In my previous article, “Next Step:Optimizing Site URLs” , we learned how to optimize web site URLs. Even if there are a number of factors involved in SEO, we have to give primary importance to Website Contents. Content is the key to good search engine rankings. I am going to present some of the best content optimization practices in this article.
How users read content on the Web
It is a fact that people rarely read web pages word by word! They scan pages, picking out words and sentences. A research on “how people read websites”, by useit.com, showed that 79 percent of the test users always just scanned a new page they viewed, for keywords; only 16 percent of users read the page word by word. So it is important that your web pages demarcate scannable text, using:
- Highlighted keywords
- Meaningful sub-headings and menus
- Bulleted and attractive lists
- One idea per paragraph
- less word count
So in short, your web page should possess well-written and optimized content.
The importance of Content
Well optimized content always drives your web site to the top position of Search Engine listings. But preparing effective content for the website is different from writing a guide, print document or article. Many points are to be taken care of while compiling web page content and these are very important for search engine rankings. The main focus should be:
- Unique and well-written content.
- With articles come links.
- It should become a resource.
Unique & well-written content
Spiders look for unique content and your visitors look for well-written content. This is very important for your web site’s existence and it deserves the same time that was taken to create it. Your website content should be worthy of SEO and it is your decision to choose what to include.
Suppose you have a cosmetics cart website. You found many customers searching for “Skincare Body Lotion” and “Advanced Skincare Body Lotion” in your website. Here, you should choose these exact words as your targeted keyword phrases.
In this case, you know what your visitors want. Now what you have to do is, create a solid and attractive content that will grab your visitor’s attention and at the same time, give them what they want.
With articles come links
The content should also build inbound links to your site, which eventually boosts your rankings. One of the most effective methods to increase inbound statistics is to publish articles. Article publishing serves two important purposes:
- Increased Link Popularity – When you write an article and submit it to other websites, they will generally link to your website from the page the article is on.
- Website exposure & credibility.
Become a resource
Another benefit is that, your website itself will act as a resource. If you can provide great and useful information, readers will link to it naturally. Build a good site with quality content, keep it easily navigable and, create sections and categories for specific areas (articles for example). Readers will surely link to your site and may even link to specific articles or your article index.
Content Optimization Process
In this section, we will analyze the optimization process in detail. Basically, the content of your website is what is important to search engines. They consider your website, based on both meta tags and content in relation to the important keywords. The best content optimization method is analyzing and collecting more detailed information about your site/products.
Writing for the Web
Here we will discuss about ‘how the presentation and architecture of the text, image and multimedia content on a page’ can be optimized for search engines. This part presents some recommendations and a few second-order effects. It is true that right formatting or display does not necessarily boost your rankings directly. The following section explains some of the good practices for web content writing.
Create an effective Landing Page
Landing page is a specialized page that the visitors are directed to, once they have clicked on a link. It may be a Pay Per Click ad or Banner ad. It will be tightly focused on a particular product or service to get the visitors attention directly.
To get better page visit, every single page on your site should also be considered as a “landing” page and should be formatted accordingly.
While creating a landing page, please note the following:
1. What are you offering through this document/page
2. What kind of users need to see this.
3. Would they be interested after seeing the page
4. Whether this landing page will act as a summary of all related items in the website.
And here are some of the best tips for writing an effective landing page.
- Make a “Call to Action” towards the top of the page. Good examples are “purchase today!”, “buy now, limited offer!” or “subscribe now!” texts
- Your sentences should be brief with a clear and valuable information.
- Make sure that length of the page is optimum.
- It is a good practice to add major questions that someone addressed. Also, it will be a good idea to post some questions and the corresponding answers by yourself.
- Logical sequence of a page’s content is important.
- Formatting of content is very important (explained in later sections) .
- Ifnecessary, use graphics.
Writing an ‘ About Us’ page
The “About Us” page is a good way of presenting your company information on a corporate website. Also, when prospective users visit your site, the “About Us” page will be one of the first links they will click on. “About Us” basically shows the visitor that you are a solid, reputable, experienced and customer-focused organization. Here are some tips to write an “About Us” page:
- A brief overview of what you do, including benefits
- Company history.
- Profiles of executives, key managers.
- Awards and other recognitions received by the organization.
- Press releases and other resources.
- Quick contact Information
Try to publish as much contents as possible in your web site but at the same time, limit the number of paragraphs in a single page. This is why we need to categorize targeted keywords in sub-categories and include unique descriptions. Insert one or two keywords in a 50 words paragraph. Also, the content should be very easy to understand.
You should make sure that all the keywords that you have added in your meta tags, are also included in the text of your site. Make sure that about 5% to 20% of your text include the keywords (Keyword Density). Also, while optimizing your content, never insert too many keywords to avoid tagging it as spam. Note that, the most important keyword(s) should be included at the beginning of the page.
Tip: If possible, start the content with the first keyword which is in the title tags of that page.
Content Formatting Process
It is very important to format the text to show search engines that certain words are more important than the rest. For example, put the keywords in bold text.
Use of Headings
The heading tag and the HTML code is used to specify a main topic or subsections of it. You have 6 predefined heading tags to work with, ranging from to <H6>. These headings are larger than the normal text by default, and are bold. These aspects can be adjusted using the font tag or by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). There are several guidelines you should follow:
Never use the same tag twice on a single page
The <H1> tag holds the greatest weight from the rest of the heading tags. Its purpose is to act as the primary heading of the page. If you use it twice, you are obviously not using it to define the main topic of the page. So there should be one, and only one, <H1> headline in each article/page. If you need to use another heading tag, use the <H2> tag. After that the <H3> tag and so on. Also, the main headline should contain your primary keyword phrase.
The heading should express your wording
Let me use an example to explain this. If you have a 2 keyword phrase and your heading is 10 words long, then your keyword phrase makes up about 20% of the total search chances. On the other hand, if you have a 4 word heading, you would have a 50% density and increased priority given to the keyword phrase you are targeting.
Use heading tags only when necessary.
If your content is lengthy, which requires many heading tags, you should consider dividing the contents into multiple pages. Use heading tags only when it is appropriate. In most cases. rather than using additional heading tags, making the content bold will be sufficient.
Avoid using CSS heading tricks
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can be used for many great functions. You can reduce the font size of <H1> tag using CSS to make it look like a bold text. But the purpose of the tag is lost then. Since Search Engines do not encourage CSS, they will consider this tag as a main heading, which is bad.
Hyperlinking provides good structure and navigation for your web site. It is also important from an SEO perspective, as it turns out that search engines learn a lot from how you link your documents together. Use hyperlinks between documents when the linked document can provide value to the reader. The “anchor text” you use in hyperlinks is critical from an SEO perspective. Linking a document with anchor text is always better than linking it with generic text like “read more here”, or “follow this link”. Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Try to use your primary keyword phrase in the link anchor text.
- If it is appropriate, you can vary the inbound link anchor text among the various links.
A home page is really vital. So, if there are multiple documents to be included in the home page, choose the most relevant page with the highest Page Rank.
For more information about website link optimization, please visit “Next Step:Optimizing Site URLs”
Anchor Text Optimization
Anchor text is the visible text of a hyperlink. Search engines use anchor text as a significant component to determine what a web page is all about. If thousands of sites link to a page on your site, with the anchor text of “Search Engine Optimization”, search engines are going to conclude that this page is most likely about “Search Engine Optimization”. Google and other search engines mainly concentrate their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) towards the anchor text of links to a page. The following section explains this with examples.
The HTML code for the link to our home page (http://bobcares.com) with the anchor text “Bobcares.com” will be
The text Bobcares.com is the anchor text for this hyperlink.
You must get lots of sites to link to your site and vice versa. In both these situations, you have to determine the anchor text on these links. Let us check both situations here.
On site Anchor Link Text
From your site hierarchy, identify the topics and pages . In addition, you should pick titles and headers which use the keywords for each given page.
If you have a page about “support plans”, the most popular keywords related to it are: “support plans”, “dedicated support plans” and “shared support plans”. Try to work these 3 variants into your title and header. Since “support plans” (#1 variant) is the common keyword, it should be the anchor link text you use on your site to link to this page. So every link on the site should use the anchor link text “support plans”.
Anchor Text in links from Other Sites
When Search Engines evaluate the links to your site, they do a lot of pattern analysis. Some of the common interesting ideas they might follow are:
- The rate at which you are adding new links to your website
- The rate at which your competitor is adding new links
- The relevance of linking their page to your website
- The anchor text in the links to your page
So it is very important to properly decide which anchor text to use.
Value of Anchor Text
Let us imagine that, one million sites/pages are linked to the Bobcares home page and that is the reason why the site rank is high. Those SERPs are due to the power of the anchor text.
An optimized site with poor use of anchor text links will be just OK to go. But a site with good use of anchor text/links can do quite well, even if it has poor site optimization
Effective use of Anchor Text
Anchor text should show the content that it is linking to, and it should help the page from where it is linked as well.
- You can link related pages together as they will do much better in their respective SERPs
- If you can add related links from a related page with appropriate Anchor Text, that will be good .
- It is a good idea to keep site navigation, main page links, and “Back to Home” links using Anchor Text.
- Always use optimized Anchor Text.
Alt Attributes of Image Links
The alt text of image links is equivalent to the anchor text of text links. That is, when a link to the page is part of an image, you should add relevant alt text to the alt attribute. Suppose you have a situation similar to a menu, where it’s not possible to use a good keyword or rich anchor text. You can just use the Alt tag as follows
<a href="[link here]“><img src=”[image source]” alt=”keywords here” /></a>
Here the image will be displayed on the web while the keyword rich alt attributes are visible to the Search Engines.
Content Optimization Tips
From the above discussion, we can see that content optimization is a continuous process of monitoring and updating. Let me just summarize the content optimization process below:
- Make your content as interesting as possible for readers and not search engines.
- Create a page title that is interesting and eye catching.
- Use Unique and Quality Content.
- Content Frequency: Adding new content on a regular basis increases the amount of pages that can be indexed by search engines.
- Create supplemental content like FAQ pages, how-to pages, glossary and related articles, about page etc.
- Use a description meta tag.
- Use the main key phrase you are targeting on every page, except for the home page.
- Include keywords in the text.
- Consider 5-20% density of keywords in the text .
- Use key phrases in your hyperlinks.
- Concentrate on formatting of the text: Use Bold, Italics and Heading tags for headings and other important sections on your web page.
- Embrace Header Tags
- Use images and links along with proper ALT tags within the content.
- Add relevant content to the site regularly.
- Promote the content through RSS.
- Maintain content transparency at all times.
- And above all, always keep an eye on competitors and how they get ranked for the same keywords.
Here is a list of things to avoid while writing web pages.
- Don’t mask heading tags: It is fine to use CSS to adjust heading and content. But don’t use CSS to mask headings or keywords. Your site may either get black listed or be reported as a spamming site.
- Avoid duplicate content (Example: Doorway pages): Only one copy of a syndicated article should get ranked in search results. Always avoid duplicate content as it will affect the search result badly.
- Do not put two headlines immediately adjacent to each other.
- Try not to go more than three levels deep in nesting subheads and avoid going more than four levels.
- Don’t leave the title of your page as “Untitled”. You should give an appropriate title to your page always.
- Use unique captions for each image.
- Avoid using too many graphics.
- Reciprocal Linking: Reciprocal links are not bad (as they are part of a natural community). But exclusively relying on them is an unnatural pattern.
- Limit your keyword usage to 2 or 3 keywords per page.
- Avoid the overuse of flash movies: Flash and all other embeddings are wonderful stuff because they help to beautify and communicate. But don’t express all your ideas through them since search bots won’t get at all those precious key words.
Content Optimization Tools
There are a lot of online tools available to create, compare and analyze website content. Here are some of the popular tools. You can also refer the other articles for link optimization and ranking tools.
Google Website Optimizer
Google’s free website testing and optimization tool, allows you to increase the value of your existing website and traffic.
Keyword density analyzer
This shows your keyword density and placement. The tool features options to show page headers, page elements, outgoing links, Google Pagerank, the guessed language and location of the server and more!
Page Comparison Tool
This tool compares page titles, meta information and most common two or three word phrases among different pages.
Used to check whether all links on your website still validate. You can also use this tool to check for broken links.
Compares two files to find differences. You can use this to check search engine positions and find a mistake that is in one file but not in the other by looking at the differences.
About the Author :
Vipindas, works as a Senior Software Engineer in Bobcares. He joined Bobcares in September 2006, and is an expert in developing web based Java and PHP applications. He is highly passionate about software architectures and design patterns. On the cultural front, Vipin is a great singer and loves to tap his feet to any music on stage.