How to Get Top Search Engine Rankings – Part 4
Content is Everything!
There’s a saying in the SEO community, “content is king”. That means that what’s most important to the search engines is what you have on your page. The substance of your page, the paragraphs that make up an article or the descriptions of products, is the content. As far as the engines are concerned, the more content text the better, because the more words on a page the better job they can do of figuring out what a page is about.
You should have at least 1000 words on a page. 250 words should be considered an absolute bare minimum. You can’t communicate much value with only 250 words.
Make sure your product or service is mentioned and linked to, but don’t hit customers over the head with it. People hate being advertised to. They’ll be more receptive if they feel that you’re trying to help them make a good choice than if they feel you’re just trying to sell them something.
SEO is basically two parts:
- Putting your keywords on your page
- Getting inbound links.
The first part is referred to as on-page factors.
Don’t latch onto the items below and forget everything I’ve said about focusing on creating quality content and ignoring the specifics about how search engines rank pages. Just remember that knowing that keywords work better when placed near the top of the page (for example) does not absolve you from creating the best site possible.
The most important on-page factor is the <TITLE> tag. Most engines place a greater weight on keywords in this tag than keywords anywhere else on the page. Armed with this knowledge, some webmasters try to exploit this feature by stuffing dozens of keywords into their TITLE tags. Not surprisingly, such a crude method usually doesn’t work. Google isn’t stupid. If there are a gazillion words in the TITLE, Google will probably figure that it’s an SEO trick and not rank it well.
The general feeling is that a <TITLE> should contain your most important keywords, shouldn’t contain any individual keyword more than twice, should have the most important words as far to the left as possible, and shouldn’t be much longer than what shows in the SERPs (~64 characters). In addition, your <TITLE> should also be inviting to searchers, since you’re hoping they’ll click it when they see it in the SERPs.
<H1, H2, H3>
Next in importance are heading tags. Engines generally figure that things in headings tags must be what a page is about, so use the heading tags to identify the different sections of your articles. Don’t try to fool the engines by putting your whole page in headings tags and then making it readable with CSS, or sprinkling heading tags gratuitously throughout the page. Instead, use heading tags where they make sense. Try an H1 tag for the main title of the page, and H2 and H3 tags for section headings. A heading tag on its own somewhere, with no real content following it, probably won’t count for much.
Adequate body copy
Body copy refers to the prose on your site — the paragraphs of text, as opposed to the menus, footer, etc. In general, the more body copy the better. Search engines love words, because that’s what they analyze. The more words on the page, the better chance the engine has of figuring out what the page is about, the more confident it is that there’s actually useful content on the page, and the more chances you have of matching visitors’ search terms when they use extra words in their searches. Go for 1000 words or more, but absolutely no fewer than 250.
Some webmasters claim that you should try for good keyword density, a theoretical desirable ratio of the number of times your keywords appear to the total number of words on the page. Like most SEO topics, this one is hotly debated. The truth is that no one outside of the engines really knows under what circumstances keyword density is evaluated and how it winds up being evaluated when it is.
The closer your keywords are to the top of the page the better, especially if you can get them into the first full sentence.
Search Engines usually like it when your content page links out to related pages on other sites, especially if those pages have a high PR. They may figure that if you’re linking to a known winner then perhaps you know what you’re talking about. They might also like the idea that you’re sharing resources by pointing visitors to other related information rather than trying to hoard all your visitors on your site without giving them a way out.
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Part 5 coming soon (Links and Linking Factors)