Writing search engine friendly content helps your potential customers find you through a search engine. Most search engines use software “spiders” to comb the Web for the most relevant sites, and one way they determine a site’s value is by its written content. The spiders are searching the content for keywords or the words that people type in to the search engines that relate to a particular topic. The good news is that spiders, like your site visitors, are attracted to short, easy-to-understand text that is relevant to what you are selling. By organizing the relevant information about your site — the page titles, descriptions, etc. — you’ll make it easier for search engines to find and rank you appropriately.
Web Page Titles Your site’s title, which appears at the top of the browser window, is the first piece of text users — and spiders — will read. Search engines use title tags to get information about your site and help determine rank in search results pages. Your home page title should be short and include your business name and its function, if it’s not clear from the name alone. For example, if you sell watches, the title of your home page could be “Smith’s Online Watch Store.” Giving each page a unique, descriptive title will help searchers find what they are looking for. For example, if you sell shoes and your web site has a page that lists only basketball shoes, a good title for that page might be “Basketball Shoes for All Sizes.” That particular page, instead of your home page, would also be listed on the results page, so users can go directly there from their search.
Meta Tags Your site’s meta tags are similar to the title tags, but are not displayed at the top of a browser’s window. These tags explain the web page’s content and store keywords for search engines, which helps in the ranking process. Also, the text in the meta tags will be used as the descriptor on a search engine’s results page, just below the link to your site. For example, if the title of your site is “Smith’s Online Watch Store,” your meta tags could read, “Buy casual, dress, and athletic watches.”
This would appear on the search engine’s results pages as:
Smith’s Online Watch Store Buy casual, dress, and athletic watches. www.smithswatches.com
Meta tags don’t impact the display of your site to visitors, but because search engines do use them to create the descriptive text that accompanies search results, they need to be as clear as the rest of your site’s content. When writing meta tags, you should:
- Use your keywords in the description , but keep them limited so you do not appear to be spamming the search engine.
- Limit the description to 250 words in length.
- Write for people, not spiders. The best sites are the ones that provide the highest quality user experience.
Home Page The copy on your home page is your first opportunity to attract spiders and sell to customers. You should write content that supports the keywords and phrases that initially led customers to your site and use your keywords at least three or four times. Some search engines pick up text from the top of your home page to create a description of your site instead of using your meta tags, so make sure to include catchy phrases and keywords that will appear on the top portion of the screen. This also is important for users who visit your site — they shouldn’t have to scroll down to find the most relevant content.
Category and Subcategory Pages These pages allow you to organize your products or services in a logical way, help users locate exactly what they are looking for, and bring customers directly from a search engine to the product they want to buy. Headers, products, and special offers placed at the top of the page will increase visibility with both spiders and shoppers. For example, on your sneakers page, a “Free Shipping on Sneakers” ad near the top of the page will help entice customers, but it will also make it easier for spiders to find your keywords because they won’t have to scan as much content. Keep in mind that spiders can’t read content embedded in graphics or flash so be sure to use plain HTML text when placing the copy on the page.
The Benefit of Writing Search Friendly Content Your ultimate goal is, of course, to communicate with and sell to your customers. Writing search engine-optimized content helps achieve that goal by making it easier for search engines and customers to find you. Sprinkling your keywords throughout both your site’s text and meta tags is one way to get noticed by search engines. And it helps potential customers find exactly what they’re looking for.