Search engines love web content. So do Internet users surfing the Web for information or whatever it is that they are after. Appease them, and you will be rewarded. Disappoint them, and you won’t. It really is as simple as that.
In Part 1 I will explain as concisely as I can how to appease the Search Engines. In Part 2, which will follow next week, I will address the human element.
Search Engines and your Web Content
We all know that the Search Engines’ algorithms are a somewhat mysterious and murky affair. That is intentional, as you can imagine. You can tweak here, and tweak there as much as you like without knowing what the exact outcomes are going to be.
Fortunately there is one element that bears an influence and that you do have complete control over: your web content.
When your site gets crawled by a search engine’s bot / spider, its primary focus is web content. The search engines like to find structure, they certainly like to find volume and they definitely like to find freshness.
Tips and Tricks to Optimize your Web Content Structure
Title: Keep your title short. When I do copywriting, I always try to create titles that are longer than 40 characters but shorter than 70 characters. Your title should contain your keyword. The closer you place your keyword to the beginning of the title, the better. Test your newly crafted title. Type it into Google and Bing’s search boxes and hit enter. If the results are in line with the web content you are about to write, life is groovy. If something different surfaces, it is back to the drawing board for you.
Keywords: Keywords are still important and should be used when you are writing your web content. Choose a primary keyword by using a program like the Google Keyword Tool. Use the keyword near the top of the first paragraph and sprinkle it here and there throughout the remainder of the text. I like using the keyword near the bottom of the last paragraph as well. Don’t overdo it. A 2% to 3.5% density is more than adequate.
Headings: Use headings in your web content, and structure these properly. Incorporate your keyword in some of these. The Search engine sees the <h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc. in your web code.
Links: Add an outbound link or two to an authority site. This has to be in context though. Adding a Pete’s Pets link when your web content deals with the intricacies of Mayan beadwork won’t make sense. In addition, you may want to add one or two internal links to relevant locations on your site. If you scroll up, you’ll see I created an external link to the Google Keyword Tool. Scroll up some more, and you’ll notice that I created an internal link to my copywriting page.
Images: Yes! Yes! I know. Images aren’t text. But they do form a part of your web content and they should contain text to be rendered useful. In fact, you should have at least one image per post. When you upload an image, remember to add:
• Alternate Text
Most folks seem to think that Alternate text suffices. I don’t. Maybe it is just me. The keyword must appear in all three. It might not be a cake walk to get your keyword to sound natural, but it can be done – regardless of whether you are a copywriting expert or not.
Length: More than 300 words, please! Anything less than that, and the search engines may think that your web content is anorexic.
Tips and Tricks to Optimize your Web Content for the rest
Ah, yes! Freshness and volume, among other things. These Search Engines don’t ask much, now do they?
This is exactly why I recommend that you have a blog section on your site. A weekly blog will add four pages of fresh web content to your site every month, which translates to at least 48 pages a year. Allow comments. These add to freshness! Best of all, it’s for free. Just don’t publish spammy comments. You’ll get loads of those.
In addition to your blog, you need to keep a close watch on the rest of your web content:
Age: When any given piece of web content is a year old, it could be dusty. Make no mistake, if it is a high converting page don’t mess with it for Google’s sake. If it is not much of a performer, change at least 15% of the content around the upper reaches of the page or overhaul it completely. Word of warning: don’t replace all the web content on your entire site in a single go. You’ll confuse the bots. Rather phase drastic changes in over a course of 6 to 10 weeks.
Links: Check that these are operational on a regular basis. Search engines notice when links are no longer working and there is a 50/50 chance that your site could be devalued.
Additional pages: If your site is still thin in spite of the blog, gradually increase the number of pages on your site. 20% – 25% per year is a good rule of thumb. Consider adding page types that are regularly updated such as FAQ , In the News etc. Every little bit helps.
Duplicate Content: Regardless whether you or your beloved copywriting expert produced a piece of web content, always run it through Copyscape or a similar program to ensure that your web content is not duplicated elsewhere. Duplicate web content can severely affect your optimization efforts!
Meta descriptions: Perhaps a little old fashioned on my part? Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t like the idea of allowing the search engines to decide which portion of my web content to harvest in order to describe my page or post. I write a meta description in an attempt to stop that from happening. You meta description will ideally be a short elevator pitch that sells your page. It should contain your keyword in one or two places. Each page and each post must have its own unique meta description.
Next week we’ll take a look at how you can optimize your web content to be as human friendly as possible. In the meantime, your comments and queries are welcome!
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