Write Useful, Relevant Body Content for Better Search Engine Rankings

The content you use in your Web pages weighs heavily in search engine rankings. Spiders cannot see images, watch videos, listen to podcasts, fill out forms, or use any other advanced features of your Web site, and so it's imperative that you have enough sentence-structured text content on your page for a search engine to adequately determine what your page is about.

A good rule of thumb is to plan for a minimum of 450 words of good, relevant, useful text content on your important pages. Your content should always be unique to the page it's on and should naturally incorporate the keywords found in your title, description, and headings. The reason for this is simple: The first three tags define what the page is about; therefore, it is only logical that those words are repeated again in the text content on your site. Don't fall into the trap of discussing something without ever naming what it is or relying on the images on the page to provide context. Remember that the search engines aren't able to look at the picture and understand what you're talking about. If your page is about Ford Mustangs, you need more than a picture of the car to let the search engines know that. Say what you mean.

Use synonyms and related words to reinforce your keywords. When discussing shoes, you should also be using words that help define what sort of shoes. Are the related words heel, leather, instep, size, and designer? Or are they horse, anvil, iron, and mare? You can see that many very different mental pictures are painted by placing the keyword shoes in context.

While the search engines might be happy to read your 50,000-word opus, you need to keep in mind user fatigue. If you find yourself discussing several topics on a very long page, you might consider breaking it up into two or more pages. This adds depth to your site by expanding the number of pages you have on a keyword phrase and also allows you to manage the site's themes.

When it comes to formatting the text on your page, people tend to scan text on the Internet. Keep paragraphs short and direct. Give the facts as concisely as possible. Customers don't want to spend a long time reading if the Web page isn't going to satisfy their requirements. Tell your customers who you are, what your product is, and why they should choose you over your competitors. Use lists, bold, and italicized text to direct your visitors' eyes to important words and concepts.

There are lots of themes for you to write on and many topics available for you to write about. For e-commerce sites, this might include a well-written product description, user reviews, tips and tricks, or the inclusion of some frequently asked questions.

Remember that most people on the Web are there to do research. You should address the concerns that your visitors may have and give them a reason to buy whatever you are selling (literally or figuratively). Search engines look for research words, like how to and tips as markers that indicate that page will satisfy a user doing research.

Write your first draft with the page's keywords in mind. Use your keywords as a guide for the content. Tape them to the side of your monitor or put them at the very top of the document so they're on your mind as you write. Don't worry about keyword densities or forcing the words in. If it doesn't sound natural to use the keyword, don't use it. The first draft is just to get the information out.

Take a look at the tone of your piece:

  • Match your audience. Are you writing to the right audience? Baby boomers and teenagers have very different ways of expressing themselves, not to mention widely different cultural touchstones, and writing the same way to each of them is probably not going to work. You have to speak their language.

  • Engage the reader. Your content should get the user involved and offer them ways to connect to the material.

  • Solve a problem. Does your content solve a problem or help the customer make a decision? Fighting fear, doubt, and uncertainty increase your conversions as visitors learn to trust you.

  • Educate. If you're in a highly technical area where your customer isn't likely to know enough to ask intelligent questions, have you educated them enough to feel comfortable in making their decision?

Revise your draft with these ideas in mind. Knowing your audience means putting in the kinds of words that they will be looking for: the same kinds of words that help them understand what the best choice of products is for them.

After your next draft, ask someone else to read it over for you. The best person for this task is someone who fits the profile of a site visitor. Have them read it aloud to see if it is easily readable and answers their questions in an easy to understand way. If not, revise the content to meet their understanding. You might even find that you're going to need another page of content in order to answer their questions.

After you have a final draft, incorporate your final product into the destination page, and use a page rating tool to determine the validity and strength of the document. Tweak it if necessary. Keep in mind how the content supports the Web site theme as a whole.

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