I’ve written before about the dangers of following simple formulae telling you where to put your keywords. It is more important — and Google’s Matt Cutts confimed this in his broadcast from SMX yesterday — to have good, natural content for your human visitors than to try to game the system with arbitrary guesses about the algorithms.
Still, I always like to put the keywords right up at the beginning, where search engines can catch them quickly before they get a false impression.
Now I have some nice, current data that supports this view. I’m doing a rewrite for a client, a large third-party logistics firm. They have four pages of success stories, a good thing to have. Each story tells how the logistics firm was able to help a particular client company. Each story naturally includes a good proportion of key search terms, such as “third party logistics,” “logistics solutions,” “warehousing logistics,” and so forth.
In looking at their analytics, I was able to see that one of those pages had significant traffic from search, while the rest had none.
All the pages had been created in the same way, with a content management system. All had messy code, some grammatical and spelling errors, and problems with layout. All had interesting points to make (at least if you’re into warehousing and transport logistics).
What was different? Three started off with a paragraph describing the company. The one with the higher level of search traffic started with a statement about the company’s logistics needs. The description came later.
By the time the search engines made it through that paragraph about beauty supplies and shea butter, they had apparently already decided that the page wasn’t really about logistics.
Now, you may be wondering why the pages didn’t come up for other keywords. The answer is that they probably did. Not high on search, probably, because it takes more than keywords to achieve that, but perhaps for a search on the companies being described. However, searchers then probably didn’t choose to click through to a site for a third-party logistics firm — the description made it clear that this wasn’t the place to buy that shea butter preparation.
As I say, I’ve always favored putting keywords high on the page. I’m not trying to fool people when I write a web page; I want everyone, human and robot alike, to know what I’m talking about right away. But in this case, the analytics gives us a good data-driven answer to our question: yes, it does matter where we put our keywords. So let’s get them right in the first sentence, where they’ll do the most good.