A guest blog from Rachel Williams, professional copywriter.
In my last post I shared my top 10 tips for writing good content, but made no mention of search engine optimisation (SEO) – a deliberate omission because it’s worthy of its own article. So this article should perhaps be subtitled ‘my 11th top 10 tip’!
Search engine visibility is what every business, big or small, strives to achieve – getting a top ranking in a search engine’s index means more visitors will find you and the potential conversion rate of visitors into customers is then that much greater. So it’s all about structuring your site so that it’s picked up by the search engines’ crawlbots work their way through the web, indexing text and adding data to a database that can then be searched.
I won’t go into all the technical back-end details of SEO (and I know Sarah has more qualified associates who can!), but there’s a few things that you can do yourself ‘on the page’ to improve your website’s search engine rankings.
The first thing to establish is a list of keywords – what specific words or phrases might your audience type into Google in order to find your type of business and what words or phrases will most accurately describe your products or services? If location plays a part in your service, then make sure you include that in your list of keywords as well e.g. Chartered Accountants in Guildford. You can refine your list by testing them on a free tool (the Keyword Tool used for Google AdWords is a good one) to help you identify other related search terms.
A quick tip: test out your final list before you go ahead with writing your content. See what comes up when you type them into different search engines – do your competitors appear in the findings? If they do, then chances are you’ve hit on the relevant search terms. It’s also worth spending some time actually looking at competitor websites, especially those that have a high ranking – can you spot the keywords and phrases they are using and can you learn anything from what they are doing?
This is also a good exercise to see how your own website performs in comparison and will provide a benchmark for your new and improved content – it’ll give you a good ‘before’ snapshot.
Once you have your keywords – and they may need to vary from one page to another – they need to be introduced into your content, page titles, headings and sub-headings.
Search engines like text and the ideal is about 500 words per page. Place your keywords high up in the page and aim for a density of 7-10%. Anything more and your content will suffer in terms of quality and you could be penalised for ‘keyword stuffing’ i.e. using keywords indiscriminately and to the detriment of the content. I tend to concentrate on two or three keywords per page and weave them in to the content as naturally as possible. The important thing to remember is that you are writing for humans – including keywords is important but not at the expense of quality content that delivers a strong message to your audience.
Once you’ve updated your website you should monitor its performance and make refinements if need be. And always keep a record of your position in the major search engines for each keyword so that you can track any improvement in ranking. It does take time to organically improve your ranking on search engines, so don’t be too hasty in making changes until you’re sure they need to be made.
Are you keeping an eye on your search engine ranking? Can you see an improvement by doing some SEO work on your content? I’d love to hear how you get on.