Depending on the size of your company’s site, the best keywords to target can vary in several areas, including: competition for the keyword and the average number of monthly searches for your keyword.

Most small to medium-size businesses can’t match the volume of content found on major retailer sites. For example, Home Depot or Lowes have hundreds of pages of content internally linked within their site, while the local or regional hardware store may not have more than a dozen or so pages. As a result, many vague and general keywords in the industry will be too competitive to rank for when the local hardware store launches its site.

Important keywords should be used within in the first few words (50-100, but hopefully even sooner) of a page’s text content. The engines do appear to have some preference for pages that employ keywords sooner, rather than later, in the text. With fewer pages of content to utilize, small businesses must be much more efficient with their keywords if they want to gain any traction against the corporations.

When you’re contemplating the best keywords to employ for each of your pages, remember to pick keywords that are unique to each respective page. For example, if you’re a bakery, donuts should be one of your pages, and the title for the donuts page should include “donuts”, to distinguish that page from the other food for sale.

Another important concept to remember when you’re choosing keywords is to keep your target market in mind. As James Wells wrote in his article titled SEO Basics, “SEO is not just about making the site rank high in the search engines, it’s about market research and then targeting the desired traffic….just because one keyword has more traffic than another, it doesn’t mean it is better for your business to optimize for that keyword. For example: As a sports apparel store owner, would it be smarter to optimize for “performance sports apparel” (A) or “Sports store” (B)? Even though (A) may have 10x’s the amount of traffic; an individual that searches for (B) is likely a better target market. Some people can browse for sports stores for years, without actually buying, while someone searching for the specific design of performance apparel is more likely to convert to a customer.”

For example, take Dekin Sports, which is a new company that specializes in performance sports apparel, including men’s short sleeve T-shirts, sport socks, mesh hats, sport lanyards, team polo shirts and performance shorts. During the keyword evaluation and selection process, their SEO adviser opted to employ keywords unique to the products on each page, rather than general sports apparel terms that are already dominated by Nike, Reebok and other corporations. Within a few weeks, they were ranking among the top 20 results for target keywords.

Remember, your business is only as unique as your decide to brand it. If you fail to recognize the unique aspects of your company, you’ll never tap your entire market and you’ll never reach your full growth potential.