Had a fascinating meeting with a new client this morning. He has a vineyard and olive farm, and produces wines and extra virgin olive oil of exceptional quality. Talk about lifestyle!

After looking at the objectives for his business online, and reviewing the personas he wants to talk to, we had a really productive discussion about keywords. We all participated in the keyword discussion. And ideas formed in my head about themes.

I have never tried to really explain themes to clients. At one level, it can all sound very technical / very geeky (and on one level, they are). But today was a bit different. I got it into my head I wanted to try and explain themes. Without getting a glazed over a look, or having people think I am geeking out all of a sudden. Because keywords and themes really matter.

To explore this subject, let’s take an example that is very easy to relate to. Let’s imagine for a moment we are going to open a funky cafe.

Naturally we want our funky cafe to have the looks. All of a sudden we are thinking street appeal, ambience, and seeing way cool folk sipping latte. But hang on, we gotta get serious here, what about the three rules that will determine the success of our cafe – Location, location and location! We all know these three rules matter.

SEO Website Development is all about Location, Location, LocationThis picture here shows a place that lacks street appeal – we could quickly fix that with a refit. But it doesn’t have location – and no amount of money is fixing that!

Ok, so what if the same three rules are important for websites? Location, location and location.

The location of a website isn’t obvious. External appearances? Sure, they are obvious, and anyone with a pulse is qualified to comment on what they consider poor design. With websites, if externals are a problem (and they usually aren’t), a makeover can usually fix them very quickly.

But how do you figure out the location, location, location of a website? And if you happen to be in a bad location, can it be fixed with a simple makeover?

In short, the answer to the location question is that to understand it, you need to understand two concepts:

  • Keywords: Lots of people search for stuff, and search depends on keywords. Good keywords are good business because they bring search visitors.
  • Themes. Lots of people find stuff on the web by surfing (reading and clicking on to other web pages). What people read is not random, there is a theme to it all. Tapping into good themes is good business because it brings referral visitors.

Keywords and themes are the major factors that will determine the quality and quantity of search and referral visitors to your website. The physical location of a cafe determines the potential for visitors to come through its doors. Bad coffee can turn them away in a good location. But good coffee can’t bring people to a bad location.

Likewise, keywords and themes control the potential number of visitors to a website.

One day it will be obvious where websites are located. And keywords and themes will be the lenses we use to view it. But it isn’t that obvious these days. Understanding how to use Themes in websites is hard (or has been until now!). Understanding keywords isn’t hard, it’s just that most people *think* they get it, when they don’t. It isn’t hard to really get it, but as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

So after this morning’s inspirational session on wine and olive oil, I wrote an article called on SEO and Web Development – the core of the article is a diagram explaining Themes and Keywords and how to use these concepts to optimize a business website.

OM4 Site Structure Themes and Keywords

I realise I’m going out on a limb here. Themes and Keywords = Location, Location, Location for websites. And I’m laying out on the table what I believe is a simple approach to use the concepts to structure (or restructure) a website. Or to anchor it in a good location, if you like. Theming is an SEO concept that I’ve never really seen a good explanation of. After doing a lot of work in the area, I have a view on what Themes are (and if this isn’t it, I’ll need to rename my concept, because it is useful).

The article was written primarily to guide my own team and the freelancers who help us prepare online marketing websites for clients. Like many aspects of online marketing however, business owners can benefit from understanding what is involved here. Even if you won’t be developing websites yourself, understanding Themes and Keywords will help you make good business decisions about your online business.

Making good decisions about Keywords and Themes means balancing out a lot of competing factors. Some are highly technical and need SEO knowledge. Some aren’t, but require require business judgement (so a business owner’s input is vital).