The SEO Basics - Content Optimization
January 16, 2012 |
The phrase "content is king" is as relevant to the internet as it has been to other media. If your content is well optimized, your website will likely rank higher. To fully grasp the implications, definition, and uses for content optimization, read on.
Why is Content Optimization Important For SEO?
To understand the importance of content optimization, we must first understand the importance of content in general for webpages. To clarify this issue we should talk about how Google sees things. At the end of the day, Google is a program that excels at reading text. If you do not offer text for Google to read, Google may not know what your site is about, and how it should index your page or rank it on search results. In order to clarify what your site is about, you should have text on your page, and keywords which describe your content within that text.
What sets exceptional web sites apart from the crowd is the quality of on-page content. However, while this may be intuitive enough, there is often confusion surrounding this topic. The confusion mostly stems from the fact that people want to be ‘found on Google’ and employ various techniques to get high rankings in the search engine results. Sometimes people forget just how important content is. The signposts that Google uses to navigate, index, and rank websites –inlinks- are primarily based on content. Should we simplify things somewhat, links and rankings are related as follows: Person A likes the content of person B’s webpage, and so he links to it. In this fashion links are created, and the greater link popularity a webpage has, the higher Google is likely to rank it. It is unlikely that your site will be linked to heavily if your on page content is gobbledegook.
What is Content Optimization?
Content optimization is the SEO process involved in making the content on your page readable to humans and search engines
. Readable means that it will appear relevant to the search engine for search queries. Moreover, the content should help provide an easy structure for the on page information so that the information can be scanned and understood by readers, and as such will be more user friendly.
How Can I Use Content Optimization?
General Keyword Use
In the past, the placement of keywords on a page was one of the deciding factors of how a page would rank. The original logic that early search algorithms employed, was that the more frequently a keyword was used on a page, the more likely it should be that a searcher using that keyword would find the page relevant. When people understood this principle, they began to abuse it and started to use a method known as ‘keyword stuffing’. Today, keyword placement is still important, but not in the same way it used to be. Some more contemporary best practices are to use your keywords in your headers (h1) and sub headers (h2, h3, etc.), and to ensure that the keyword comes at the beginning of the title- to clarify to search engines that the keywords are essential to the topics discussed o your page. Finally, it is important to mention your keyword within the on-page content more than once, but to do so with tact. Some recommend that the keyword should be between 3 – 7% of the total number of words you have on a page; however, these numbers have never been proven and are widely disputed, because Google is constantly updating its algorithm.
One of the most important places to put keywords is in headers. In html code headers are defined as ‘h’, where the more senior the header, the higher the number it occupies. For example, the main header of the page will be labelled as h1, and the immediate sub header after that will be labelled h2. The sub headers after those will be labelled under h3. It is advisable to use sub headers and insert keywords tactfully in them in order to split up the information given, for search engines to see the hierarchy of the information given and that all paragraphs relate to the keyword topic, and importantly to allow those readers who prefer to scan to get a quicker impression of what the site is about. Something to be aware of is that it is important to make sure that there is only one h1 tag on the page.
Picture Tags and Inlinks
Some search engines do not currently have the ability to fully understand what images are, and therefore any information provided by the website that is strictly within an image is not helpful to search engines for gathering data on the site. For this reason, html code allows for the option of picture tags, or alt tags. These can be used for images and video to indicate to Google what exactly the video you are displaying is.
Inlinks that link to other parts of your website are also helpful in showing the reader what content you have written about on your website on related topics. A good method for scattering inlinks throughout your text is using anchor text which is related to the main keywords you are optimizing for, but a variation of those specific keywords. For example: Small [keyword] big [keyword] winter [keyword] summer [keyword], and so on. This method can help Google index the pages on your website by helping it understand how the pages can be found on your website.