Search Engine Optimization Basics Part 5 - Content
by Andy Beal

Over the past few months, search engine optimization (SEO) has 
become more mainstream, with many companies considering this 
form of marketing for the first time. The amount of information 
on the topic of SEO has increased dramatically, with many new 
authors stepping forward to pen guides that explain how to 
optimize a website. Yet even with this increased awareness, I'm 
still amazed by the number of business owners who still believe 
tweaking titles or adding keywords to Meta tags is all that is 
needed to increase search engine visibility.

Optimizing Your Page Content

In previous articles, I have endeavored to provide a beginner's 
guide to making these changes; now it's time to turn our 
attention to perhaps one of the most important aspects of any 
SEO campaign, optimizing your page content.

So, where do we start? What is the most important change a 
Webmaster can make to a page in order to improve search engine 
positioning? To find the answer, we simply go back to the very 
first article in this series, where we discussed effective 
keyword research. When researching your industry, competitors 
and most requested search terms, you identified the keywords 
that are the most regularly used by your target audience. You've 
used them in your title and Meta tags, but their most important 
use is in the actual page content, the text you display on the 
pages you are trying to get positioned.

Include Your Targeted Search Terms

So many times, I have seen web sites that fail to mention any of 
the search terms they are trying to achieve rankings for. They'll 
have lots of graphics and may also have good levels of text on 
the page, yet the company still fails to include the exact phrase 
that is important to them. For example, if you're trying to 
achieve rankings for the term "desktop computer supplies," make 
sure your content has that exact phrase present in it. It is of 
little benefit to say something along the lines of, "The best 
selection of accessories for your home computer" when trying to 
target "desktop computer supplies." While you may pick up points 
for having text that is on the same theme, you won't achieve 
your best search engine rankings unless you include liberal 
occurrences of the exact phrase you are trying to target.

Checking Keyword Density

Your next question is likely to be "How often should I mention 
each search term?" A well-optimized page should include at 
least 250 words of text. Within that text, aim to achieve 
between 5-15% frequency for the term you are trying to target. 
Not sure how to calculate search term frequency? Check out, a great little tool 
that will show you the keyword density of each one, two and 
three word phrases on any page within your web site. Make sure 
that you place your most important search terms in text located 
towards the top of your page and also try not to target more 
than 5 phrases within any block of text (the more phrases you 
try to target, the more text you need to achieve a high 

Also look for opportunities to make links out of search terms 
located within your page text. In the example of "desktop 
computer supplies," consider making one of the occurrences of 
this phrase a hyperlink to the most relevant page within your 
website; it will give you a little push in your ranking efforts.

The Impact Of Keyword Proximity

If you're unable to include the exact phrase within your page 
text, which can often happen when the targeted search term is 
not used in the course of normal syntax, try at least to keep 
the words within close proximity. For example, you could use 
"Discounted supplies for desktop computers." While it is not as 
valuable as including the exact phrase, it at least contains the 
targeted words, albeit in a different order. The search engines, 
while preferring to display pages that match search terms 
exactly, have shown a propensity to display web pages that have 
the targeted words within close proximity.

Search Terms Should Be Pervasive

While paragraphs of text within your web page offer the best 
opportunity to include search terms, make sure you don't miss 
the many other opportunities within your content. For example, 
look at the text contained within the headings of each page and 
make sure they contain the most relevant search term for your 
content. Also, consider the navigation menu that you use and 
look for instances where you can include a relevant search term. 
How about the text you use under each product description? I've 
seen websites where the most dominant two-word phrase on a 
product page was "Sale Price." Ouch!

As you can see, the text you use on each page is vitally 
important when trying to achieve better search engine 
positioning. However, adding keywords to your content is 
not enough to get your web site to the coveted "#1" position. 
There are many other factors that need to be considered, 
including many that don't involve the content on the page, 
but since we are looking at page content, here are a few 
quick tips:

:: Don't bury your keyword-rich content at the bottom of the 
   page. The search engines consider where the text is located 
   on a page when determining your site's relevancy. Google will 
   believe that text pushed to the bottom of your site, in a 
   small font, can't be that relevant to your business.

:: Don't overdo things. While having no search terms in your 
   text is disastrous, having too many could have an equally 
   negative impact. Stick to your 5-15% frequency.

:: Remember the user experience. While your SEO efforts will 
   help improve your search engine rankings, don't sacrifice 
   the usability of your web site. Ensure that it is easy to 
   navigate and that all of your keyword-rich text still makes 
   sense to the average visitor.

:: Add one or two targeted search terms to the ALT tags of any 
   image that links to another page within your website. Search 
   engines have shown they consider ALT tag text when the image 
   contains a link to another page.

:: Don't go overboard with the use of "H1" tags or bolded text. 
   While they can help improve your search engine positioning, 
   less is more.

Walk Before You Run

Hopefully, the above advice will assist you in modifying your 
most important pages to increase search engine visibility. When 
you feel you have made all the basic changes to the text of your 
site, you'll find many articles that discuss fine-tuning your 
page layout and content. Search engine optimization is an 
ongoing process, and you can drive yourself crazy, if you try to 
optimize every single aspect of your web site. Simply remember 
to keep your site relevant and make sure you have covered all 
the basics before advancing to more complex techniques.

Andy Beal is Vice President of Search Marketing for WebSourced, 
Inc and, global leaders in professional search 
engine marketing. Highly respected as a source of search engine 
marketing advice, Andy has had articles published around the 
world and is a repeat speaker at Danny Sullivan's Search Engine 
Strategies conferences. Clients include, Alaska Air, 
Peopleclick, Monica Lewinsky and NBC. You can reach Andy at and view his daily SEO blog at