The content of a website plays a crucial role in driving search engine rankings.
More importantly it determines the success of the website’s ability to appeal to its readers. Good content speaks directly to the readership and entertains and informs. If a website doesn’t have good copy it will fail to perform with both search engines and visitors. In part 1 of this article we looked at the importance of page headings and compelling content: in this final part we’ll focus on the appearance of the written page and discuss ways of making your copy work better for you and your audience.
Utilising keywords and key phrases.
There can’t be many people out there who haven’t heard of keywords, or who fail to have even a basic understanding of the role they play in writing online copy. They are crucial, end of story. They make what you write relevant and tie the pages of your website to one another: in a way they are a sort of glue that holds the thing together. However, this basic understanding starts to get slightly blurred when we come to the question of how best to utilise keywords. How often should you use them and where is the best place for them to make them as effective as possible?
Using keywords in the correct manner will determine a site’s success. There are ample opportunities to get them in there: every new paragraph cries out for the insertion of the carefully chosen keywords and phrases you’ve researched. Or does it? Writing seo-friendly web content isn’t simply a matter of stuffing in as many keywords as possible. That approach can ruin the message you’re trying to send out, and can ultimately lead to your website being blacklisted by the search engines. If you write for websites using keywords, then less is definitely more. You need to be conservative, and not scatter them about liberally.
Visitors generally come to your website following a recommendation based on a keyword search. Therefore they expect to find content written with that keyword in mind. What they don’t expect to fine is essentially a long list of keywords with very little contextual worth or informative content. Target your keywords to attract the type of reader you want, and then use the words sparingly and effectively: the keyword has done its job by attracting the viewer; your job then is to keep them there.
Using internal hyperlinks.
As I keep re-iterating, good content gives the readers what they want, whether that’s information, products or services. Sometimes though there isn’t the room to give the reader all the information you’d like to share: the pages just aren’t long enough. So what do you do? Do you leave out that last part you thought was essential, or do you try to shoehorn it in, in an abbreviated way that somehow loses both the meaning and context? No, the simple answer is to write another article that deals with that important issue and hyperlink this into the text on the current page. Apart from giving the reader extra information, it also gives them the opportunity to explore the site outside of the regular navigation structure and keeps them on your site for longer.
Can you ever have too many internal hyperlinks? Well, yes you can, but I’d rather err on that side of the equation than have too few. Over-using internal hyperlinks can lead to messy copy, but it’s a question of balance at the end of the day. If the information is too important to omit, then hyperlink: if it makes the page look cluttered, then so be it, you need to get the information out. Links let readers explore your site and open up areas that won’t be immediately obvious. If you use them wisely, they’ll give viewers a new-found confidence in your site and will provide added value. Readers appreciate this.
The things that are nicest to look at are those things that are easiest on the eye. Websites are the same: some are much easier to look at than others. The reason for this is down to the page layout and the way the text is used. When you open a web page to read an article, the first thing you see is the text. If the text is just one relentless paragraph after another, then it doesn’t matter how interesting it might be, readers will be put off. If you’re searching for advances in solar panel heating, you don’t really expect to find an abridged version of an eco-friendly War and Peace staring back at you.
Text is important for content obviously, but the layout of that text is arguably even more important. It’s possible to add images to break up the text, but that’s not really the responsibility of the writer or necessarily within his or her remit. Use differing paragraph lengths: make greater use of headings, sub headings and paragraph and section headings. Try using bullet points or numbering, and certainly use content bolding, italics and capitalisation liberally. The aim is to break up the page so that it doesn’t look boring and uninspiring. It may be that what you’ve written is boring and that the reader will discover that in due course, but there’s no need to flag it up upfront.