What do you say we get back to my 10 part discussion of search engine optimization with part 4? It has been a while so a quick review of my take on SEO and other articles you’ll find:
Too many attempt to cover the variety of initiatives that demand attention in a list or summary without spending time to fully explain the unique optimization opportunities. I thought I’d take a different approach, getting into each of the top 10 SEO tactics in detail, then summarizing them when we’re done to create a collection of SEO guides. We’re on #4; the first three covered website accessibility (the most important consideration being that engines can’t index your site if they can’t find it), site popularity (you may be perfectly optimized – though everyone would argue that’s not possible – but if no one acknowledges you exist, engines won’t either), and page titles (now that you can be found, be descriptive).
I consider the fourth most important focus, content. “Content is king” (which rather contradicts my argument that page titles are most important so titles must be the President. Or maybe content is just a Prince… in truth, both are just as important so let’s call the Title Queen and Content King.
The content of your site should be well written, attractive, appealing, and considerate of your audience’s language. There are two extreme schools of thought to content. The first, argues that you should merely write good content and search engines will appropriately index your site. The second is labeled “keyword stuffing” or with less negativity, “keyword selection.” This position suggestions you should write content with the keywords people search as the focus while ensuring the are used repeatedly to increase keyword ‘density.’ I favor a mix of the two: content writers should not write copy in a vacuum nor should the focus be keywords.
Be considerate of language of your audience
(And I don’t mean English or Spanish)
Engines favor fresh, frequently updated content the helps ensure their results are timely. No one wants results from two years ago when more recent information is available. Your writers can’t keep pace with good, frequent updates if they are constantly researching keywords. As such, your job as SEO is to inform them of the preferred terms; in doing so, they become considerate of the words your audience prefers to use, their language. If your company prefers to call a product a “Pocket PC” but your customers call it a “PDA,” more people search for “PDA” so your content should refer to the product as such. Perhaps you deal in “legal advice” but more people are seeking a “Lawyer,” “autos” or “cars”?
Build a rapport with those that write and design your site such that your well-oiled machine writes copy while being aware of the language your audience uses, the terms that matter.
With that practice in place, you are doing what the best SEOs would argue is the most sensible optimization. Still, no SEO would be worth their salt without at least understanding the importance of keyword density in copy.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Google favors keywords to content in which those terms appear about 2% to 3% of the time, that is a keyword density of 2-3%. Part of my preference for the blended attention to content is that Yahoo! seems to prefer a much greater density level. The problem that presents of course, is that giving Yahoo! what it prefers may cause Google to scrutinize your effort, consider it spam, and deem your content as being stuffed with keywords. Certainly, Google and Yahoo realize this and I expect their algorithms accommodate such risks but why press it?
Write good content, be cognizant of your audience’s language, and remember Content is King (or was it Queen?).