Search engine optimization is now a way of life for website developers. The idea is not new, and most people building websites realize that inclusion of keywords on their site will ensure its high ranking in searches. Using keywords in a website is effective, but the misuse of keywords can lead to serious issues with search engines that index your site as they can have your site banned. Observing the following five rules will minimize the risk of getting into difficulties with search engines.
Don’t stuff your web page content with keywords.
It is easy to be over-enthusiastic when writing content for your website. You know you need to include your keywords, so you take every opportunity to include them in your text. But in an attempt to put as many keywords as possible you may end up using oddly constructed sentences and awkward paragraphs. Search engines have been around for a long time, and their algorithms for checking the distribution of words in text are quite sophisticated. Don’t think you can fool them. What a search engine seeks to do is to take the text in a query, and find the most relevant pages matching that text. The page content must read naturally. If you force an unusually high occurrence of your keywords, your misuse will be spotted by search engine software. Include keywords frequently, but naturally.
Don’t use hidden keywords
A technique often considered by the new web developer is to include keywords on a website with their color adjusted to the background color of the page, table, cell or other container. This means they will not be seen by site visitors, but will still be read by the search engine software. Even better, they can be included as H1 or H2 tags, giving them more kudos with search engines. Search engines, however, are well ahead of you on this. They will compare the numeric color values of your text with the numeric values of the background color. If they match, you will be penalized. Even if the colors do not match, but are close, you may find you site face difficulties.
Don’t use too many keywords.
Because keywords are the means by which visitors will find your website using a search engine, there is often a temptation to ‘cover all bases’ and use a large number of keywords. Only three or four keywords should be included on each page. By definition, you cannot optimize a web page for a wide range of words, as you will be faced with the problem of ‘keyword dilution’. The concept of keyword dilution suggests that the more keywords you use, the less important another keyword becomes. This is especially noticeable in the Title, Description and Keyword meta tags.
Don’t rely on common keywords
It is best to avoid direct competition on the most popular keywords. You won’t stand a chance of winning against large, well-established, well-optimized and long established sites if you compete for very popular keywords. For example, if your website sells pet insurance in New York, don’t try to optimize your site for the word ‘insurance’. Use the keywords ‘pet’, ‘insurance’, and ‘New York’. This reduces the number of competing websites, and ensures that people searching for local services will find your site.
Don’t rely on the Keyword meta tag.
Using Keyword meta tag to list keywords is one of the most overhyped and misleading ideas that new website developers will come across. When HTML was first developed in the non-competitive research center in CERN, the inclusion of a Keyword tag was a reasonable method of identifying relevant pages. Once HTML became a public tool used to make money however, the Keyword meta tag was quickly abused in order to maximize the number of visitors to websites. The result is that search engines such as Google pay little attention, if any, to the list of keywords in the Keywords meta tag. They do not believe it gives a good indication of page content and relevance, and rely much more heavily on information about the use of keywords throughout the page.
The overriding message regarding the use of keywords on a webpage is that they have to be used in a natural and sensible manner. Over-use and abuse of keywords will lead to your website being placed further down the search engine rankings, and even being banned. Use them sensibly and sensitively, and your website will be able to compete successfully.
I specialize in Internet Marketing. This includes 10 years of experience in the following areas: search engine optimization, keyword research, link building, competitive analysis, content analysis, competitor research, contributing to blogs, content building, Web 2.0, SEO research, web development, Information Architecture and web usability.