“One of the mistakes that new SEO writers make,” says Heather Lloyd-Martin, president and CEO of SuccessWorks, a search-engine marketing firm in Bellingham, WA, “is to think that if putting a keyword in once is great, then 20 times is better.”
This leads to copy that reads as if written by a robot. The idea is for your copy to be the sort of information that would intrigue a customer, not a cyborg. Search-engine algorithms are designed to perform the seemingly impossible task of determining relevant copy without actually “reading” it.
“When I’m teaching people, I tell them I never check keyword density,” explains Lloyd-Martin, sounding almost heretical. “You never want to do anything for the search engine that detracts from the conversion copy.”
In other words, if you’re writing for the search engine, you’re not writing for your customer.
“Copy should flow naturally,” concurs Joe Laratro, chief technology officer for MoreVisibility, a Boca Raton, FL-based search-engine marketing firm. “There are [keyword density] percentages that people throw around—anywhere from 7 to 11 percent—as being reasonable ranges. If you go any higher than that, it’s considered keyword stuffing, and [the copy] doesn’t appear natural.”
Before you start writing your copy, you need to know which words consumers use to find you. This is where keyword analysis comes into play.
“We do very extensive keyword homework for our clients,” says Andrew Wetzler, president, MoreVisibility. “We encourage them to have content on their site based on words people are actually searching for.” Often, what clients think are their keywords “differ from what empirical data suggests,” he offers.
“The best data out there relative to who is searching for what comes from Overture,” explains Wetzler. With Overture’s keyword statistics (available at www.overture.com) “you can put in any search term, and it will tell you how many people searched that term … It’s like having a focus group on call.