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Content and Keywords Important for Search Engine Optimization

When you’re working on your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), you don’t necessarily have to pick through the HTML code for your web page to evaluate how search engine–friendly it is. You can find out a lot just by looking at the web page in the browser.

Determine whether you have any text on the page. Page content — text that search engines can read — is essential, but many websites don't have any page content on the front page and often have little or none on interior pages. Here are some potential problems:

  • Embedding much of the text on your site into images, rather than relying on readable text

  • Banking on flashy visuals to hide the fact that your site is light on content

  • Using the wrong keywords

If you have these types of problems, they can often be time-consuming to fix. Following are some ways you might overcome the problems.

Replace images with real text for SEO success

If you have an image-heavy website, in which all or most of the text is embedded onto images, you need to get rid of the images and replace them with real text. If the search engine can't read the text, it can't index it.

It may not be immediately clear whether text on the page is real text or images. You can quickly figure it out a couple of ways:

  • Try to select the text in the browser with your mouse. If it's real text, you can select it character by character. If it’s not real text, you simply can’t select it — you’ll probably end up selecting an image.

  • Right-click the text, and if you see menu options, such as Save Image and Copy Image, you know it’s an image, not text.

The light-content issue can be a real problem. Some sites are designed to be light on content, and sometimes this approach is perfectly valid in terms of design and usability. However, search engines have a bias for content — that is, for text they can read. In general, the more text — with the right keywords — the better.

Use the right keywords in the right places

Suppose that you do have text, and plenty of it. But does the text have the right keywords? Where keywords are placed and what they look like is also important. Search engines use position and format as clues to importance. Here are a few simple techniques you can use — but don't overdo it!

  • Use keywords in folder names and filenames, and in page files and image files.

  • Use keywords near the top of the page.

  • Place keywords into <H> (heading) tags.

  • Use bold and italic keywords; search engines take note of these.

  • Put keywords into bulleted lists; search engines also take note of this.

  • Use keywords multiple times on a page, but don't use a keyword or keyword phrase too often. If your page sounds really clumsy through over-repetition, it may be too much.

Ensure that the links between pages within your site contain keywords. Think about all the sites you’ve visited recently. How many use links with no keywords in them? They use buttons, graphic navigation bars, short little links that you have to guess at, click here links, and so on. Big mistakes.

Some writers have suggested that you should never use “click here” because it sounds silly and people know they’re supposed to click. However, research shows that using the words can sometimes increase the number of clicks on a particular link. However, for search-engine purposes, you should rarely, if ever, use a link with only the words click here in the link text; you should include keywords in the link.

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