Search engines (e.g., Google) are the key to finding specific information on the vast expanse of the World Wide Web. Without sophisticated search engines, it would be virtually impossible to locate anything on the Web without knowing a specific URL/web address.
One of the main ways that search engines create results for search queries is based on content relevance. Relevance relates to how close the content of any given web page matches the term being searched, which takes into consideration factors such as the page title tag, headings, paragraph text, and anchor/link text of links to the web page. The goal is to create more relevance to improve search engine ranking, as well as, of course, the ultimate goal of increased traffic and an influx of new clients/customers.
How are web pages made more relevant so that searchers will find your site? Search engines scan for the frequency and location of keywords (which are words that a searcher is typing into search engines — like Google — to find what they need) in the process of finding web pages that match any given search. Those web pages with a higher frequency of keywords in context are typically considered more relevant, therefore enabling a site to rank better in the search engines. For example, if a searcher wants to find boarding services for his or her dog, and lives in Springfield IL, that searcher might find your site/services online by typing terms in Google such as “pet boarding Springfield IL” …so if you have terms that correlate with the search query (service/product and location) integrated appropriately throughout your site, search engines will then consider your website a better match for that search query.
In optimizing your site for search engine relevance, keyword phrases should be included in each of your web page’s meta tags as well as link text, image tags, page headings, and, of course, any paragraph text. When adding or making changes to the page content on your site, consider the following tips:
- Relevance: Use language that is geared toward what the average person uses to search for your services, as opposed to technical terms, or what may be commonly used in your industry. The terms and the text need to be “client-focused” and “search-friendly” so that the searchers and search engines will easily find your website and services.
- Page headings: Include keywords in page headings/headlines of each page. It’s best if page headings are styled as “H1” in code of site.
- Links: Integrate keywords into link text (anchor text), so instead of “Click here to read more info about preventive care and pet wellness,” instead use “Read more about preventive care on the pet wellness page….”
- Keyword density: This is the percentage of the number of times a particular keyword or keyword phrase is used in comparison to the total amount of words in the article, page, or site. If your web page is devoted to selling a service, such as pet dental care, the SEO-savvy writer would insert the relevant keyword phrase “pet dental care” a certain number of times in the page/site. If the appropriate keywords are not included in the content, or if the keyword percentage rate is too low, the search engine may not pick up on the words that the searcher entered and the search will be useless. If the keywords have too high a density and the search engine detects keyword stuffing, the search engine can end up giving your site a poor showing in the rankings. Better to stay safely under 5% keyword density. If your keyword integration is an organic process that does not interfere with readability, you are on the right track.
- Location keywords: Don’t overlook the importance of including the locations (towns, sections of city) where you want to be found and not just service keywords.
- Formatting: Search engines reportedly pay more attention to bold/italic keywords. Use this for phrases that you really want to emphasize and, again, don’t sacrifice readability.
- Structure for the web (scanning): Readers of web pages primarily scan text, so shorter paragraphs, use of subheadings, bulleted lists, conversational tone, and presenting key points first will make it easier for readers to integrate what they are reading as well as find what they need.
- Number of words per page: We recommend at least 200 words of paragraph text per page (with keywords appropriately integrated, of course) and better if 250 to 500 words. Give search engines and readers of your website plenty of relevant copy to scan. Educational information, Q&A segments, and short case studies are easy to read, can fill out the page nicely, and provide ample opportunities to integrate keywords.
- Blogs: Search engines love blogs for their dynamic content. Make sure your content is “linkable” and search-engine friendly by providing helpful informational copy with keywords included in post titles, links, post URLs, tags, and, of course, paragraph text.
- Avoid unethical practices: Strategies like stuffing/hiding white keyword-laden text in white background of a website’s pages is considered unethical and against search engine guidelines. Don’t risk getting your site banned.
Needless to say, writing for search engines so that searchers can easily find your site is different than writing for print material. Web pages optimized for search engines and searchers take into account all of the above and enable more potential customers to easily find your website and services.
If you’d like to learn more or would like help optimizing your web site’s content, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!