Search Engine Optimization is as much an art as a science. The complex algorithms of the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN are constantly changing and adapting, and we SEO specialists must change with it. One important SEO principle that never changes, however, is the importance of strong website content.
Content, or copy, is the words, sentences and paragraphs you use to invite users to your site and describe the services and products you offer. Not only is strong content crucial to enticing users and leading them through the conversion process, (the action you want them to perform such as purchasing a product or signing up for a newsletter), but it also tells the search engines what your site is about.It is critical that you use clear descriptions of the products you offer and the main themes of your business in order to allow search engines to understand and place your site prominently under relevant key search terms.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to any site owner who wants his or her site to rank strongly on the search engines is to develop a list of key words and phrases BEFORE writing content for their website. Take some time to really think about the purpose of your site and what type of users you want to find you. Imagine that you are in their shoes looking for your site. What words would they type into a search engine? The more detailed you can get, the better. General terms like “lamps,” “real estate,” and “purses” apply to thousands if not hundreds of thousands of websites. It will be incredibly difficult to push your site to the top under such general terms, especially when you are competing against large retail sites that have huge budgets and dedicated SEO specialists on their staff. Think of terms and phrases that apply to you, but might not apply to as many other sites.
If you specialize in crystal lamps and you have stores located in Colorado, some of your key phrases can be “crystal lamps,” “crystal lamps in Colorado,” “beautiful crystal lamps,” “great deals on crystal lamps,” etc… There are definitely less websites devoted to beautiful crystal lamps in Colorado then for a general term like lamps. You will be competing for rankings against a much smaller pool of websites and are therefore more likely to rank higher on the major search engines.
Make the list of terms as long as you like initially. Once you can’t think of any more phrases, go through and pick out the ones that most define your company and the products and services that you offer. Remember, always think like a potential customers. Make sure that these are terms they would actually put into a Google or Yahoo! search engine. The more technical you get, the less likely people are going to search for it. On the up side, highly technical phrases will have less competition on the search engines. As you see, it is a constant balancing act between general words that lots of people will search but relate to large number of competing websites and more complex and specific phrases that will net less people but be less competitive to place under.
The best thing to do is to write natural content aimed at customers. Keep those key words and phrases handy in your mind or on a nearby notepad as you write. Any place where they would logically fit without making the sentence forced or awkward, use them. There is no magic number of times to use a word or phrase that automatically guarantees a top search engine ranking. Using each phrase or word a couple of times per page will be enough to catch the search engine’s attention. Hopefully, you are also utilizing other SEO practices that will combine with strong content to get your site to the top.
Remember, strong content is an important component of SEO, but it is only one aspect in a well-developed SEO strategy. If you are struggling with your rankings or, even better, are just starting to build your site and want to incorporate a strong SEO campaign from the beginning, consider working with an SEO specialist.