Basic Principles of Content Optimization
Content optimization is perhaps one of the most important factors in achieving high rankings in the major search engines for your website. It is the content of your site that will sell your products and make known to your visitors what services or information your site has to offer. It is the content of your site that the search engines will use to determine where and if to place your site in their index.
There are many elements considered by the search engines in their algorithmic calculations. Unfortunately, the search engines do not give us their exact algorithm formulas; however, they do provide us guidelines of what they are looking for in a site. We also know from experience, shared information from other professionals and industry studies what methods of content optimization are the most effective.
Throughout the year the search engines algorithms shift and change, altering the factors that will provide the best advantage for making a site rank well. These shifts and changes give more importance to some factors, while decreasing the importance of others.
While there are many elements in the algorithmic calculations used by the search engines, there are several fundamentals that consistently maintain a moderate to high priority as determining factors in how a site will be indexed.
Title Tags ~ The First Step to Effective Content Optimization
It is without a doubt worth the effort to create a title tag for each page of your site (that you want indexed). Strategically placing skillfully researched keywords that are specific to each page of the site can dramatically improve your rankings in the search engines.
Think of the title tag as your personal invitation, not only to your audience, but to the search engines as well. The words you use in your title tag will appear as your clickable link on the SERP (search engine results page). Be descriptive and use only keywords that are relevant to the information on that specific page.
Create Descriptive Meta Descriptions Tags
Not all search engines rely on or use the meta description as an indexing factor. However, there are many that do. Search engines use the meta description to verify and authenticate the relevant intentions of web pages.
It is important to create meta description tags that are individual and unique to each page of the site that you want indexed. This description should contain appropriate information describing the contents of the page using well placed keywords that correspond directly to the content of the page.
The meta description is often placed directly under the Title in the SERPs (search engine result pages). Take time and be descriptive, a compelling description can influence users to click on a listing.
Targeting Keywords in the Body of your Site
Targeting keywords in the body of your site can be very significant in how the search engines will rank your site. There is much more to this aspect of content optimization than simply throwing a bunch of keywords on each page and hoping some will stick. Each page should have carefully researched, well thought out and topic specific keywords. Keywords need to do more than catch the eye of the search engines; they must engage your visitor. They must persuade and provoke a response from your audience.
Special Text Used For Content Optimization
Special text is any text used within the site to make it stand out; bold, colored, underlined, highlighted, italic, sizing. Special text is given only a slightly higher importance factor than the regular text on a page.
Carefully read the content on your page, use special text only if it is appropriate for both visitors and search engines. This form of content optimization should be used to draw attention to important information on your site and to ensure that visitors can easily find the information you are offering.
You should never (never, ever) fill a page with special text in order to try to get the attention of the search engines. Bolding or underlining every keyword on your page is not only unappealing to your visitors, it’s just bad marketing.
Keyword Use in Image File Names and Image Alt Tags
Using keywords in you image file names can be beneficial and appears to have influence for image searches. I have found that the best practice would be to use them, and to take care that you use appropriate keywords that best describes the image or what the image is intended to convey to the visitor.
Avoid placing a bunch of keywords in an invisible gif or small pixel graphic, it will not boost your rankings, it will be considered span. However, using keywords in your image file names and alt tags cumulatively with other content optimization techniques can have an overall positive effect in boosting your search engine rankings.
Anchor Text, Another Important Content Optimization "Must Do"
Anchor text is the text that is contained within the link between the < a > and < /a > tags on a web page. Content optimization includes many important factors, and this is one of the “must do’s”. Google and many other search engines place a considerable amount of weight on the anchor text of internal and external links.
Identifying your pages through relevant keyword links, you are revealing to the search engines which keywords the linked pages represent. This can help you more accurately present the relevancy of the web pages within your site to the search engines and will assist in the ranking of the linked keywords. This applies to both external and internal anchor text.
In conclusion, if your site is to keep up with these changes, it is essential that the foundation of your content optimization strategies focus on what will provide the search engines what they want while maintaining the integrity of your site through the content provided.
Content optimization is not about trying to trick or fool the search engines; it is about building better web pages. Focus your attention on maximizing the effectiveness of each page of a site to its fullest.