If you’re in your mid-30′s or older you probably remember the Florida Orange Juice commercials, “It’s not just for breakfast anymore.” (note: I couldn’t locate an actual ad). The 6 word tag line told the story perfectly and you don’t need anything else to get the message, drinking orange juice shouldn’t be thought of as only a breakfast drink; it was brilliant marketing by Florida Orange Growers.
It’s really easy to get caught pigeon-holing things that need to be thought of a little more broadly. There was no real reason that orange juice should have only been thought of as a breakfast drink and there is no reason you should only be thinking of keywords in terms of SEO.
SEO, at it’s essence, is about one thing, being found. We use appropriate keywords in our writing hoping to rank well for those words and phrases people are using to find the information we are sharing. But ranking isn’t really the goal, being found is. More specifically, it isn’t about you being found, no one cares about “you” or “me”, they care about the information we are sharing, so it’s really about the information being findable.
More effective keyword/key-phrase usage wherever we publish content will make the information we are sharing easier to find, not only through search engines but everywhere. Even in situations where “ranking” isn’t at issue, using good keywords can help grab a readers attention when they are scanning, using their browser “find” functionality to look for something on a page or when scanning through titles and headlines.
Here are 3 quick places to start using keywords better:
- Forums, Create Meaningful Thread Titles: Even if you don’t really use forums much, odds are you use them to some degree, even if just searching for the answer to a question on-line or to get support of some sort. Nothing is more worthless than a forum thread headline titled “Please help me.” When people are scanning or searching forums for answers to their questions they aren’t likely to open that thread because it doesn’t tell them anything at all about the content of the thread or what question may have been answered. When you get into a forum with hundreds or thousands of threads the ones with meaningful titles will catch your attention or, will make it easier to skip over if you know they aren’t discussing what you are interested in. Good keyword use is not only helpful, it’s a courtesy!
- Twitter, Use Meaningful Keywords in Your Tweets: Not only is real-time search becoming a bigger and bigger deal (hence good for indexing and SEO) but with so many people tweeting, the use of meaningful and descriptive phrases will help draw attention to your tweets as opposed to the vague tweets of so many twitter users.
- Email, Create Meaningful Subject Lines and Use Keywords in Content: Here is a good one that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with SEO. With the volume of email most of us deal with on a daily basis, prioritizing and searching are critical skills to keeping up. Here, search is particularly important since most people archive all of their email. Doing a keyword search on email you know is there but can’t find is frustrating. GMail (for example) has incredible search but it still won’t find with I’m looking for if the keywords I’m searching on don’t exist in the email. Use the right keywords and not only is your email more readable, but easier for me (and you) to find and refer to.
The volume of information isn’t going to go down anytime soon and our ability to search and scan is going to become a critical skill to surviving the information age. The better you are at keyword usage the stronger your communication will be, the easier your life will be and the more you’ll be able to influence (not control) the flow of traffic around you via all of the online mediums we use.
You don’t need to do keyword research every time you tweet or start a forum thread. Just think a little bit and use logical words and phrases anytime you are creating content and you will make your information easier to find.
I can think of a ton of other places where good keyword usage is beneficial but I want to see what you come up with. Where else can you think of that you wish people would make better use of keywords or you could improve their usage yourself?