From the early days of search engine optimization, keywords and content have always been vital to achieving your goals. Starting back in the days when we used to shove every slightly relevant keyword into our Meta tags, it has been obvious that search engines love text. The more advanced the engines have gotten over the years, the more complex and sophisticated many writers have gotten with their search engine copywriting.
Supposed formulas, saturation levels, and other mysterious concoctions have been developed to help us outsmart the engines. However, what we should have been doing all along was writing for the visitor first and the engines second. Why? Because creating a site that's loved by visitors is a prime factor in linking, ranking, and marketing as a whole. As the engines make great strides with more personalized and efficient searches (such as semantic search) natural search engine optimization writing is even more important.
Rather than just indexing the copy on your site, engines are learning to "understand" what a page is about. The ironic thing is, as the search engines get more complex the "formula" for SEO copywriting is actually getting more simple.
In the future, search engines will be looking for Web pages that reflect a natural tone with the copy. Is it obvious that keyphrases are being shoved in wherever possible? Does every headline/sub-head, image tag, and comment tag have a keyphrase included? Does the copy sound fake, unnatural, and stiff? If so, then spiders and bots will recognize it and possibly flag it as something to be wary of.
Take a look at this lovely piece of copy I found while surfing just the other day. (I've replaced the keyphrases used in the original copy with the word "wherever" so as not to embarrass the site owner.)
Wherever Holiday Rentals
Holiday rentals in Wherever for holidays in Wherever
Wherever holiday rentals directly from the owners. Rent a holiday villa in Wherever or perhaps a 2-6 bedroom apartment in Wherever. Wherever vacation rentals for holidays in Wherever are easily located by searching the Wherever Holiday website. Wherever Holiday Rentals offer holiday apartments in Wherever and holiday villas.
Find accommodation in Wherever by clicking on the Wherever map or the active links. You will then see holiday rental apartments, villas and townhouses in stunning Wherever accommodation.
Let's suppose someone walked into your travel agency and asked for help. You would most likely ask what they were looking for. They would reply, "Holiday rentals in Wherever. What can you show me?" Would you honestly take off on the spiel above? Can you see yourself talking to a real client face-to-face and saying, "We offer Wherever holiday rentals in Wherever and can find you many apartments, villas, and houses in Wherever"? I don't think so.
Tips for Writing In Natural Language
1) Vary your keywords/phrases. For example, if a keyphrase you particularly want to target is "14k gold jewelry" consider also using keyphrases like "14k gold watches" or "gold wedding bands" or others along those lines. This will give you a variety of phrases within your copy.
2) Read it out loud. When you read your copy out loud you'll get a better sense of whether it sounds unnatural. If you wouldn't say, "We make 14k gold jewelry and have made 14k gold jewelry for 10 years. If you need 14k gold jewelry just view our catalog" out loud, then don't put it in your copy, either.
3) Break up keyphrases. As searchers get more knowledgeable about finding what they want in the engines, they use longer and longer search queries some of which just don't make any sense. For instance, I recently had to use the phrase "real estate Pittsburg downtown" when writing a page of SEO copy. Since this search string was not easily worked in as that exact phrase, I broke it up. One sentence I used it in said: "When looking for commercial real estate in Pittsburg check the downtown listings first for exceptional locations and prices." The words are still in the same order with minor breaks in between. When you can't use a phrase "as is" this is a very viable alternative.
Keep in mind the direction search engine optimization is taking. The closer you can get to writing in natural language, the better off you'll be. It only makes sense to create a site now that will last through the long haul. Especially when that site will have a better chance of favorably appealing to the engines and your visitors.
by Karon Thackston © 2004