Write For Your Visitors Not the Search Engines

There are two main attributes the search engines consider when determining rankings… on-page and off-page criteria. Off-page criteria is basically how many links are leading TO your website (otherwise known as link popularity). On-page criteria includes those attributes that are actually part of your website. It’s important to understand and apply the basics of on-page SEO for website optimization, but none really impact your visitors as much as your messaging.

Search engines have automated “spiders” that visit websites and “read” the content to understand what the website is all about. This is how they determine the site’s keyword relevance and, in varying degree, the site’s “organic” (non pay-per-click) rankings. Spiders are built to be intelligent. If a website lacks any mention of relevant keywords and is not “rich” in content depth and consistency, it will likely not rank well for important keywords.

Some website owners take this knowledge to the extreme and “stuff” their websites with repetitive keywords in hopes of getting better rankings. “Stuffing” your website is not only frowned upon by readers of the site, but most search engines will penalize your rankings if you abuse the use of keywords. Unnaturally stuffing your page with keywords may work for a very short time (It’s not uncommon to find some websites that rank well with overt and repetitious keyword mention). But if/when the search engines detect abuse, your rankings can suffer and for the extreme offenders can even be banned. Is it worth it?

A better approach is to first write your text primarily for the visitor, using important keywords naturally. Review the body text of all your web pages (not just the home page) to make sure your messaging speaks to your visitors in a clear, professional and impacting way.

Once your website copy flows nicely, then look for opportunities to strategically and tactfully mention important keywords and keyword phrases that potential buyers would likely enter into Google, et al. How often should you use keywords in your text and where should they be located (top of page, mid page, bottom, etc…)?…

If you can, search for a relevant keyword phrase and analyze the comparable sites that rank high for the phrase. Note how frequently it occurs in the text. Also note the general location of the keywords. Are they toward the top of the page, throughout the webpage, etc.? This process is a long process, so depending on your time, resources and size of site you may want to utilize some of the tools available for analyzing body text. One such tool for analyzing keyword density is http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/.

Note: The number of times a keyword is mentioned on a web page is called “frequency”. Keyword “density” is measured by the percentage of times a keyword phrase appears on a web page compared to total number of words on the page. Keyword “prominence” refers to how prominent keywords appear within a page. Although keyword frequency, density and prominence aren’t as important as they were just a few years ago, these are still important attributes to address when analyzing body text for better organic search engine rankings.

Remember to write for your visitors first. Then optimize each webpage for only a few related keywords. With too many keywords, the page becomes “diluted” and will likely not represent any core keyword theme. Focusing a page on just a few related keyword phrases will also allow you to keep your page copy focused and relevant to the searcher’s interests.