One of the most important issues to understand about attracting search engines is how to write content that effectively helps to boost a site’s rankings in the major search engines. There isn’t really any trick to writing effective content once you understand what search engine algorithms are seeking.
First, every Web site needs to be focused on a general theme. A theme is a group of related search keywords that are targeted for higher search results page rankings. If a site sells widgets, the entire site should be focused on topics related to widgets. Each page needs a more defined theme that is a subset of the general theme. A site selling widgets could have a individual pages focused on green widgets, red widgets, round widgets, square widgets, widget design and technology, the history of widgets, etc.
Second, you need to clearly understand that a search engine spider doesn’t care who your are, the size of your company, your market share, what you sell or the services you provide. None of that gives a Web site any advantage with search engines. Search engines build spider algorithms to look for one thing—content. More specifically, search engine spiders are designed to seek informational content. The more informational content a site contains that is focused on a targeted keyword theme, the greater the chances that the site will rank well with search engines for those keywords.
Third, the keyword theme for each Web page should be tightly focused on one to three related keyword phrases. One to three keyword phrases is an optimal number. If you do not focus the content, or if you attempt to place too many unrelated keyword phrases on a page, the content becomes difficult to read and the effectiveness of the keyword phrases diminishes.
Fourth, the chances that a site will rank well for a given keyword theme increases as the number of internal Web pages that focus on a specific theme increase. Search engine ranking algorithms change over time and each search engine spider looks at different aspects of a Web page when indexing a web site. It therefore is beneficial to have four or five pages, each with absolutely unique content, focused on each theme. Google may rank one page higher than another, while MSN and Yahoo may prefer others. In addition, all of these related topics help reinforce the general theme for the Web site.
How do I form a keyword theme when writing content?
The most important place on a web page to declare the theme is in the HTML title tag. That is the first place that a spider looks when determining a theme for a web page. It is also the title for the page that displays in the search results for virtually every search engine. Try to anticipate how someone might search for a product or service and use that same word order in the HTML title tag. If the theme for the page is about the history of widgets, a good title tag might be “History of Widgets”. The words on the left-hand side of the HTML title tag carry the most weight, so never use a company name on the left-hand side. If you wish to use the company name, place it on the right-hand side and separate it from the keyword theme with either a dash ( – ) surrounded by spaces, or a pipe ( | ) surrounded by spaces.
Everything else on the page should reinforce the keyword theme that is set in the HTML title tag. The next most important location for stating the keyword themes is the H1 or H2 heading tag. Heading tags are considered to be paragraph titles, so they should state what the information that follows is trying to convey to the user. An H1 heading tag should only be used once, while H2 through H6 tags can be used multiple times. It can be a good idea to vary the content of the heading tag to differentiate it from the HTML title tag, but it is not necessary to do so.
The next most important location for the keyword theme is in the content itself. When writing content, the keyword theme should be used throughout the text, but not overused to the point that the content sounds contrived or hard to read. Content should always be written for your users, but you need to keep search engines in mind while doing so. The first sentences of paragraphs are the most multiple important locations for use of the keyword theme. Scatter the use of the theme throughout the paragraphs. Some people believe that it helps to reinforce the theme in the last sentence on the page.
How much content do I need?
As a general rule, about 250 to 500 words appears to be optimal for most search engines. Keep the content focused on the keyword theme for the page. It’s a good idea to mix some variations of the keyword theme word order while writing content. It is also a good idea to use other variations, such as singular and plural forms of the keyword theme. Some major search engines use word stemming and therefore a page tends to represent multiple forms of a keyword theme. But pages that use the exact form (exact word order) of a targeted phrase as part of the content and the keyword theme tend to have an advantage in search engine rankings.
Sometimes it is necessary to use two or three thousand words in an article when writing content. It’s okay to do that, but keep the keyword density in mind and be careful not to dilute the effectiveness of the keyword theme for the web page. If your content becomes lengthy, the use of the keyword theme throughout the written content needs to increase.
As a general rule, a keyword density of 3% to 6% tends to work well with most search engines. To calculate the keyword density, you need to count the total number of words in the page content. You can do if you cut-and-paste the content into Microsoft’s Word, and then view the Properties and Statistics in Word’s File menu. Next, count the number of times each individual word in a keyword theme is used throughout the content. Divide the usage of the words by the total number of words in the content. The keyword density is the percentage of times any individual targeted theme word appears relative to the total amount of content.
Always try to keep your written content brief and to the point if you want visitors to read it. Remember to write for your users, but keep the needs of search engine spiders in mind if you want a Web page to rank well.
This should help clarify the art and science of writing content for search engines. If the explanation is not clear or you have questions, give us a call and we will be glad to help you work through your content writing issues.