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Writing content for search engines

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tips & Tricks, standards, secrets, etc for writing search engine friendly content is something that is greatly debated and will vary from person to person. In this article I will discuss what I have found as effective ways to write SEO friendly content. The statements I make in this article are not a compilation of other SEO articles, but from my extremely successful experience and very long career in the field.

Write content for your visitors, not the search engines:

When you're writing the content for your website, don't worry about how the search engines are going to read it. I've found often times with SEO fix jobs, that when someone writes contents for the search engines rather than the visitor, they end up doing more harm than good. Visitors can tell right away when something is written for a search engine as it is very hard to follow with all of the keywords used. This in turn will make visitors jump from your site, in turn hurting you even more in the engines. Which leads me to my next point, keyword density.


Keyword density, it's not all it is cracked up to be:

On almost every SEO tip website you visit, you'll see something in regards to keyword density and that you should have a certain percentage on your site. I call BS. There is no documentation released anywhere by any search engine that states what percentage of your content needs to be your keywords. Now I'm not saying that you don't need to use your keywords, because you do, I'm simply saying - don't try to fit extra keywords in there to reach a density level. Generally, when you write your content for visitors and not search engines, you will be fine on your keywords. Remember, I'm not saying you don't need to use your keywords, you just need to use them as many times as you need to get the point across. Which leads me into my next point, how and where to use your keywords.


How and where to use your keywords:

Remember, this article is written based on my successful experience, not a collection of SEO tips from the Internet. In my experience, I find that the most important places for your keywords are not just "above the fold" as you'll see on many other sites, but in the first paragraph. Many times, people make the mistake of having a "Welcome" paragraph talking about the history of a business, that is not the place for it, that's why you have an "about" or "company" page. Your first paragraph should describe your services or products while linking to them. For example a plant nursery in Fort Myers, Florida would want something like this:

Fort Myers Plant Nursery and Supplies

Smith Nursery is a fully stocked plant nursery. We offer many types of plants such as flowers, annuals and perennials, plams, trees, grasses, shrubs, fruit trees, and those native to Florida! We also stock everything needed to care for and install your plants. We carry various fertilizers including those for palms and citrus trees. We also stock gardening tools, decorative pots, portable sprayers, chemicals, nutrients, and more. Please visit our plant nursery located on Main Street in Fort Myers, FL.

In the example above, the bolded header would be the H1 tag. The comma separated products and services should be linked to their respective pages. This is going to be the single most important block of text on your website. There are also several things you should do regarding the title attributes of the tags, however, you can refer to my article "Top 10 Tips For Best On-Site SEO"  to read more about that. This is an article just for content, so I won't go into it again in this article.

This also directly relates to all of your pages, not just your homepage. The first paragraph and header title on the page is your chance to get your page keywords the best exposure, but don't try to stuff them and link where necessary. This takes me to the next topic, inner-linking and how to do it.


Inner linking and how to do it correctly:

This is something that is pretty accurate across many of the SEO tips and tricks sites. Linking to your other pages within your own content is always a must. This helps to establish your PageRank. However, you don't want to do it everytime you see the chance. If you are discussing a topic, and there is a page dedicated to the topic in your site, link to it. However, if you mention the same keyword in the next sentence, you don't need to link to it again. Another good trick in doing this is to bold the words that you are linking. There is no documentation supporting that bolding words helps your chance with rankings, but it doesn't hurt and it does help the keyword pop out to the visitor.


Is content still king?

I'm sure you've heard the expression "Content Is King!". Many SEO companies will tell you this, however, in my experience I'm finding this not as accurate as it used to be. Years and years ago, this was very true. Nowadays, the search engines are so sophisticated with their algorithms, that large amounts of content really has little effect on the ranking. Now I'm not saying that you can just write a few lines of text and you're good to go, but you don't have to write 10 paragraphs about one topic so search engines think your site has more valuable content. Their algorithms take so many things into effect and content length is fading away.


I'm sure many people can and will debate some of the techniques I use and have pointed out. But like I said, these are what I have seen work first hand in both national and local organic rankings. If you have any questions regarding other SEO content techniques or anything else SEO, feel free to leave it in the comments.

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