There is a distinct difference between editing a site for search engines and making edits for visitors. Traditionally in SEO, adding keywords to a web page falls under the category of editing for search engines. But many don't realize that adding keywords to your copy can and should be a function of making the site function better for visitors.
The copy of your website falls very distinctly into the marketing realm of website management. Yes, search engines look at copy too, and adding certain keywords can help you achieve search engine rankings rankings, but each page needs to appeal to your readers first.
Writing from the visitor's perspective
Coming from search engines we have a pretty good idea of what any particular visitor is looking for. We know this because they searched it. This makes it easy to know what keywords should be added to specific pages of our site. But say a visitor lands on your site from an unknown source. How then do you know what that visitor is seeking? Do keywords need to be a concern at all?
Of course they do. An hour performing keyword research will give you a good idea of what kinds of words the typical visitor might associate with the products, services or information that pertain to your site. It doesn't matter if the visitor came through a search engine or another source, they still have certain "keywords" in mind when looking, shopping or web browsing. You need to speak the visitor's language. And that's where optimizing keywords into content works for visitors just as well as search engines.
Turning keywords into good copy
Keyword usage, whether for engines or users can be a tricky thing. If you over-use them then your text is awkward and silly. Under-use them and you may not be providing enough word-cues that any particular visitor needs to remain committed to your content or your site. Regardless, focusing too much on keyword usage is a mistake.
Simply write for your users using the keywords that are important to them. Yes, we've established that those same keywords are important to search engines too, but if you write for the visitor primarily, the search engines will likely get the point too. But as you add keywords to your copy for your visitors you also need to be aware of writing not just to provide the information a visitors wants, but to present it so it speaks to their needs.
Good marketing copy speaks to the visitor's wants, needs and desires. It also compels them to take action. But good copy is not always enough to convert the visitor. We live in a visual medium and while visuals can never really take the place of a spoken word, adding strong visuals into your copy serves to enhance the users experience. Too much text is a turnoff just as not enough text leaves visitors with not enough information. A nice balance must be struck.
It takes more than just good copy
Looking at the big picture, you need to consider usability issues throughout your site. Everything from text to images to buttons and navigation and more can either enhance or detract from the words written which are designed to provide the visitors the information they need to convert.
Of course, none of these will improve your rankings per se, but good usability issues can be factored into search engine algorithms. Getting and keeping more visitors to your site doesn't go unnoticed. Paying attention to all these things can give you an opportunity to compete, at the very least, on a customer engagement level against other sites. And that is what turns an average site into a true search competitor.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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