It is obviously not easy to write good, SEO-compliant content for a website and still have a standard of content which will impress your readers, and this often shows in the more amateurish attempts at writing a website. One mistake a lot of people make is in thinking that the more they use a keyword, the better it will be for their website. This often results in the writer frequently using the keyword once every other sentence or a similar density. Their reasoning is understandable. If some SEO is good, then a lot of SEO will surely be excellent?
However, SEO is not just about use of keywords. It is more accurate to say that SEO is about the relevant, appropriate and substantial use of keywords within good content. It is true that Google sets rankings based on keyword density, but the search engines don’t just look for “a lot of keywords”. If they find a suspiciously high keyword volume they are actually likely to downrank you, and if your website is barely readable on account of the excess of keywords then you are unlikely to get the back links that will also be used for higher rankings.
It is this balance that you need to achieve, and it is not a matter of too much or too little SEO. SEO encompasses a number of different elements which should all be present if you want to make the right impact on the search engines – or at least, you should include as many elements as you can without negatively affecting the readability of your website.
It becomes immediately obvious to someone who has a fair understanding of the principles of SEO that the use of it can present a problem. The more you use the right keywords, the likelier it is that Google will pick your site up and give it a good ranking. However, the more you use the right keywords, the less room there is for all the other things you want to say, and the less freedom to say things exactly how you would like to. It is a difficult balance to maintain, then, if you want to be SEO compliant and still write something that will be worth reading.
This is where you have to decide how you are going to maintain that balance. It is certainly not impossible to write well and be SEO compliant, you just need to find where you will place the keywords and make sure that the text around them is appropriately well-written. If you have a target of 500 words and want a keyword density of about 20-25 – an acceptable level and one which will get Google’s attention – then you need to make sure the other 475 are persuasive and coherent.
It also helps if you know how to use the keywords to make their use appear natural. If your keyword phrase for an article is “affordable TV repair”, then a sentence like “Affordable TV repair is not always easy to find” flows much better than if you just try to crowbar it in mid-sentence.
Since the development of Search Engine Optimisation as a concept, there has been a fairly obvious temptation for some people to try to rig the system in their favor by using the principles of SEO in a less-than-honest way. Because the idea of SEO is they keywords create cash, the idea that has occurred to a lot of people can best be summed up in the following sentence: “If they want keyword volume, we’ll give them keyword volume”. This tends to occur in the shape of website text that contains nothing but keywords.
Of course, this means that the website will be scarcely readable, if it is readable at all, but the trick is usually applied by webmasters who don’t really care if you actually read what is on the site. Usually they will use it as a landing page that immediately redirects you to the site they want you to read. It will happen instantly and you will not see the landing page, but it will have done its job. For the reader it may be little more than an inconvenience, but for other people operating in the same niche, it is cheating.
The main reason that tricks like this are a bad idea has only a small amount to do with the fact that it is cheating. In actual fact, it is incredibly limited as an SEO tool because Google and other search engines check for such tricks and will relegate any such site in their rankings – so not only is it dishonest, it is also ineffective, which is what will really stick in the craw of the people doing it.
Reduced down to its simplest form, a sitemap is just a list of URLs. For something so completely basic, it’s incredible to believe how very important sitemaps can be when it comes to successful SEO.
To add pages to search engine results, engines send out what is known as a ‘bot’ or a ‘spider’. This non-human bot will search the internet for pages, and whatever it finds will eventually be indexed (that is, included in a search engine results page). Yet there are literally millions of websites on the internet, and sometimes waiting for a search engine bot to crawl your page and index it – well, it can literally take weeks.
This is where the sitemap comes in. The sitemap is a “heads up”, basically calling the search engine’s attention to your website.
When your website is complete, you will need to build your sitemap (or ideally, build it as you go along). This can be done using a simple Notepad .txt file, with a list of URLs of each page of your site, written on a separate line and then uploaded to your server. Alternatively, if you are using WordPress self-hosted, you can install a plugin called “XML Google Sitemaps” – which automatically generates and updates your sitemap as you go along.
The plugin will generate a URL (usually www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml), or alternatively with the .txt file, upload it and obtain the URL yourself. You should then take the URL of your sitemap, and submit it to all of the major search engines, using a tool such as Google Webmaster Tools. When submitted, the engine will know to send a bot to crawl the pages you’ve submitted – and will usually do so in a matter of days. Sitemaps really can make indexing that easy, and are therefore an absolute must.