With all the shuffling that’s been seen in the search engine world within the last year, the issue of obvious optimizing has become a hot button. The current line of thinking is that most engines (especially Google) are on the lookout for sites that purposely make an effort to optimize their pages in order to get high rankings. While this theory has not been proven, I agree that obvious optimization is not a good thing. Not exclusively because of what Google might think, but because of what your site visitors might think.
When a Web site is created with the intent of having it ranked highly, one thing often happens. The focus gets placed solely on the optimization and is taken almost completely away from the visitor. This leaves your site in a dangerous state of unbalance. Let’s take a look at some examples.
New Orleans Web Design
Our New Orleans Web design firm offers a high level of creativity to businesses located in the general area. Our New Orleans Web design styles are never made from templates. Each New Orleans Web design is a custom creation just for your site.
I can’t count how many times I’ve visited Web design sites that were targeting local audiences and found copy similar to this example. Forget for a moment that this copy is completely “me, us, we, our” centered, and let me ask you a question.
If someone asked you what your company did would you say, “Web design” or “New Orleans Web design”? Yes, I know the keyphrase is “New Orleans Web design,” but using that phrase interchangeably with “Web design” shatters the flow of natural language. Breaking up that phrase will help you retain your appeal to the engines and your site visitors. It will also keep you from appearing to be over optimized.
You’ll also want to vary your terms to avoid absolutely bombarding the reader (and the engines) with the same keyphrases. That *may* mean the need for longer copy *if* your target audience is one that would respond well to longer copy.
Try this instead:
Progressive, creative, upbeat. Those are phrases that best describe many online businesses based in New Orleans. Web design for your organization should match your style. Never created from templates, the site designs you’ll receive will be truly reflective of your corporate personality. Because we work exclusively with companies located in or near New Orleans, Web designs retain that Big Easy feel.
See the difference? By breaking the phrase up, you work with the flow of natural language instead of against it. To your site visitors and the engines, it appears the phrase is just part of a written conversation instead of something that has been purposely (and carelessly) tossed in for the sole benefit of higher rankings.
So, is the flow of your current copy destroyed by keywords? Are you scaring off both the engines and your visitors? One quick check can help you decide. Read your copy out loud. (Or better yet, have someone else read your copy out loud.) Does it sound odd? Does reading it feel forced or stiff? Would the sentences you’ve written in your copy seem out of place in the course of a verbal conversation with someone? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you might better take a closer look at your Web page.
Karon Thackston © 2004, All Rights Reserved