Live from DMF 2011 | SEO Content Development Practices

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Feb 4, 2011
More Articles by Janet


This afternoon I finally got to meet the lovely Heather Lloyd-Martin, someone I’ve followed forever, present at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Forum on SEO content development.  Heather’s company, SuccessWorks, focuses on SEO copywriting.

Why Is Content Important for SEO?

Heather began with an overview of why content is important for SEO. Why is content important for SEO? She shared a quote from Seth Godin:

“The best SEO is great content.” — Seth Godin

We now know that great content helps people link to you, which helps drive traffic. Top rankings are important, but they mean nothing if you don’t make money. We need to meld top rankings with good content.

What is SEO copywriting?

SEO copywriting involves melding keywords with traditional copywriting/journalism principles. Strong copywriting means higher profits. Heather described this as satisfying two masters — satisfying the engines but balancing that with appropriate messaging.

How keywords appear on your page and in the copy is important. If the words are not on the page, odds of positioning are lessened, and you’ve basically relinquished control of your page rankings (couldn’t agree more, Heather!).

What makes a site number one? We don’t know for sure. But there are three main variables:

  1. Site architecture
  2. Keyphrase-rich content
  3. Internal and external links

Getting Started

Heather described the SEO copywriting “triple-threat”:

  1. Better keyphrase choices
  2. Better title creation
  3. Better sales copy

Heather then pulled up a sample website to give suggestions on how it could be improved from a content perspective. She then gave an example of Wordstream.com for keyword research. She also recommended KeywordDiscovery.com and WordTracker.com as well. Using Wordstream, she demonstrated how you can enter a keyword into a keyword tool and find some potential keywords to get you started. She also showed how you can use Google and Bing to look at items like “related searches” to find other related keywords and terms.

She indicated that it’s important to have your keyphrase in your headlines, subheadlines, throughout the content,  and in the hyperlinks. This prequalifies the page with the engines, telling them the page is about that particular topic.

Heather said that you can typically optimize a page for about 2-3 keywords. She said that every page has a “money” keyphrase. It may be the one that brings the most conversion or most traffic, etc. Make sure that “money” keyphrase is in the headline.

The Title

The title is above your browser window and, paired with strong content, helps your page position well. Clickable, compelling titles tempt prospects to click on your link in the rankings.

Heather then focused on the titles. Don’t forget to put the keywords in the titles! They are incredibly important to the search engines. She demonstrated how the title tag appears in the head area of the html code. The title tag is just another indicator for the engines as to what the page is about. Try to come up with a compelling statement to make your title tag more compelling to click when you’re listed in the search results.

But what about the brand? How can you get your keywords AND your brand name all in the title tag? When you start your title with your brand, consider instead to start it with the keyword phrase, because that’s what the person was looking for. Consider putting the brand at the end of the title tag if at all. If you do have a lot of brand cache, then you may want to put it at the front (example: IBM). She also indicated that you can go beyond the limit of words in the title (about 60 characters), but some words will be cut off. So make sure you put really important words in the first 60 characters. Google sees the text that’s over the limit and values it — it just doesn’t display it in the search results.

Meta Description

Next Heather covered the meta description. It appears in the head tag as well, and you get about 150-160 characters to display in Google and Bing. She encouraged everyone to make sure that every page of the site has both a unique meta description and a unique title tag.

Can I Fix My Existing Pages?

Can you go back and fix your existing content and make a difference for SEO? Heather shared a story about how just changing the title tags alone on one site moved one client to the top ten after the site was reindexed by Google.

What If You Have Very Similar Items Throughout the Site?

Heather addressed a question about how to optimize a site, for instance, that had a different type or color of napkin on each page. She said that she’s seen companies tap into the customers who have used the napkins and have them leave reviews on pages. She also added that testimonials may also help with a keyphrase.

What If You’re a Local-Based Business? Should You Put Your Town Name in the Title?

Short answer: yes. The search engines and users like to see this as a signal to give users results located near them geographically.

What About SiteLinks?

Heather told everyone about how Google, via Google Webmaster Tools, shows the SiteLinks, but you can’t really control them much.

Any Tips for Integrating Copy and Keywords Seamlessly?

Heather said she does not write to a particular keyword density. In the past, for instance, AltaVista required a 5.5% keyword density for a page to show up for that keyword. Things have changed, though. She also emphasized NOT to put a misspelling of a word on the page, even if the misspelling is a heavily searched term.  The first question Heather asks about keywords is: Can I work this into the page headline? Does it work? Remember that you want it to look as seamless as if you were not editing for SEO.

Are You Concerned About a Minimum Amount of Content on the Page?

Heather showed an example of how Brookstone creates content even for ecommerce product pages. This helps buyer decisions as well as SEO. She showed a different example of a company that created lots of great content for SEO, like whitepapers, but they were behind a registration form. Search engines cannot fill out the form. At minimum, she suggested they should have an abstract of the content they are registering for on the page. This will help alleviate the form barrier issue by giving the engines some content to read outside of the form barrier.

How Frequently Should Content In General Be Updated?

Instead of looking at what to do for Google, focus on what is best for your business. Sometimes small changes can make big differences in conversion. See if people are bouncing on certain pages, then tweak the content. See if you can improve them.

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