Effective Writing and Keywords

Sunday September 13, 2009,

7 min Read

Many websites will skip this important step when creating a site using SEO. They often forget that the content of the site matters just as much as keyword usage or

linking. Today’s search engine spiders take language and writing into account. Search engines have begun to examine whole language rather than just words and will measure a site’s use of sentences and various sentence structures. Using good writing and using that writing effectively has become more important than ever. 

Natural Language

One important element of effective SEO writing is using natural language and speech patterns to convey information. Since merely listing keywords on a page no longer makes that page “relevant” in the eyes of most search engines, SEO strives for a way to naturally and effectively use these words in context. Search engine algorithms are suspected of scanning and measuring the amount of natural language within a website. Some claim that Google is now taking counts of the number of the various parts of speech within a website—for example nouns, verbs, pronouns, and adjectives—and using those numbers as part of page rank. What’s important is that the speech within a website be mostly natural, written text rather than just singular words or phrases.

Keywords should be used in a natural context. For example, if the keyword is “birds,” then this keyword, along with related keywords, should be used in natural speech. The word “bird” should also be used in titles and headings. Natural speech is not only helpful to users, search engines look for this in order to rank a page. Keywords will be discussed at greater length in the next section.

Simply listing keywords in an unnatural way, usually used a technique to artificially inflate a page’s ranking, will get a lower rating or a ban from search engines. Simply listing words related to the keyword—for example, listing bird related words, or simply listing keywords not even related to birds—isn’t using natural language. A sentence such as, “There are many breeds of song birds in North America,” on the other hand, seamlessly implements the keyword into natural language.

Why is natural language important? As previously discussed, the amount of natural language on a page is, based on the opinions of SEO experts, being measured by search engine algorithms as part of page rank. Why do the search engines bother measuring natural language in the first place? In the early days of search engine technology, before the complicated algorithms of today, all a website would have to do to gain high page rank for a certain keyword is just use that phrase over and over, without any real, usable content. Today users know that websites like that can’t be trusted for the quality of their content, so search engines try to weed out these results, rank them poorly, or remove them from rankings altogether. 

Using Keywords: Effective Writing

One of the most basic but difficult writing tasks is writing with keywords in mind. The writer will be using these keywords over and over again, so his or her first task becomes to pick the keywords. There are several criteria which websites can use to pick keywords.

  • First, what is the general subject of the site? What words best describe what the site is trying to accomplish? Make a list of all possible keywords, and don’t limit the list based on how specific or broad the potential keywords are. Words like “car” are just as valid as more specific terms like “sedan,” “Toyota,” or “Toyota Camry.” Since websites can fit multiple keywords onto a site, they should find the ones that best describe their site and their site’s contents.
  • Next, research the keywords online to find out what the competition is. Type all possible keywords into several different search engines. Start with the big ones, like Google, Yahoo!, and Windows Live, and Ask. Find the competition and see what they have to offer.
  • Now identify how the new site is going to do things better. Are there more specific keywords that other sites don’t have? Is there a niche market that isn’t yet being catered to? Since competition is a large part of increasing page rank, a lot of research into other sites is generally required.
  • If paid advertising of any kind is going to be utilized, even more research into the keywords is necessary. Because keyword choice can affect the cost of advertising, sites must choose wisely. Rather than limiting keyword options to only popular or “hot” keywords, sites should research an array of keywords to find which ones draw the most customers.

The keywords a site eventually chooses will become the concentration of the page. After all, a site needs to have a rich concentration of these words in its contents, while keeping the text natural enough so that no search engine would misinterpret the page as spam.

Keyword Density

Keyword density is a number that search engine spiders notice when indexing a page, and an easily changed element of a page that can affect SEO and page rankings. Keyword density is the number of keywords within a page compared with all the words. So, for example, if a site had a 200 word article on a page, and the article contained 10 keywords, the density would be about 5%.

There is some disagreement about exactly how dense keywords should be, but the general consensus is that a density somewhere between 3 and 6% is preferred. These keywords should be written in natural speech and sprinkled throughout the text, rather than sitting in a list or in a bullet point. Using these keywords throughout the text will ensure that the entire text is taken as relevant to the keyword. Basically, the text should be human as well as search engine friendly.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are the words and phrases that describe a page. Keywords are also the words that search engine users to find the pages they want. Search engines, in essence, retrieve information related to the user’s keyword based on the keywords in web pages. If a user types the words “digital camera” into a search engine, he or she will get a long list of websites that contain the keywords “digital camera” somewhere in their pages.

Search engines rank pages based on how much they relate to keywords. There are millions of sites online that use the keywords “digital camera,” but some are more related to those words than others. One site may be devoted to digital photography with reviews and information about digital cameras and how to use them. Another site may mention digital cameras briefly, but the site itself concentrates on travel. When a user types a keyword or words into a search engine, he or she has a certain expectation. They want a site about digital cameras specifically, not travel pages that mention digital cameras. If the user had wanted travel, they would have typed “travel” into the search engine. If that user wanted to know information about how digital cameras relate to travel, they could have typed “digital camera travel” into a search engine.

This is the essence of keywords. They are a way to boil down the topics of a website into single words and phrases. Search engine users will then type the topics for which they want to know more information into search engines, and then the search engine will match this information with websites that have already been indexed by the search engine. The job of search engines then becomes to match the user’s keywords with a website’s keywords. Since the search engine keeps a large database of information about various sites online and the keywords used on these sites, they can match this information together relatively quickly with the aid of their algorithms.

Keywords are dependent almost entirely on the text within a website. Imagine that someone created a very basic website with a page title, pictures, and information about digital cameras. When a search engine spider went through that page, the program would see many uses of the word “digital camera” on that site, obviously making that phrase a keyword for that website. The spider will also get other keywords from that website, too, based on the text of that site. Spiders will take a count of the words and phrases on a website and, after disregarding common words and articles like “a,” “and,” and “the,” will use the most common words and phrases to determine keyword, which might include “tripod,” “megapixel,” or “lens,” as well.

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