One of the most common questions we get from clients (and from each other!) is, "How can a site get noticed by Google?" It's a testament to Google's dominance in the search market that, as web developers, many of the decisions we make are driven by the need to catch Google's eye. But it's also to Google's credit that its search algorithms give weight to what are really best practices for writing content on the web.
The days of gaming the Google system are (almost) over! The engineers at Mountain View have made great strides in identifying and removing pages that use link spamming, content scraping, keyword stuffing and other dubious methods to boost their search results. Best of all, Internet users are better at recognizing at a glance which pages contain useful content and which are junk. What we've found can be summarized: search engines like useful content and useful content is well-written content. So let's talk about writing content for the web!
Where to begin?
- Write naturally
- Write for Real Humans
- Write with proper grammar and spelling
- Write headers that are structured consistently
- Write in an even, consistent tone appropriate to your subject and audience
Identifying and placing keywords is crucial, but if copy fails on any of the above, no SEO voodoo can save it.
As for the selecting keywords:
Put yourself in your potential customers' or readers' shoes. What are they searching for? Real Humans search for “carpet cleaners,” not “residential carpet cleaning services.”
Consider geography. Is your target audience within a city or a collection of counties? A region? Most importantly, how would your target audiences define their area? Real Humans search for “Chinese restaurants in Charlottesville” not “Chinese restaurants in Simeon.” (I live in Simeon, but nobody calls it that!)
Drill down to a useful level of detail and no further. A user might search for “hardware rental” and would be more likely to specify “pressure washer rental,” but they would almost certainly not search for “Shark TRS-3500 rental.”
And finally, once you have selected a good slate of keywords, use them. Don’t junk up the site with empty emotive copy that doesn’t really say anything!
The Ivy Group also offers a full "Writing for the Web" seminar. Contact us if you're interested.