By Aaron S. Robertson
Compliments the tutorial, “Basics to Keyword and Search Engine Marketing”
As much as we love browsing videos, photos, PowerPoint slides, and other visually-appealing and engaging content on the Web in the technologically-advanced world we live in, the only way to have that content come up in search engines is to back it with something ancient: the written word. That’s right, just good, old-fashioned writing.
The written word is what drives search and search engine optimization. This tutorial briefly explains how writing can make or break your business presence on the Web. It looks at all aspects of writing for the Web, from the invisible meta and alt tags used by many search engines to catalog their results, to the visible copy that your readers see, and how it all works together.
This tutorial serves as a more in-depth compliment to my “Basics to Keyword and Search Engine Marketing.”
How the written word dominates search ...
Even though you may be looking at photos or watching videos on the Web, writing played a big role in how you found them in the endless sea of content that makes up the Internet.
Take YouTube, for example. When someone uploads a video to YouTube, that person has the ability, through simple cookie-cutter boxes, to enter detailed descriptions, phrases, and tags that help YouTube appropriately catalog that video, not only for its own internal search tool, but for outside search engines, as well.
The same goes for presentations and documents uploaded to sites like Scribd and SlideShare. It goes for photos and images that come up in Google Images, for example. They come up because the person who placed them online to begin with utilized behind-the-scenes descriptions, phrases, and tags to make it all possible.
As we can see, without written words, search engines cannot understand what’s being conveyed in a photo, image, PowerPoint presentation, video, etc., alone.
Take advantage of meta and alt tags throughout your Web site, as well as any such tags on other Web sites you’re publishing content on, if available.
As mentioned in the Overview section of this document, meta and alt tags assist search engines with cataloging your site in their results. They’re invisible to the average reader viewing your Web site, but make no mistake about it – they are there, and they play an important role. More specifically, meta tags help search engines catalog an entire Web page, while alt tags are used to help identify individual images and photos.
Fill these tags in with keywords and phrases that describe your Web pages and images in good detail. Be specific. Don’t use words that are too broad or vague. Make use of geographical and/or other terms that will help search engines narrow down the scope. Separate your keywords and phrases with commas.
As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to use any individual word more than five times throughout a single set of meta or alt tags, even if the word may be used in a slightly different context. Search engines will think you’re spamming, even though that may not be your intent, and they can actually penalize your site in their search listings. Your site can even be banned outright, either temporarily or permanently.
If you employ an easy-to-use template program or content management system for your Web site and manage the site yourself, identifying where to place your meta and alt tags should be easy. You’ll see cookie-cutter boxes that identify themselves as “page properties,” “properties,” “description,” etc. If your site is built all on customized code and managed by a professional Web design firm, your designer will know where those tags go. And if your site is built all on customized code and you manage it yourself, you will know where those tags go.
Make the copy that is visible to your readers tightly-focused and keyword-rich, making use of the same keywords you used in your meta and alt tags.
When crafting articles, sales copy, informational pieces, and other written content that will be read by visitors to your page, it’s important that you incorporate into your copy the keywords and phrases that you used in your meta and alt tags. If the keywords and phrases you used in these tags are not in the copy, search engines will think you’re spamming, which again, can come to have serious consequences.
Visible copy must sound (or should we say, read) in a natural way.
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of having your tags and copy working together in harmony, the next step is to discuss how your copy should read. The answer to this one is quite simple. It must read in a natural way, just like you’re reading a book, a news story, or magazine article.
It may seem like a moot point to even bring this up, but it can actually be somewhat of a tricky juggling act.
We know it’s imperative that the words and phrases utilized in your meta and alt tags are also found throughout your copy. At the same time, however, the keywords and phrases have to be built into the copy naturally. You have to utilize normal sentence structure, and these sentences have to flow in a fashion that makes sense. Search engines are quite smart, and they caught on long ago to the tactic of stuffing copy with keywords and phrases just for the sake of having those terms in the copy, even in places that didn’t make sense. Again, your site faces serious consequences should you engage in this tactic.
Follow these tips for a more effective, rewarding Web presence…