Search Engine Keywords

What are Keyword Breakdowns?

The keyword breakdown pages are produced by a script that searches through your referring Urls and tries to find references to search engines. You will occasionally find results that aren't search engine keywords, but it's usually very accurate.

Why Ignore Quotes (") and Plus Signs (+)?

Some search engines allow users to get better results by forcing search engines to include words, exclude others and to group certain words together. If you set your breakdown to ignore quotation marks (") as well as plus signs (+) you will get a more accurate representation of which keywords people use to find your site, however it's not the most accurate representation of how people search for your site. In order to see the best approximation of the search engine results that were provided to the people searching for your site, you should not ignore quotes and plus signs. However, if you're just interested in compiling a list of keywords that people use to find your site, you can safely ignore them.

Case Sensitivity

In most cases you can safely ignore case sensitivity. If you choose to ignore case sensitivity all of your keywords will be changed to lower case letters. This allows you to get a better idea of what words are most succesful in driving visitors to your site. However, it is possible that some search engines do case sensitive searches. For this reason, to take case sensitivity into account when viewing your breakdown of keywords.

What is Best for Me?

In most cases, you'll be fine ignoring case, quotes and plus signs, however when you choose not to ignore these things, you refine your breakdown in ways that can be very important when you're digging deep for information. Try turning these settings on and off and then comparing the results. That way you'll be able to see what works best for you.

How Can I Learn from These Results?

Your breakdown results can give you a better idea of what people are actually looking for when they get to your site. If you click on the search engine links that are provided you'll also be able to see a few very important things:

  • How high you rank in the listings for certain keywords
  • What other sites appear on the same searches
  • How many pages of results users were willing to look through before they found your site

However, one of the most important things you can learn is what these results *don't* tell you. They don't tell you what people entered who were looking for your site but couldn't find it. It's comforting to know that some keywords are working for you, but the key to driving more traffic to your site is finding out what other keywords you should be using, but aren't.
There is, however, a tool that can help you out in this regard. The Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool will tell you how popular a given set of keywords is. That is, it will tell you how often visitors to that engine searched on the keywords in the previous month. It will also give you lists of similar keywords and their popularity. Try searching on different sets of keywords that relate to your site. You may find a few things that you hadn't thought of.

How do I Use This Knowledge?

If you come across new search terms, add them to your meta tags. That isn't enough, though. You'll also find it helpful to work those keywords into the titles and content of your web pages. That will improve your ranking with search engines. After a few weeks or months you should notice hits to your site increasing that are based on the new keywords that you have added. It doesn't happen overnight, but it will drive more traffic to your site in the long run.