|Creating content around keywords and phrases|
Taking a look at the discussion we held on whether to provide a content forum I was reminded of some of the topics I wanted to see discussed. I see weíve made a good start with some of those and Iím excited about that. One that I would like to dig into is this idea of building the content of the site around keywords and phrases.
I personally do not have the time to be all and do all that it takes to create the perfect site. With that in mind I make it clear to clients that I am not responsible for the actual content of the site. That is not to say that the content isnít crucial to the services I do provide. This leads to my question.
How do you develop your content around specific keywords and phrases? I do provide the client with an outline of keywords and phrases I need to see on the page. I give them a loose example of 250 words repeating the phrase x amount of times. Sometimes I suggest x amount of paragraphs, repeating the phrase x amount of times in x amount of sentences.
What are your experiences, tips and suggestions for working with copywriters, writers submitting articles or clients to develop the appropriate balance using the targeted keywords and phrases?
I hope there is a better solution out there than ours, but here it is.
We give similar guidelines about number of words, mentions of keywords etc and advise the client that we will then 'mess this around' to make it SE ready.
We then give him a final check before publishing. If he thinks we have 'spoiled' the marketing copy, we do a rework.
If we can't find a happy medium, we rely on a statement, such as
|'Ok, you can have what you want, but please put it in writing that you understand the risk of SE performance being poor as a result - our quality control system requires that we ask this' |
Normally works OK, but I am open to better to suggestions.
We usually find that we can make the copy changes we need with those changes being almost invisible - the guy who wrote the copy probably wouldn't spot the changes unless he did a line-by-line comparison.
Problems arise when the client has little or no copy on the page, though.
that's an easy one, paynt;)
suggest to your clients that outsourcing the content writing to someone skilled in both sales/SEO driven copy if they don't have the time or the appropriate knowledge to do it correctly.
I've seen it happen too many times - a client thinks they know what to do (they clearly don't) and usually drag their feet on it anyway, causing a huge delay of the project being completed.
Express to the client that if their attention is needed to run the actual business, they'll be relieved to have someone else doing the work - as long as the client is involved with the review process.
I do some contentcreation with my clients. I normaly advise the client to look at the targetgroup and the keywords to make content (in fact they might be called doorway pages) pages.
I try to create what I call a Trapway site. That's a collection of articles, 1 to 1,5 A4 pages long, interlinkt, each article optimized for one keyword.
Picture yuorself a cloud of content rich articles designed to hit high on the SE's and to trap the user in the site and keep him
My name is Heather, and I'm a long time lurker and first time poster. <g> Nice to "meet" all of you.
<How do you develop your content around specific keywords and phrases? I do provide the client with an outline of keywords and phrases I need to see on the page. I give them a loose example of 250 words repeating the phrase x amount of times. Sometimes I suggest x amount of paragraphs, repeating the phrase x amount of times in x amount of sentences. >
My main gig is SEO copywriting, so I thought I'd provide a few pointers:
1. I try to include 2-3 keyphrases on a page around 3-5 times each. Rather than stuffing them all in the first paragraph, I sprinkle the keyphrases throughout the copy. This way, it's easy to keep a smooth marketing message without the page sounding "bumpy." (After all, there's nothing worse than reading, "Our cashmere sweaters are the best cashmere sweaters for the cashmere sweaters enthusiast." <g>
2. I always include keyphrases in all headlines and subheads. The search engines assume that headlines are more relevant, so it's great for those spiders! Also, breaking up the text with headlines is a great way to increase usability and make the text easier to read.
3. I also include keyphrases in all hyperlinks. Again, the search engines love this technique, and it's usually easy to do!
If it helps, I've written tons of free articles about writing for the search engines and your prospects. [url snipped]
Thanks! I hope this helps!
(edited by: paynt at 12:46 am (gmt) on Oct. 26, 2001)
Hello Heather and welcome.
Nice to know you've been lurking and we're very happy to have you with us, sharing your invaluable information. Please feel free to add the url I snipped to your profile so everyone knows both your professional areas.
I confess to being a fan of both you and Jill. Please continue to join in.
>>>Thanks! I hope this helps!
Welcome and thanks for "unlurking".
I've been a subscriber to your newsletter since I first became an seo "seeker".
You guys (ya'll) have a no nonsense approach to copywriting that I adhere to as well. IMHO the wisest thing to do is target one engine (in my case I target Google) and write the copy optimized for that engine. Then for the rest of the engines (or as I do, target certain engines), cloaking seems to allow me the ability to draw the visitors while at the same time present them something they can read and understand. I have used this with great success and have yet to encounter any problems associated with cloaking pages.
Copy is the A#1 most important part of drawing traffic to a web site.
Wow, post once, hooked forever. This is great! Thanks for the warm welcome, guys!
<IMHO the wisest thing to do is target one engine (in my case I target Google) and write the copy optimized for that engine. Then for the rest of the engines (or as I do, target certain engines), cloaking seems to allow me the ability to draw the visitors while at the same time present them something they can read and understand.>
That's an interesting approach, toolman. I'm curious, though, as to why you use cloaking techniques for other engines?
The reason I'm asking is because I write one keyphrase-rich page for ALL the engines - and the writing still pulls well. I've worked with my seo partner on bunches of sites, and we've never cloaked at all.
Just curious. :)
P.S. The snipped link is now located on my profile page. Thanks, Paynt!
>>>>That's an interesting approach, toolman. I'm curious, though, as to why you use cloaking techniques for other engines?
I don't cloak every site or even every page in a site (although that's a nice trick to have in toolman's toolchest if the need arises).
I see seo as a kind of a puzzle...you have to understand where things fit and why they fit that way. Copy is one of the most obvious pieces and the single most important piece. However, there are certain nuances that can be learned after working pages for certain engines after a little time. By withholding some of these pieces from public view (competitors) you can hold on to that edge for a little longer than if you handed it to them on a silver platter. Granted there's very few secret weapons, but there are some things here and there that can make a big difference in the way you rank. "I'm not going to tell you what they are and I'm certainly not going to write it down for you under "view source". Why? Because I don't have to." :) I can hide that hard earned little snippet and use it to my advantage. See my point of view?
I should state that everything that I cloak is perhaps more relevent (in terms of what the engine thinks is relevent) than what the actual visitors see. I never try to attract traffic from outside the target group. We've all seen this tactic and I deplore people that make terms like "baby car seat" lead to a p0rno site. That's a completely different thing altogether.
I guess another aspect is that if I just wrote copy and stuck it out there....I would get bored (no offense). I like to be able to keep things mysterious and stay ahead of the copycats.
This has actually become stimulating to me because I have several design companies that watch every move I make. If I target a term, they do. If I use PT, they do. They even copy the way I do the metas (it's really a blast to keep them hopping with stupid things) and they outright steal the code to do things like forms. In one case it's a national company with 50 employees or more against little ole me. I have fun by keeping the nuances out of sight and playing the insignificant up as important. And needless to say, I outrank them almost every time. It's friendly competition using tools that I understand how and when to use to my advantage.
Cloaking in the hands of a professional is just a tool. In the hands of the less initiated it can be a menace and a catastrophe.
I'm sure this isn't the spit and polish professional answer you expected but it's what I do all day to keep me busy :).
Thanks for the glimpse into your world, toolman! I hope I'm never head to head with one of your creations -- you sound mighty formidable.
I want to respond to paynt's question: "How do you develop your content around specific keywords and phrases?"
The first thing I do is educate the new client about the importance of keywords. The job begins with nailing down the keywords -- and unless I already know their field, that is a mutual process. They get a white paper from me and a homework assignment to come up with their idea of the keywords for their site's purposes.
Clients who won't play along don't get my services, period. I have no time for people whose existing copy is "untouchable".
After we get a decent list, researched and put into a hierarchy according to what people really do search on, then I mark out the "big ones". These are the kw's that will get their own page titles, or their own directories. These are the ones that get worked into the site's main navigation titles.
Only now do we start to plan site structure, navigation, do mock-ups of the templates etc. And then as they offer content for each page, we work in all the kw's we identified.
I also do re-design. Even then, as much as possible, I still follow this same process. There's nothing worse than needing to retrofit an important kw into a site that was only identified after a huge amount of time, energy and money was already spent.
It's an interesting process. In a couple cases, the kind of questions we ask in pinning down kws have helped the client re-define their entire business model!
Welcome to the board Heather.
hey, psst toolman - is she the good one or the bad one? (I can never keep them straight). We want the bad one don't we? ;)
>Creating content around keywords and phrases
That is such a good strategy. Start with the keyword and build an article up around it. Too bad it never works.
There must be some process to it that I've not mastered yet. The keyword come-hither article, hello rankings style is difficult for me to do. Unless you have it all laid out in your brain, item-by-item before you ever pick up the cursor, you'll never hit the density or the topic mark. Even then, they always seem to end up like you are reading a tech manual.
I prefer to get a topic in mind, and come at the keywords from the back end. Witting lends it self to free flowing ideas. Nothing so esoteric as stream-of-consciousness witting, but just general spark and flow of the article. One topic leading to another topic. Even the well laid out and properly structure essay doesn't seem to play well on the web.
For good keyword and web witting, I take my cue (or is it queue?) from the online news guys. Notice how disjointed and non-flowing their writing is? (they even end sentences with dangling verbs ;) It's not just the style they use. There is a very good set of surveys and experiences behind that "jumpy" and disjointed type of witting.
I think it was Nielsen who said people smell information when they surf. They know the goods they are looking for and how to sniff them out. Your page gets one good sniff and they are gone or stay.
Remember back in high school and you had that one teacher you just didn't care for? You got nervous taking their tests? We all had one. Then someone said the best way to get over it was to picture them in their undies in the front of the class?
(psyche, gee thanks for that visual brett)
Surfers look for information the same way. Picture your pointer as a nose. Now move it around a bit - sniff sniff. That's how people surf when looking for information. They have an mtv attention span and jump from paragraph to paragraph skimming and sniffing.
Writing for that means lots of sentence and paragraph breaks. Many times those breaks are completely unnecessary, but serve to catch the readers eye.
That type of witting lends itself to reverse keyword engineering. Going back and rewriting with keyword phrase and placement in mind.
A typical scenario.
Customer gives a 'brochure' to convert into a web site.
The brochure is professionally done, presents the right message and scans well, but is 'bobbins' for search engine ranking as there are too few mentions of the required key phrases.
First I scan and OCR the text. If there are any changes needed to make the text 'web friendly' I do them next.
Then I check for keyword density, find out how many 'adds' are required and go looking for where they can be slipped in without spoiling the flow, (add headings, replace unrequired synonms etc)
This usually leaves me a few short and with too few near the top of the page.
If this can't be resolved by a last 'scan friendly' tweak, I add a 'layer' to the bottom of the page with a by-line 'Bloggs Limited, keyword-phrase suppliers to the UK'
Might even make this H2 and use CSS to make it smaller.
Then I reposition the 'Layer' to put it at the top of the HTML, just above the normal text, whilst still appearing at the bottom of the visible page.
I suppose I could always use an external CSS to reposition the layer without the Spider spotting it - but so far haven't done.
Its a cheat - but a little one - please forgive me.
Good morning, all!
It is I, the "bad one." (Ok, so Jill won the "bad one" in the Rank Write survey, but OH, the stories Jill could tell about me. You make the call. :D
>Creating content around keywords and phrases
>That is such a good strategy. Start with the keyword and build an article up around it. Too bad it never works.
Oh, my. It "never works?" Brett, that's how I write my seo copy all the time! :) I start with a list of keyphrases, write my copy with those keyphrases in mind, and still keep a shimmering marketing flow. If editing for keyphrases works for you, that's cool. But I don't think that's the only way to do it.
At the Search Engine Strategies conferences, I teach you should *always* write for keyphrases on your home page. Since it's the most important page, (both to the search engines and to your prospects,) it's crucial to do that right. I've seen way to many "edited for keyphrases" home pages that are horrid. The keyphrases stand out like a sore thumb, and the marketing message is lost.
Can you edit your inner pages for keyprhases? Yes. But if it's an important inner page (like a services page,) I would recommend writing around the keyphrases.
BTW - I don't get caught up in keyphrase density. My rule of thumb has always been to include a keyphrase 3-5 times each within the copy - with your most important keyphrase appearing the most times.
>The first thing I do is educate the new client about the importance of keywords. They get a white paper from me and a homework assignment to come up with their idea of the keywords for their site's purposes.
YAY to this! Unless the client is really on the seo ball, you should always doublecheck and research keyphrases choices. Sometimes clients think about their services in a different way their prospects do, and they want a phrase like, "global multilingual communications systems," when what they offer is "free chat." (Yes, this happened to me!)
Hey, and speaking of the Search Engine Strategies conference, the next one is in Dallas. Is anyone here going? If so, I'd love to meet you!
>>Sometimes clients think about their services in a different way their prospects do
I think that could qualify as the understatement of the year!
Welcome Heather. :)