If you are already familiar with the concept of SEO optimized content, then this article is probably not for you. In fact, if you are an SEO expert then you may very well know something I don’t, in which case I would love to hear from you. In a nutshell, I am writing this article for beginners; for those people who are only now starting to find their feet in this ever changing, and often confusing field.
Why Is Search Engine Optimization Important?
If you intend making money from your website, then you will need to do whatever it takes in order to get your site onto the first page of search results, or as close to the first page as possible. No matter what search terms a user types into the search box, you want them to be able to see your site listed if your site is relevant to their search.
You want as many different search words and search word phrases as possible earning you a favorable position with the search engines. If you are expecting this to be easy, I’m sorry to say but you are going to be miserably disappointed. Even the most experienced SEO expert in the world cannot guarantee getting their site or anyone else’s site for that matter, onto the front page of search results.
Sure you want people to come and spend money on your site, but always remember that Google and the other big players will always favor those sites which they consider to be of the most value to their users. SEO is all about getting Google and the gang to like your site.
SEO Optimized Content
There are many aspects to search engine optimization, but since this article is meant to be about SEO optimized articles, that is what we’ll be focusing on. From here on in, when I refer to content, I’m referring to articles that appear on your own website, or on third party websites.
If you have been searching around online for information about SEO, you will almost certainly have seen the saying “Content is King” somewhere or other. This is a commonly used phrase in SEO circles because it is a fact and very true indeed.
However, when it comes to creating optimized content, the SEO rules have changed. Just a few years ago, it never really mattered how your articles were written, so long as they were optimized for the search engines. Poor grammar and poor spelling meant virtually nothing, and even articles that never delivered any real value at all could help to improve your search rankings.
These days Google and the gang don’t want you to focus only on optimizing for search engines. They want content to be optimized for your readers instead. Let’s just say that Search Engine Optimization has transformed into being People Based Search Engine Optimization.
When people ask me about this, I tell them to put real life people before the search engines. Write your articles for people to read and give your readers something they can really use. Believe me; the search engines will pick up on it.
Wikipedia vs. EBay (example)
Don’t get me wrong, I love Ebay, but the site is a great example of just how much “internet search” has changed. Just a few years ago you would frequently see EBay listings appearing in search results. These days you rarely see this happening. Instead, you see Wikipedia. Why?
You see Wikipedia instead because Wikipedia provides real information that is of value. As far as the search engines are concerned, information is more valuable than products or services. If you are promoting a law firm of course you can advertise your services, but you need to give your site visitors more than just a menu. Give your visitors some genuinely useful information and you will benefit.
Okay, so you are ready to share your knowledge but is there anything else you can do to influence the search engines?
Keywords & Keyword Phrases
Keywords and keyword phrases lie at the heart of content optimization. These are the words and phrases people are most likely to type into search boxes when they’re searching for the type of product or service you are offering via your website, or if they are searching for relevant information. Get those keywords or keyword phrases in your articles but be careful not to overdo it.
Remember, if a keyword or a keyword phrase is used more times in an article than it ought to be you may get away with it, but if the same words or phrases are being stuffed into every article you publish on your site then you are going to get penalized. The text in the box below is a true account of an experience I recently had with a client. If you don’t feel like reading it, just move on to the next section where I discuss Optimum Keyword Density.
I recently worked for the owner of a well established (56 years) company that specializes in Egyptian tour packages. Despite my numerous warnings, the company had used the same or similar keywords and keyword phrases over and over again on literally hundreds of pages during a full site makeover. Needless to say, the site virtually disappeared entirely from search results. Yep, Google penalized the site. Prior to this, the site had consistently ranked on page 1; 2 or 3.
I shouldn’t really complain because it resulted in me getting a lot more work as we tried to repair the damage, but I can’t help thinking how unnecessary it was. I should also add that this took place at the beginning of this year, and to date, the site still hasn’t managed to rank within the first 10 pages of search results. Be warned, you can ruin your search ranking overnight, but repairing the damage can take a very long time indeed.
When you have nearly 2000 pages relating to tour packages and Nile River cruises in Egypt, you honestly don’t need to lose any sleep over a lack of keywords. Google and the other search engines will know your site revolves around vacations in Egypt and they’ll know how much effort you have obviously put into creating so many pages. In a case like this keyword stuffing is DEFINITELY not necessary, and neither will it be tolerated.
Optimum Keyword Density
Countless SEO experts still continue to tell people that optimum keyword density ranges from 1% to 3%. Today, I’m here to tell you that 1 to 3 percent keyword density IS NOT the optimum density.
There are simply too many variables which make it impossible to provide a general % keyword or keyword phrase density. Ten years ago, focusing on keyword density used to pay dividends. Today, it is all about using your keywords “NATURALLY” without you having to force them in. If you really must use your keywords or keyword phrases several times in an article in order for that article to be a quality article, then go ahead and use them. However, if you don’t have to use them, then having them once or twice in the body of your article is ideal.
It is also a good idea to use synonyms and different variations of your keyword phrases. Let’s use the phrase “Increasing Traffic to your Site” as an example. In the body of my article I could use this phrase as many times as I need to in order to explain myself, but it would be better for me to only use it once or twice, along with variations of the phrase such as:
- Drive more traffic to your site
- Increasing site traffic
- Driving more visitors to your site
- Get more traffic
- Boost traffic to your website
This is just a simple example but I’m sure you get the picture. Using variations of your keywords and/or keyword phrases minimizes the chances of you being penalized for keyword spamming or search spamming or keyword stuffing, and it also makes your content more interesting and more readable for your audience.
A title tag is simply the title you give to your article. It is the title that shows up in search results, and it’s the title your readers will see in their browser windows. This is the most important place to have your keywords, but you need to be careful how you do it.
Remember, your primary goal is to make sure that your title accurately describes what your article is about. It MUST make sense to your readers! Yes you do want your primary keywords or keyword phrase in there, but only if they can be used as part of an accurate description.
Most people who are familiar with SEO optimized copywriting will tell you that your titles should contain between 60 and 65 characters. However, I personally advise against using more than 50 characters just to be on the safe side. As you can see, you really have to make each and every letter count while at the same time fitting your keywords in there.
Headings & Sub-Headings
Most people who are regularly involved with SEO, including myself, will agree that it is a good idea to use your keywords or keyword phrases in headings and sub-headings. I’m not saying your keywords should appear in all heading and sub-headings, but it is generally recommended that you use them at least once in one of your headings. To take full advantage of this, you use “h2” tags.
SEO experts have long considered title tags to be important, but many of them started shying away from this tactic when HTML5 arrived on the scene, and because of Google clamping down on cheap SEO tactics that were being used to manipulate search rankings. The good news is that Matt Cutts from GoogleTM publicly announced that the use of title tags remains acceptable, but again, overuse should be avoided.
Using h1 & h2 Tags in WordPress
I can’t explain the procedure for every single type of platform in this article, so I’ll just briefly explain how to use these tags in WordPress seeing that WordPress is so popular.
When you have finished typing or pasting your article into WordPress, click on the tab near the top of the page that says HTML. This will allow you to see the HTML version of your article. In front of your main title, type in <h1> and at the end of the title, type in </h1>.
Now if you go back and you look at the standard view again, you will notice that the look of that title has changed. You can do the same thing with all subtitles as well, but rather than using the h1 tag, you would use h2 or h3 tags. I normally recommend using your keywords or keyword phrase once in an h2 title, and perhaps once in a h3 subtitle. H1 tag already gets used in the main title so repeated use of h1 tag is not permitted in an article from a SEO perspective.
A “URL” is basically your article’s address in cyberspace. This is what you always see in the address bar at the top of your browser window every time you visit a web page. If you just go ahead and post an article on your website, the URL for that page will simply be a long string of letters and others characters which only computers are able to understand.
If your goal is to create SEO optimized articles, then you need to make sure your primary keyword or keyword phrase appears in the URL address. Fortunately, this is not very difficult to do, especially if you happen to have a WordPress site set up. It really is just a matter of point and click.
SEO optimized URLs make sense to human readers because they essentially tell your readers what they can expect to find on the page they have just landed on. Optimized URLs also make sense to the search engines, but again, don’t overdo it.
You also need to avoid optimizing multiple URLs with the same keywords or keyword phrases. If you use the same keywords or keyword phrases in more than one URL you run the risk of having one or more of your pages flagged as duplicate content.
SEO & Images
You’re probably sick of reading by now, so I’ll keep this last bit short and sweet. It is no secret that the search engines like pages that contain images. I guess it is because people generally love pictures, and if they are valuable to internet users, then the search engines are going to take this into account.
You can give your optimized articles an additional boost by including one or more images, but you can give them an even bigger boost if you optimize the names of your images. I’m sure you have seen the .jpg that appears at the end of image names when you are working with digital images.
For example, if you have a Canon camera, a photo you take might be assigned a name along the lines of CA00001.jpg. To optimize your images for search engines, simply replace the first part of the original name with your keywords or keyword phrases. Now the name of your image will be your keyword.jpg. Apart from this, you need to also include the keyword phrase and its variations in the ALT tag of an image. I will talk more about this in another article in this series.
I sincerely hope that I’ve managed to at least share something of value with you in this post, and thanks for taking the time to read it – Happy Optimizing.