Friday, March 20, 2009

How to Write SEO-Friendly Web Copy

Optimizing the copy on your website doesn’t mean stuffing it with keywords so that it’s an unreadable mess. This is a spam technique which can harm your site’s ranking. Google encourages webmasters to “make pages primarily for users, not for search engines,” so your first goal is to write for your target audience, bearing in mind the factors valued by the search engines (in much the same way that you might follow, or sometimes ignore, the rules of grammar in order to effectively communicate a message).

Here are a few tips for integrating keywords into your copy without sacrificing the overall quality of your writing:

  • Use as many or as few words as you need to use to say what you need to say. However, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for copy that’s approximately 250 words in length. This gives you enough room to get your message across while naturally working in 3 to 5 mentions of the keyword.
  • Use keyword variations. Let’s say your keyword phrase is “big blue widgets”. Instead of repeating “big blue widgets” over and over again, switch things up so some of the mentions appear as “large blue widgets”, “full-sized widgets in blue”, and so forth. This makes your copy read more naturally and helps your website show up for related keywords.
  • If you’re a brick-and-mortar store that’s trying to rank for local search queries, place your address in the footer of each page, but also mention your location somewhere in the page copy. You could place your address in the footer as “700 Success Road, Princeton, NJ 08542”, then mention the areas you serve in your body copy (“serving Middlesex and Mercer counties” or “serving New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania”)
  • Include keyword mentions in your headers. Header tags (H1, H2, etc.) are a great way to define your page’s structure and emphasize keyword phrases. (This is also helpful because people read differently on the Internet than they do on paper. Try to keep things scannable with headers, lists, and bullet points.)
  • Include keyword mentions in your hyperlinks. Instead of saying “Click here for more information on our widgets” with the link embedded on “click here”, try writing “Visit our big blue widgets page for more information” so the link is embedded on “big blue widgets page”. This gets the point across to the reader while letting you work in another keyword mention. It also helps with SEO because the search engines look to link anchor text as an indication that a page should rank for a particular keyword.

By keeping these optimization tips in mind as you write, you can easily create copy that appeals to your readers and is also SEO-friendly.

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