Writing Search engine friendly content is not about writing to attract search engines, it’s about writing content to engage your readers. This seems like a simple enough concept but many optimizers tend to forget this. The result is un-readable, SPAMMY sounding content that never really gives the user what they’re looking for. Google and other major search engines are always looking for ways to increase user experience. In this case, it means weeding the top search engine result pages of irrelevant content written to ‘trick’ them into ranking a site.
Over the years, some of these measures to combat this have included the penalization of bolding several different keywords in abundance throughout the page, excessive amounts of in-links to your own site with exact match anchor text, too many on page links, and more. Great text content is about giving the reader the most useful information possible. Forget what you know about search engine optimization. Write first. Optimize later.
Once you have your content written, there are a few things you can do to optimize the page copy without going overboard. It’s important to keep in mind that the copy is just one aspect of your SEO. Aside from the basic h1 tags, bolded phrases, and interlinking, please also consider:
Code to Text Ratio – The amount of coding on your page to the amount of text can be very important to search engines. Not every page must be optimized in this manner, but a website with a small ratio can be indicative of a program, virus, or other questionable web-based enemy of your user. Google likes to see a nice balance of code to copy.
If you’re site is just HTML, you should have no problem with this. If the website is built on a CMS (which can be code heavy), you’re going to want to optimize your code to text ratio. The simplest way to do this is to add more text. If this is not an option, can you ask your website developer to reduce and clean up the coding on your site. YSlow and Google’s own Page Speed Report are generally good first steps in identifying opportunities. A comfortable code to text ratio lies in the pocket between 25-30% for me personally, though 20% for many is considered acceptable.
Check your code to text ratio with this free online tool: http://www.collinsinternet.com/code-to-text-ratio/
Keyword Density – After determining that you have significant copy on the page your next task is to ensure that the words or phrases that you want to compete for are mentioned in the site’s copy. It’s important that the keywords appear naturally in the sentences and that they’re not lumped together. Your target keywords spread throughout the page tastefully in the course of a sentence can drastically improve your site’s search engine performance. Optimal keyword density is between 3% and 7%.
This is a nice tool to help you check keyword density. http://www.webconfs.com/keyword-density-checker.php
The better written, the more a likely a user is to read your content. The ability of a site to have its content read will increase your time on site. It will also allow the reader to scroll further down the page and statistically increases the chances of them both clicking to another page on your site and decreasing bounce rate, and then ultimately converting. These are all positive aspects for your site’s SEO.
Bonus: Sometimes if you’ve been looking at a piece of optimized text for too long, it may make sense to you but may not read well for others. Always have another set of eyes look at the copy when optimizing your site. Have no friends? The Readability Index Calculator is the next best thing. Not fool proof at all, but simply copying and pasting your text in here will both give your readability score and an estimated grade level of your content.