Archive for October, 2007

Keep Your Site SEO-Friendly without Over-Optimizing

October 3rd, 2007 by Sarah Bates

When it comes to search engine optimization, many people can be overzealous in their attempts to improve a Web page’s ranking. Whether or not the over-optimization is an intentional effort of someone trying to take advantage of the search engines or just the efforts of someone still learning about SEO, it still typically results in the page being penalized. Keep the following tips in mind when making your page SEO friendly, and you’ll be able to build a strong ranking without having to worry about penalization.

1) Avoid stuffing the title with keywords.

Titles are still one of the most important aspects in a page’s search engine ranking, and including important keywords here is necessary. However, cramming as many keywords as possible into the title is not the best route to go when it comes to SEO. Search engines keep an eye out for over-optimization in the title, so it’s best to let it serve its purpose without going overboard. When writing the title tag, incorporate your main keyword at least one time but never more than two. Keeping it simple still effectively tells search engines what your page is about without getting your page marked as spam.

2) Use descriptions to pull visitors into your site.

While many people see descriptions as another area to include keywords, they really don’t play a role in improving a page’s ranking. However, since descriptions (along with title tags) are often the only details displayed to visitors on search engine results pages, they are meant to give Internet users a brief overview of a Web page and to create interest in that page. If the description is only used for keyword inclusion, it’s probably not going to read well for users. While it never hurts to lightly incorporate keywords in this section, keep the focus on making it reader-friendly. The goal is to get people to read the description then click on your page’s link. If the description fails to draw people to the page, it’s not doing its job.

3) Put keywords in your headers when it makes sense.

Headers are a good place to incorporate keywords, but improper use of keywords in headers often raises a red flag to search engines, warning them of possible over-optimization. When writing your headers, include keywords that accurately describe your page, but avoid using the same keywords that are in the title and description. If the keywords don’t fit into your title naturally, don’t include them. While keywords help improve site’s ranking, it’s not necessary to put them in the header if everything else is well optimized, and in fact, can hurt your website since search engines look at over-use of keywords as unnatural. If you include keywords in your header, make sure to surround them with other words, as well.

4) Distribute keywords evenly throughout your content.

When writing content, don’t focus on putting your main keywords in just the first few paragraphs. Search engines give more weight to keywords found in that section, but they’re also more sensitive to keywords there and can penalize you for over-use. In your page’s code, the first couple of paragraphs follow the title and descriptions. Having the same keywords repeatedly appear close together can trigger the search engine into questioning your page’s quality. Incorporate keywords into the content, but give them even distribution throughout the text. Search engines are sensitive to paragraphs stuffed with keywords, so too many in your first few paragraphs could actually be detrimental to your site rather than beneficial. You should never sacrifice the natural flow of sentence just to put in more keywords. Keep your content natural and use it to help visitors understand the purpose of your site, product, etc.

Whenever you’re working to increase a page’s ranking, keep in mind that the end result should still be directed towards enhancing the user’s experience. Gearing your website towards the user while keeping search engines in mind is always the best approach to take. Search engines want to give high rankings to websites that are focused on providing a positive user experience rather than un-ethically influencing search engine rankings, so avoiding over-optimization works our better in the long run.