Once you've chosen a set of "good keywords" the next step is to use them effectively.
- Ensure that your headline is keyword rich; avoid nondescript words or those with multiple meanings and no modifier.
- Use the keyword phrase from your title in your first or second sentence and put the words in a bold subtitle every 2-3 paragraphs. They should appear at the very minimum within the first 250 words of your story.
- Use your keyword terms as tags in addition to any proper nouns (capitalized words) within the story and synonyms for your target phrase.
- Strive for 3-5% keyword density (5-7 keywords and/or keyword phrases per 100 words of text).
- Use your target keywords as the anchor text for any outgoing links to other NowPublic stories.
- Place the keywords in your closing sentence.
- Crosslink to relevant stories offsite using target keywords as anchor text and/or the headline of the destination page.
Good and Bad Keyword Examples
Keep in mind that keywords for a story about an earthquake in Haiti should NOT be: "Haiti, quake, disaster, rubble, trapped, 7.0, richter scale, deaths, poverty, bodies" even though these words could appear in the story. If you entered these individually into the Google search engine, imagine all the results that would appear for the word "disaster" in all its contexts since the beginning of time. Instead, combine the words to describe the geographical, temporal and topical parameters of your story, exactly what this particular story is about, ie "Jan 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti" or "7.0 Earthquake Port-au-Prince Haiti" or " Haitian Earthquake relief effort". See the difference?
The best keywords are those totally unique to one entity. Chris Martin, lead singer of the band Coldplay, has a daughter named Apple who is likely the only Apple Martin in the world, and therefore an excellent keyword for a profile of her father, as opposed to "celebrities' daughters," which is not strong because there are thousands of celebrities of every stripe with female offspring and the field is still too large.
Consider the stand-alone word "game" - not a good keyword when covering a football match because on it's own it could mean board game, electronic game, mind game, any game of any sport, game as in hunting game that is eaten, game as in "I'm game"/willing - you get the picture. Better to use the full names of key players, coaches, the stadium, the team names with the date of the match, and any unique event that occurred during the game itself in combination with who it happened to.
Our editors will do their best to help you by rewriting headlines to show you what would be more effective or explaining in a flag or email, but it's just practice, trial and error that really make the difference - that and thinking like Spock - very literally and strategically.