SEO Basics- How to Write Content to Support On- Page Optimization
Copywriters can have a strong influence on increasing the relevance of a website for specific terms by utilizing those keywords in the meta-tags and body content of web pages. Creating sufficient, naturally-written and strategic content can improve a site’s relevance and rankings, increasing the amount of traffic that arrives at the website from the search engines. In this post I’ll provide some very basic advice on what areas of the page can be utilized to improve a page’s relevance for specific terms, and describe things that copywriters should keep in mind when creating or editing web pages. Remember, it’s not just for the User- you have to learn to write for the bots too, which can be a challenge. You’re a professional writer, right? Make those nouns and verbs dance, buddy!
The Impact of Well-Optimized Content
Adding well- written content that’s been optimized for relevant keyword phrases will help your website rank higher for relevant keyword phrases and increase visibility and traffic for other related terms while improving metrics like time on site, bounce rate, and pages per visit.
A page Title not only displays at the top of the browser window, but also appears as the linked text in search results. All major search engines index the Title Tag. In terms of SEO, the Title Tag is considered extremely important in helping the search engines determine the primary topic of the page. Since it is also visible to searchers, the Title tag should also encourage the person to click through to the website. Be succinct; create a page Title that concisely and accurately describes what the page is about. Utilize keywords in the Title that people would use when searching for a page like the one you’re creating. Google displays up to the first 70 characters or less of the page Title, so it’s recommended to keep the Title to 70 characters or less. If the client has a strong brand, consider including their brand name or domain name in the Title tag if there is room left over. The page Title should grab attention, create curiosity, and even evoke emotion to get the customer to click on the Title and visit the site.
Important Note: Having duplicate or near duplicate page Titles across a site has been shown to have the same effect as duplicate content, and can harm a site’s ranking power.
Description Meta Tag
The Description works with the Title to attract prospects. When a prospect performs a search, the results displayed on the SERP are often the Title Tag and the Description Tag. You should spend the same amount of time writing your Title and Description as you would spend on an important ad attracting people to the page. If you don’t include a Description meta-tag, by default most search engines will use the first 30-40 words on the page, which could look very unprofessional and include heading content and/or links- not a good first contact for the User to have with your site.
Be sure to include your focused keyword phrases, but don’t “stuff” or overuse keywords. If the Description meta tag contains the keyword phrase being searched Google will usually display it. If it doesn’t, it will use a snippet from elsewhere on the page. The best Description tags are in the format of a brief paragraph… 2-3 short sentences describing the page, engaging the searcher, and if possible, utilizing important keywords. Try to keep this tag to 155 characters or less to increase the chances that the entire meta-tag will be displayed in the search results.
DO NOT USE THE KEYWORDS META TAG. It has no SEO value to the algorithms that matter, and at worst, you will be letting your competitors know exactly what keywords a page is supposed to represent.
The first rule for creating content for the search engines is to create sufficient textual content on the page. Google and the other search engines cannot interpret or understand words contained with graphics. The search engines cannot play or understand words within videos. Even the majority of content contained within Flash files- though they are getting better- is useless to help a page rank for certain keywords.
The goal should be to include at least a few paragraphs of naturally-written text that imparts information to the visitor and includes keyword phrases that we want the page to rank for. It would help to identify a unique set of keyword phrases for each page before content is created. Creating and developing content and then plugging in selected keywords may not be the highest and best use of content developing resources.
High-ranking pages in Google, MSN and Yahoo! Search average over 400 words of content. This does not include content within the top header, footer or navigation links; it is the unique content within the main body of the page. To help ensure that an individual page has a reasonable chance of ranking for competitive phrases, a minimum of 400-450 words of content should be written.
Content Structure and Layout
The way content is presented on your pages may or may not help visitors read and absorb the information presented to them. This all depends on how your content is structured and tied together. If your content is clustered together as one whole piece instead of it being separated into smaller paragraphs it may pose a problem with those visitors who scan pages as oppose to reading everything that it says. Scanning pages has been noted to be the preferred method for online readers.
A good approach to writing content on categories and subcategory pages is in the form of bulleted points. If category is linking to subcategories then each bullet point could link into the respected subcategory page with a short description explaining the topic of a page it is linking to. If this is a subcategory page then bullet points can link to some top products listed under that specific subcategory. Sometimes a bullet- point approach can be implemented on the homepage as well where bullet points link to category pages and sometimes even most popular topics or products within a site.
Writing body content in a form of short paragraphs with heading names linking to internal category, subcategory, and product pages is another writing method that also provides SEO value since a page with content is better than a page without it.
Using variations and permutations of targeted keywords on your pages will help achieve authority for most targeted keyword phrases. To choose keywords for writing purpose you may use Google Wonder Wheel or Google Keyword Tool to research keywords you are interested in ranking for. Other tools are also available online, but sometimes using common sense is the best tool of them all. As long as keywords are used in moderation and your pages make sense to readers an old fashion keyword density approach can also be implemented.
Keyword density describes how often a keyword or phrase is used within the body of the page. For example, a keyword density of 5% means that a keyword is used an average of 5 times for every 100 words on the page. Naturally-written text about a topic tends to have a keyword density for a main topic keyword of approximately 2% to 4%. Stuffing keywords into the content to increase relevance is seen as “spam” and usually hurts rankings. Pages with keyword densities above 10% are almost always removed by Google before too long. Incorporate a keyword phrase into your content naturally, so the text flows.