The topic of search-engine optimization (SEO) intimidates many, as if it's a matter for engineering topic. At least I used to think so in my early days of editing Web content. But every person who works on a site — particularly in marketing and content production — needs to understand some basics that can boost visibility and help drive sales.
The basic aim of SEO is to make your site visible in search-engine rankings. And the starting point for good SEO is to have original, valuable content.
Specifically, make sure that the words on your page are relevant to your audience and the subject matter of your site.
On your page, you want to seed your copy with keywords that correspond to subjects and phrases that readers might use in a search engine to find your page. However, cramming your content by repeating keywords won't help you, because the content will become less compelling.
- Focus on 3-5 keywords per page, and remember that the best keywords are actually multi-word phrases.
- Use synonyms, and play with similar phrases or tenses that have the same meaning (e.g. job interview, interviewing, interviewed for jobs). This will also help make your copy read better.
When to work SEO into your writing
According to The Yahoo! Style Guide, the best times to think about SEO when you are writing copy are:
- The beginning stages of planning copy and writing about your topic
- When your draft is 80% complete
Those guidelines can help you stay focused on writing great, relevant content without getting too distracted or overwhelmed by keyword placement.
Here are three key areas for focus, especially in terms of keyword placement:
- Headlines, titles, subtitles. Try to add keywords in these areas, as these areas of the page are scanned by search engines.
- Introduction and conclusion. Readers on the Web scan text rather than read methodically, so place important info in these first and last paragraphs.
- Related links. Search engines like to see links to relevant content, and it's even better when other sites link to your page.
For a more detailed example of how a simple 30-minute SEO exercise increased sales nearly 300%, check out this article from Rob Snell.
You can also find more exercises and guidance in the Yahoo! Style Guide.