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(I first wrote about this concept back in 2006, and the notion is even more true now.)
Optimizing your Web site for search engines is just like playing “Jeopardy.”
  • What questions do people ask for which your company, your offerings, your information is the answer?
  • Who are those people?
  • What words do they use in asking those questions?
Start by researching these questions (a great starting point is Wordtracker).
Then, you need to make sure to
  • create content on your websites answering each of those questions
  • use their terms and phrases in your content
  • address each of the questions on individual, separate pages on your site
The example I used back in ’06 was web advice for a relative who runs a company that makes the “trees of life” and other products that organizations use as to honor and recognize their donors.
The issue was that someone on a fundraising committee at that organization probably doesn’t know the term “donor recognition.” My relative wanted to understand how to improve his conversions — he has people trickling onto the site, but extremely low numbers who actually contact him.
I told him to keep three things in mind:
  • You want to put yourself where your target audience is, online
  • You want to describe your offerings in terms your audience uses
  • You want to create words and images that will resonate with the people who arrive at your site.
His research showed that people were searching for “plaques,” “trees of life,” and “donor walls.” He learned that they wanted information about their specific type of organization — healthcare organization, house of worship, charitable institution, etc. — even though the actual choices are pretty much the same.
The reality is that it’s possible for my relative to create almost any kind of recognition product that a client could dream up — but they weren’t on Google searching for “freeform recognition product,” so concepts to that effect weren’t drawing prospective customers to his site.
After applying the Jeopardy principle to his online presence, his traffic is up and the conversion rate is greatly improved.

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