SEO: It’s about content, not keywords

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SEO search results screen shot with No 1 ranked Blitz Media Design
The secret to search engine optimization can be summed up in three words:

Good, compelling content.

Were we to add one more word, we’d say “good, compelling text content.” What SEO factors should be considered for your site?

The Basics
Search engine optimization is the process of improving the volume and quality of your web site traffic from organic (“free” vs. “pay-per-click”) search engine listings. The days of having your site designed, then having someone stuff the back end code with keywords to have the site zoom up the rankings are over. There are still some important hidden tags that impact search rank. But trickery and “black-hat” SEO tactics may get your site banned from search engines.

Blitz Media Design’s SEO Philosophy
Approach search engine optimization like the stock market. Your goal should be long-term gain, rather than playing a hot tip that may work in the short term, but will hurt you in the future.

Focus on site traffic (the results) rather than whether or not you’re No. 1 – the rank is meaningless if no one searches for your top-rated phrase.

The Key SEO Factors
Search engines want the “best of the best” at the top of their results. Factors that searches use to identify “the best” include:

  • Compelling content. You have seconds to grab a visitor’s interest. Avoid those “welcome to…” headlines and start with what you offer and how it benefits the visitor in a short, effective headline.
  • Sites that have many inbound links from other, relevant sites. They are considered a “vote” for your site. Links from link farms and irrelevant sites are of no help. Reciprocal links are of little benefit, unless the linking site drives significant traffic from their site to yours.
  • Sites that have current content. If your site hasn’t been changed in months or years, its search rank is almost certain to erode.
  • Sites with ample content that follows a theme. A five-page site with only a paragraph or two on each page, no matter how well written, is not likely to rank well. Searches tend to favor larger sites and verbose pages of about 400-600 words per page.
  • Since people are unlikely to read that much text, construct your content so a person scanning the page will see the most important information (think bullets and subtitles). Also, white space can be more effective than graphics.

Note that we didn’t include keywords in the list above. That’s not to suggest they should be ignored.

Use keyword phrases in your headlines, and concentrate on “long-tail” keyword phrases. These are phrases of three or more words that are more specific than a single keyword, and more likely to convert searchers to visitors. For example, if you sell books, you probably have no chance of a Page 1 ranking on Google or Bing for “books” or “book sales.”

But a phrase like “rare books in Cincinnati Ohio” will focus the search results to a point where you have a realistic chance of getting a first page listing.

Is SEO Dead?
No, but it constantly changes. Recent trends include localized search (the results you see on Google from Cleveland are probably quite different than when searching from Chicago), blending of videos and images in the results, social media, personalized search, and constant efforts to eliminate “SEO Trickery” to obtain a high rank.

The best strategy is to focus on niche keyword phrases, concentrate on good content, and pay more attention to site traffic and conversions than rank. No matter how the searches change, good content will always be the most important element.

Written by Craig de Fasselle

April 1st, 2011 at 8:33 am

Posted in SEO Tips

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