One of the questions I hear so often from site owners is, “Will I ever be able to rank my site?” The honest truth is maybe. What your chances? It depends based on these critical factors:
- Industrial-strength Google compliant text
- Two sets of keywords
- Plenty of original content
- Zero spam backlinks
- Original content (text and video)
- An XML sitemap
- New content added to your site 3-5 times a week
- Keyword density between 2.1-2.9%
- One focus keyword per page or post
- An SEO-friendly CMS (think WordPress)
- Video embedded on your site from YouTube
These are the biggies. But you probably have no idea how these items play into your site development. Most people have no clue. Even SEO people gloss over many of these elements for one stupid reason. They’re lazy.
To rank well on the first few pages of Google you’ll need a minimum of 4000 words on your site. Why 4000? It’s the launching point I’ve seen with my clients to begin ranking. After doing this stuff with many clients since 2007, my research proves based on achieving many first page rankings that 4000 words is really where Google begins to consider your site relevant.
What kind of text?
Here’s a story that will outline how important original text is to ranking. A while ago I had a new prospect interested in partnering with me for SEO. They had a huge site specializing in soft retail goods (think high end, expensive apparel). After reviewing their text content, I noticed a trend.
Every shred of their text was duplicate content stolen from manufacturers sites of the brands they sold. Ouch. It’s something many site owners get tricked into doing because they’re franchisees. They figure if they sell a brand, why not simply copy and paste the product descriptions from the manufacturer?
The problem is they get slapped by Google for duplicate content. It’s actually one of the dumbest things you can do. Instead, it’s far smarter to snag all the manufacturer text content and then rewrite. But it doesn’t stop there.
For instance, if you sell Merrill hiking boots, your text content for each product needs to be between 350-500 words all optimized for one target keyword. But how does the keyword play into this deal?
The Straight Dope on Keywords
Keywords are a slippery slope for many people in this business. Many SEO dopes feel it’s groovy to lump all your target keywords in your meta data on your homepage source code. Major mistake.
Google looks at source code as merely an indication of your site’s specialty. What they don’t do is give your site ranking value based on you simply jamming a few dozen keywords into your meta data. Instead, it’s better to start at the end and work backwards. Meaning, think posts and pages. Optimizing one for each target keyword tells a far better story why you’re relevant to the search engines.
So if we go back to our Merrill hiking boots example, I would target keywords in two categories:
- Highly-searched big monsters with search counts between 850-10,000 times per month
- Longtail keys with a few hundred searches per month
Also, your target keys need be exact. Not broad. The old trick is target broad keywords which may or may not have some of your words in the phrase. Here’s the scoop comparing exact keys to broad:
- Merrill hiking boots: 210 exact searches per month on Google
- Merrill hiking boots: 33100 broad searches per month on Google
Hmmm….kind of a big difference huh? The reasons is the broad search may or may not include the word ‘Merrill’ in the query. So you’re better to optimized for the exact phrase keyword ‘Merrill hiking boots’ because it’s highly targeted to your audience.
So What Now?
Write your fingers to the bone. Search engine technology still uses relevant text content as the primary way to evaluate if your site should rank well. This isn’t going to go away any time soon either.
Pick a dozen exact search keywords. Then write 350-1000 words or so of text around each keyword. Make the content interesting, relevant and valuable to your audience. I am astounded at how complex people make this process when actually it’s very easy.
However, writing skills with a focus on SEO need to be structured:
- Make sure your target keyword is in the page or post title
- Include the keyword in the first sentence
- Use H2, H3 tags in your keywords (WordPress devotes titles to H1)
- Bold your keyword in your content once
- Include anchor text of your keyword to another part on your site
Too easy? Yuppers. But the real work is in the delicate balance of keyword density. Start with 2.0%. So you’ll have your target keyword written in your text once per 100 words. Do not go above 2.0% until your new page or post is indexed. Then slowly add more text to increase your density to a maximum of 3.0%. How slow? I recommend a few revisions over one month.
If you can include embedded video in your content you’ll do far better. Google loves video and it’s no surprise since they own YouTube.
There’s a lot of news out there these days about semantic SEO. It’s still in the early stages but basically the thinking suggests you’ll rank better if you use multiple sets of keywords in one piece of content.
Does it work? Nope, not yet. It’s theory at this stage of the game. Stick with one target key per page or post. It’s the best structure to prove to Goole your content is relevant.
Take your time and get good at writing for Google relevancy. It took me years to develop the craft so give yourself at least a year to develop a schedule of adding genuine text content on your site.