(Note: This podcast was originally published 1n 2006 under another domain name – bastioninternet.com/blog. In 2010, the blog was later migrated to this site. Some links may be outdated or there may be issues with RSS feeds)
In Search Engine Optimization – Part 1, we discuss Content Is King. How important is your content in search engine rankings and how do you adapt your content to get the best results.
Click below for a full transcript of the show.
Here is a summary:
Writing content is one of the most challenging aspects of producing a website. However, it’s extremely important from both a Web visitor perspective and from a search engine optimization perspective.
To effectively produce your content you need to plan, write the overview, focus, and refine.
Plan by architecting your website into logical categories and subcategories. Write in a similar style to that of a newspaper with the most important points first and then breaking down into further and further levels of detail. Focus each page on a central idea and incorporate targeted keywords and phrases.
Make further search engine specific refinements such as accessibility, elimination of pronouns, high use of adjectives, variation of keywords and strong use of relevant headings.
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Read a full transcript here …
Hi and welcome to Drive It – Convert It, for April 14th, 2006. This is episode #3.
Search Engine Optimization – Part 1 – Content is King
Drive It – Convert It is the podcast where Small and Medium Sized businesses learn the marketing strategies and tactics behind Driving More Traffic to your website and Converting that Traffic into qualified and identifiable leads and sales.
Drive It Convert It
I’m John Boulter. I’m the president of Bastion Internet and podcasts and show notes can be found at BastionInternet.com/podcast.
Is content really king. Is it really the key to high search engine rankings. And, if it is, how do we give it royal treatment on our website. That’s exactly what we’re going to look at today.
Welcome back to you returning visitors. If you’re new, welcome aboard.
In prior episodes we set the stage for driving and converting web traffic by
1) establishing solid website objectives and
2) defining exactly who our target market is
Now that we’ve established those, it’s time to drive traffic to our site.
The technique with highest impact for driving traffic to your site is to rank highly in the Search Engines such as Yahoo, Google, MSN and Ask.
Now, ranking highly is based on a whole bunch of factors. We’ll cover most of them in the next weeks and months. Today, we’ll be looking at the value of “content”; the words that make up the content of your site.
I’ve been a part of the web development community for a long time. Probably the toughest thing to do when developing a new or revamped site is to get the content from the client. Now having actually written the content for a number of sites myself – I totally understand why. It’s a tough, tough job.
Just writing any content can be a challenge. Then you have to make sure it’s written in a way that’s going to effectively get your message across to your web audience. Should it educate, inspire, motivate, explain. Should it be simple or comprehensive; eloquent or to the point.
Now here we go throwing a whole new set of criteria at you – write for the search engines, too.
So let’s get into it
I’ll cover this in 3 parts
1st – Should we care
2nd –Getting started – an overview and some guidelines
3rd – Refining: Details and techniques
Should we care:
The general consensus is that your content significantly impacts your Search Engine rankings. Most believe it impacts anywhere from 30 to 50% of your overall ranking. Probably the other major factor in ranking is in-bound linking. Do other sites link to you in a meaningful way. Now linking is something we’ll talk more about in a future episode, however, for now let’s assume it’s important.
So, if you want to attract links, what is most likely to do it – good content (or money – but that’s a different story).
Thus you get a double bonus from good content (or a double whammy, as the case may be for poor content). The content itself is the first bonus – the linking it attracts is the second.
I find the most compelling argument is that well written content will never go out of style. Search engines are continually trying to find ways to deliver more relevant results and drop spammers to the bottom of the pile.
The search engine firms have hired some of the best brains in the world whose job it is to try to find better ways to evaluate content.
Spammers often rely on tricks and volume. If they can trick the engines for awhile and do it on enough different websites, they make money. Anything you can do that can’t be easily reproduced, falls into an area that search engines love and will continue to love.
Currently, the engines are pouring tons of resources into being able to identify good – non-duplicated content. Good, original content takes time and resources to produce. It’s not a volume thing – thus, it’s likely it will stand the test of time for giving you good search rankings.
Finally, if your content is good – you get conversion dividends. Web users are more likely to convert if your content is good. However, there can be a bit of a Catch 22. The best written content from a Search Engine perspective may not be the best from a conversion perspective. However, usually the two are close enough that if you do a quality job with your content from a web visitors perspective, you’ll get results in both areas – Driving Traffic and Converting Traffic.
So yes – we should care.
It benefits Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Advertising, all with higher conversion rates.
2nd – Let’s get started amassing and writing our content – here’s an overview and some guidelines
This breaks down into 3 parts:
1) Planning: This is going to differ if you’re building out your site or doing a major overhaul, versus if you’re going to leave your site largely intact and just adjust the content within it. I’ll talk as if you’re going to be building it out and leave it to you to decide to what level you can adjust your existing site if that’s your situation.
This is pretty logical. List the main sections your site will have. Within those sections, list the main themes you want to address. Within that, list specific ideas.
An example: Let’s say you have a company that manufactures and sells industrial cleaners.
Your main sections might be Company Background, Products and Services, Support Issues and Information, and Examples of Success.
Within each section, say Examples of Success, list the main themes you want to address. For example, Customer Testimonials, Case Studies, Product Applications by Industry.
Now eventually, this will make up your site navigation
Now break it down one into principal ideas. Application by Industry would have degreasers for the refining industry, cleaners and disinfectants for the food industry, and so on. These will ultimately make up your web pages.
The final part of planning will have to do with your keyword phrases. This gets back somewhat to target marketing, too. You need to determine what keyword phrases you are targeting for the search engines to rank you by. For now, you can use your gut (once again, in future episodes we’ll get more into how to nail down keywords and phrases).
That takes care of the first step of the General Guidelines – planning. Now let’s write!
2) Writing: You’ll want to use a style similar style to that of newspapers. The most important stuff comes first and then we start filling in some details. After we fill in a first level of detail, we go on to add a second, even more detailed level.
Web visitors will skim your page. They’ll read a sentence or two at the top, may continue on to a paragraph or two. At that point they’ll either choose to really dive in and pick up some detail, or they’ll leave to another page.
What you don’t want to do is to write a story. Web visitors and Search Engines crawlers are more and more likely to bail out, the further they get.
So – we’ve planned, we’ve got our writing style in place now we need to Focus.
3) Focus: Write your content, sticking to the section, theme, and principal idea of each page. Make sure to include the specific keyword phrases you’re targeting. The more focused the better. To explore ideas outside of that focus – link to those pages on your site that are focused on those other ideas.
That’s all there is to it. Well, almost …
Now onto the details and techniques that make all the difference.
Let’s do a little review: We’ve established that we care about content. We’ve got our main guidelines in place and we know our focus.
We now need a little Search Engine Optimization Refinement
3rd – details and techniques
There are 5 areas of detail and techniques you’ll want to be aware of:
1) Make it accessible
2) Eliminate pronouns
3) Use adjectives
4) Vary your keywords
5) Use headings and highlights
The search engines have to be able to navigate to your pages in order to crawl them. The safest way to do this is to have a simple, text-based, site map. Make sure the site map is linked to from the Home page in a text-based manner. Your site map should list all the pages on your site or at least everything you want the engines to see.
To be accessible, the text needs to me just that – text. Images are not text. Flash is not text. If you have content contained in Flash objects or as part of an image, make sure to repeat it elsewhere if it’s important from a search perspective.
Finally, if you haven’t already heard, frames are bad for search. If your site uses frame technology (where you can scroll through the content while the top, banner area and/or the side areas don’t move), you’ve got some issues beyond the scope of this.
2) Eliminate pronouns
Start going through your content and eliminate “we” “our” “it” as much as possible without making your content sound silly. For example: “We strive to make the highest purity of cleaners. They surpass all standards of purity set with your industry.
Change the “we” to “industrial cleaning products firm”. Change the “They” to “disinfectants” change the “your” to “food services”
So it now reads “As an industrial cleaning products firm, we strive to make the highest purity of cleaners. Our disinfectants surpass all standards of purity set within the food industry”
3) Use adjectives
Further refine that content with
“As a leading industrial products firm, we strive to make the highest purity of industrial cleaners. Our powerful disinfectants surpass all health standards of purity set within the food services industry.”
What we are doing is adding to the “long tail” of search. The more adjectives and nouns, the more likely we are to match up with the term a User types into a search engine.
4) Keyword variation
If your target keyword phrase is “food services disinfectant”, be sure to use some alternate phrasing throughout your content (e.g. disinfecting, disinfected, disinfect).
… our product fully disinfects your equipment
… leaves your food services equipment fully disinfected
… for disinfecting your food services equipment, our products are number 1.
5) Headings and highlights
In the language of the web – HTML – there are ways to identify headings – “H1”, “H2”, “H3”, tags. You can also use Bold fonts, Italics, and so on.
Opinions differ on how impacting these are to search rankings, but most agree that if you write your content with their proper use, you’ll gain some advantage. At a minimum make sure to have relevant H1 headings for the top of your page. I also recommend either an H2 heading for subsections or bolding of the first portion of a paragraph, typically containing the main theme for the paragraph (i.e. your key words).
Writing good, original content is not easy. Especially when you factor in that it should be effective from a human and a search engine perspective. Yet it’s this very difficulty that makes it such a big payoff. The quality sites will do it. The spammers won’t.
So Plan, Write, Focus and Refine.
A final comment: you don’t need to have one person do it all. Often you can get multiple people within your organization to contribute. However, I do recommend that one person does the final draft and incorporates the refinement. It’s best to have a consistent writing style throughout the site.
That wraps up Search Engine Optimization – Part 1 – Content Is King
Next episode we’re going to continue to talk about driving traffic through Search Engine Optimization. It’s going to be a little more technical in that we’ll be discussing on-page coding. If you don’t actually understand the coding and someone else is doing it for you, you’ll easily get the gist of it and you’ll be able to keep your web master on their toes.
Download episode number 4 when it comes out next week. The easiest way is to make sure you’re subscribed to Drive It – Convert It. You can follow the subscription links on our site. Or if you use iTunes, do a search for drive it convert it and pick us up there.
I’m John Boulter, for Bastion Internet’s Drive It – Convert It! Podcast.
Visit us at bastioninternet.com or Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.