Web Content: Math or Literature?

Back in the early days of SEO there was a lot of talk about something called “keyword density”: the percentage of the text on your website that was composed of the keywords your customers would use to look for you.

The idea was that if you met the mystical correct percentage — 2%, some said, or 3% or 6% or even 10% — then search engines would serve you up to searchers. If you went under or over, then no dice.

If you had a typical 480 words on your homepage, then, you’d want (depending which figure you believed in) somewhere between nine and 48 repetitions of your keyword. Since you can work with about 10 keywords at once, you could in theory construct your entire 480 words from those keywords, just sort of rotating them randomly.

Thus, the realtor whose site I rewrote recently could have paragraphs with nothing but sentences like “Call for commercial real estate, commercial lots and acreage, income producing property, warehouses, retail and office space, warehouse space, and investment properties,” and that sure makes you want to call, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, sentences like, “Our highly trained and compassionate staff desire nothing more than to assist you in your quest for property-based wealth” reveal nothing to search engine robots, which are pretty smart for robots, but not smart enough to guess what that sort of thing means.

Steve, the realtor in question, was pointing out other sites to me. “They have stories,” he said, and they certainly did. I have nothing against stories, and they can certainly be good for marketing, but they don’t do much for search engines unless they also contain essentil keywords.

What’s more, people aren’t likely to read them as they surf the web. They’re going to spend a few seconds deciding whether or not they want to spend more time at your website. If they decide in your favor, then they’ll stay and perhaps read your story.

But first they have to find you — and the search engines have to find you first, largely based on keyword-rich content, or the humans never will. And then they have to decide, looking at the page of search engine suggestions, to click through to you, largely based on your meta description. And then they have to decide to stay at your page long enough to read your story — a decision based largely on what they grasp in the first few seconds from what they see first on your home page.

The realty sites with stories hadn’t come up when my client searched for his keywords. In one case, the site wouldn’t even show up for the company’s name — my client had to put me on hold while he went and found a business card with the URL on it.

Here’s the solution: have natural yet keyword-rich text on your home page. Do your research so that you know the best keywords to use for your business, and include them as much as you can while still communicating well with your human visitors. Even allow some bulleted lists, if you can bring yourself to. Your human visitors will be glad to be able to scan the list quickly to confirm that you offer what they’re looking for. The search engines will be able to tell what your website is for.

Then put your stories on an inner page, where you have more space and your visitors are already relaxing and spending some time with you. Your blog is a great place for stories.







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