Writing Optimized Content for Web Sites

The following is an excerpt from “SEO Workbook: Effective Web Site Promotion.”

I cannot overstate this fact: Content is THE most important aspect of search engine optimization.

Writing optimized (keyword rich) content is an art. It’s tough because you need to use your keywords and phrases as the building blocks of your text, but you have to write material that appears natural. The upside is that it forces you to stay focused on the goal of the Web site and speak in terms of the reader’s interest rather than your own.

The following list is an overview of the essential points when writing content for Web sites. The more your content complies with these guidelines, the higher up in the search results your Web site will be:

1. Define the Web site’s keywords before creating the content.

2. Use the keywords to write the content.

3. Use variations of keywords (i.e., learn, learns, learning, learner).

4. Use keywords in headings.

5. Place keywords at the beginning of a sentence.

6. Place keywords as close to the beginning of any paragraph as possible.

7. Place keywords in content as close to each other as possible.

8. Use keywords two to 10 times (as reasonable) per page.

9. Use keywords as the link text of hyperlinks.

10. Create “themed” pages.

Use the keywords to write the content. Your content will be structured by the pages you defined as a result of your primary keywords. Remember your identified top keywords and have a page for each of them. These are the headings you will use to begin your outline. Next, look at the remaining keywords and see if there are any groups that are not covered by your planned pages. Write those points down in a logical place within your outline.

Begin writing your content under each heading, as you normally would, fleshing out the points. Of critical importance is that you are writing your content for your customers, not for search engines. Apply these SEO guidelines, but be sure to write from the point of view of your customer. You will find that because you are writing about these specific points, the other keywords and phrases you want to use come naturally to mind.

Once you have written the content for a page, review it to see if it complies with the remaining content guidelines listed below, and expand or add in words, sentences or paragraphs as needed. Remember to include word variants in your content. Each page should have a minimum of 300 words of content.

Use keywords in headings. Search engines give pages with keywords in heading tags (e.g., title of paragraph) a higher ranking. A common oversight of content writers (and page designers) is to put headings in as graphics. This causes the page to have a lower ranking than it easily could. Always use heading tags in your content. This also contributes to the search engine perceiving the page as having a consistent “theme,” something we will discuss further shortly.

Place keywords at the beginning of a sentence or paragraph. Since search engines are not just searching for keywords but the importance of those keywords on a page, keywords placed at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs are given a higher weighting than keywords placed elsewhere.

Place keywords in content as close to each other as possible. Try to use keywords in groups, as close to each other as possible. Again, this is something search engines give additional weighting to. You will be creating keyword phrases by doing so.

Use keywords two to 10 times. Try to use keywords two to 10 times. I have to add the caution “as reasonable” because though you want to use the keywords as often as possible you can only do so so often without becoming repetitive. It’s an art, not a science.

Use keywords as the link text of hyperlinks. Just as keywords in heading tags are recognized as significant, so are keywords in link text. Link text is the hyperlinks that link your page to another page. The mistake made on most Web sites is that the links do not contain the keywords. Let’s use our “Island Love Songs” CD Web site for an example. Instead of using generic terms such as “Listen,” “Contact” or “Lyrics,” the link text should say “Listen to Soft & Romantic Music,” “Contact Island Love Songs” and “Song Lyrics,” “Learn About Vancouver Island,” etc.

Create “themed” pages. As you create your content, create “themed” pages. Themed pages and Web sites have as narrow a subject matter as possible from beginning to end of a page and throughout the Web site. If a page starts out talking about dogs, then ends up talking about cars in the middle and Mozart at the end, it is not going to be given the same weighting as a page that talks about dogs in every paragraph. Dogs in the page title, dogs in the paragraph titles, dogs in the beginning of sentences and paragraphs, dogs in the alt tags, dogs in the links. Dogs, dogs, dogs. The same theory applies for the entire Web site.

This work is worth your time. Remember, there is nothing that comes anywhere near the power of keyword rich content to optimize your Web pages.

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