understanding how to select and use keywords is a core skill in successful SEO. To master keyword usage, SEMs should focus on three things: Keyword Research, Content Development and Link Popularity.

In its simplest form, keyword research is the process of reviewing the major SE histories to discover the volume searches for specific keywords. The first stage of this process is understanding what keywords are actually searched. For example, if you are selling cell phones it would be nice to to know whether more users are searching “mobile phone” or “cell phone” or camera phone”. More importantly, if certain keywords represent higher profit sales for your business (e.g., camera phones are more profitable), then this should be accounted for, as well.

The KW research process actually becomes rather more complex however, because like most commodities that involve supply demand it is important to find YOUR niche. Let me explain… Unless you have an “unlimited” budget, you will be hard-pressed to compete with other cell phone sales organizations to get top rankings. So at some point you will need to find a “beach head” — a narrow focus that you can attack to begin gaining traction. For example, you might find that “2 megapixel camera phone” is new and therefore has fewer competitors. This may be an appropriate way to find a market for the right product.

These same concepts apply to any category of product or service.

Understanding the intricacies of content development requires a more detailed explanation than will be offered here. However, it is worth noting how important content development is to success. That is, SEMs should consider integrating blogs, wikis, forums or other tools to incorporate more content.

The key here is to develop a content strategy that is grounded in relevancy. Do not add a blog and fill it with junk and keyword stuffings. Why? Because even if your site does get good rankings, your prospective customers will find junk on your website. You will have zero credibility. So add useful content or don’t add anything at all.

And, if you are operating a database related site, consider opening up SOME of your DB to the public. This will give the SEs a whole lot more content to crawl. You can find creative ways to provide limited access to database content, which will present a bigger picture of your website to the SEs and give your prospective clients a bit of “bait”.

Finally, developing relevant, inbound links to your site is key. Again, there are many different ways to do this. This could include publishing articles for redistribution, developing a highly useful tool that others in your industry will point to, developing a strong affiliate program, etc. You need to look at your business and find the right option.