In our last article, we discussed the hidden or invisible “on-page” factors that can help or hinder your ability to rank high on the Search Engines. Today we will look at some on-page factors that matter as well. By on page I am talking about the text that people can read on your home page.
From a search engine optimization standpoint, the key factor for any web site is your selection of keywords. These are important in both the visible and hidden portions of the page. They should be in your meta tag title tags, keyword list and description. They must also be on your page.
If the search engines see keywords in the hidden code that aren’t on your page, they will discount them and possibly even penalize your site.
Specifically you want to have your primary keywords appear in the first 50 words of your page text at least once. In the past some internet marketers tried to game the system. They would stuff their keyword on the page over and over to get a high ranking. Such tactics worked for a short while but Google and the other search engines changed their algorithms to punish keyword stuffing. The rule of thumb now is that you want your main keyword to appear between 1-4% of the time. If you have a thousand words on your page that would mean you would use your primary keyword from ten to forty times. For five hundred words of text that would be five to twenty times. This is called keyword density in the trade.
This is usually not a problem for most sites, but it does require keeping in mind which keyword you want your web page to rank for, and them being sure to use it when you are writing your page. When working with a home staging client, I noticed one occasion where they used the term “home stager” repeatedly, while the focus may have been better put on the term “home staging.”
By the way, if you have a top three or four keyword variations that people search for, you may want to have one page of your site optimized for one term, and another for the second, etc.
So, my home stager above might have stressed the term Home Staging on her home page, but talked about House Staging or Home Stagers on another page talking about services provided, or a third page on her certifications, Qualifications etc. This takes a bit more time, but helps raise your sites ability to rise to the top not just on your main keyword but on other keywords as well.
The final topic we will discuss today is total word count. It appears that the magical number of words on a page that the search engines like to see is 425. In my experience most business web sites don’t have that many on their home pages, while most information sites do. The search engine bias is toward sites that provide more information, so it’s not hard to understand that they would tend to reward sites that appear to be “meatier.”
For many of the sites I have reviewed in my WART Analysis program I have had to suggest they add a paragraph or two of text to their front page. And since I am an advocate of using geographical keywords in the meta tags I encourage them to consider adding their geography to their home pages as well.
Many of them have followed this suggestion and added a final paragraph on each of their pages. A butcher for example might include on the bottom of each page a phrase like the following: “South Minneapolis’ premier source of quality meats serving Minneapolis, Richfield and Bloomington as well as the Highland neighborhood and the rest of St Paul.” This adds some words to the page, and also the geographical keywords to complement those in the meta tags.
One final comment on words on the page. Words that are placed on images or graphical elements such as on your header are usually invisible to the search engines and don’t count as keywords on the page, or in the total page or first 50 word counts. If you put your cursor on your header and right click and do not see View Source or View Page source in the box that appears, you are probably on an image that cannot be read. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need to keep it in mind when designing your page so it can compete in the search engines.
That’s it for today. We will continue with on page visible factors in the next article. After that we will explore off page factors.