In a recent MoreVisibility YouTube Video, I discussed the elements of a page’s content that play the biggest roles in SEO. For today’s blog post, I’ll be digging a little deeper into that topic and expanding on my answer to a very common question that we receive from clients: “What is more important, Keyword Density or Keyword Placement?”
To say that “keyword placement” is more important than “keyword density” is more of a relative than an absolute statement. However, I believe it is much easier to “streamline” your SEO process by ensuring that the chosen primary keyphrase for a page is utilized in all of the key areas of the meta data AND in the content and anchor text for a page.
Keyword placement is essential when writing the content for a page because the search engines will assign a great deal more weight to a keyphrase because of where it’s placed. For instance, of the Titles, Descriptions and Keywords meta tags, the Title tag is given the most weight by Google. Anything placed in the title tag (preferably at the beginning) tells Google that this page’s primary focus is this word and they will typically serve that page in search results for that term.
The Descriptions meta data is the “ad copy” for the page and can be very effective in attracting people to click on the link to get to your page. The more compelling these 155 or so words are, the better the click-thru Rate. The general consensus is that the words contained in the Descriptions meta tag are not used as a factor in ranking by Google; I myself believe this to be naÃ¯ve; until Google officially says that, treat any words contained in descriptions as a ranking factor and they should contain the primary keyphrase for the page.
The keywords meta data is ignored now, but may be used in the future by Bing, Yahoo and Google, so it’s probably worth at least including the primary keyphrase for the page in that tag.
Anchor text is the word(s) that you click on to open the hyperlink. Anchor text is weighted (ranked) highly in search engine algorithms, because the linked text is usually relevant to the landing page. This is why it is essential to always use the appropriate anchor text within any links leading to other pages on your site. For instance, if you are referencing an interior page in a blog post, include the keyword elements you are targeting for the destination page in the clickable links leading to that page. In this blog post, if I wanted to reference another blog post I wrote, I would link to it like so: Why you are Shooting Yourself in the Foot by not Employing H1 Tags for SEO.
Lastly, there is of course the actual plain, text content on the page itself. In terms of keyword density, try to aim for around 2-4%, but do not sacrifice the narrative quality for the sake of SEO. Put simply, if a block of text looks “spammy” and confusingly written to the user, it will look that way to the search engines as well.
When I speak with clients about keyword research and content optimization, they often ask me what tools I use to gather the data or make recommendations. Here I will give you a little insight to some of the tools I use regularly.
One of the best places to start with keyword research is Google. Google offers a suite of free tools that you can use to insights about the keywords you are researching. One that can be used by aspiring SEO’s and paid campaign managers alike is the keyword tool. This tool will give you some approximate statistics and other recommendations for your keywords. You can get additional data about your keywords with Google Insights and Google Trends.
Another component of page optimization is keyword density. We recommend that your pages each consist of at least 200 words of text and have approximately a 4% keyword density. To check what keyword has the highest keyword density, you can use the MoreVisibility keyword density checker. If you need to check the density of copy you are writing for new or revised pages, you can use the live keyword analysis tool. It allows you to copy content and past it into the provided fields to get the statistics.
Another set of tools I use to checks PageRank, backlinks and cache date. These items are good to monitor so you can see how the search engines are viewing your site. Downloading the Google Toolbar is what you need if you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer as your browser. If you use Google Chrome, I have found that the Chrome SEO Extension works pretty well.
While there are many other tools out there, some paid and some free, the few that are mentioned above will give you a good start to researching and analyzing your SEO efforts.
Lately, we’ve been noticing something a little different in Google’s search results with some search queries resulting in more descriptive information in the result. The search result shown here illustrates this:
The normal size for a snippet description in Google’s search results has always been about 160 characters but recently, we have observed description snippets with as many as 317 characters. This kind of result was reported in Italian search results last November and also on Webmaster World, some users reported being offered optional “long” descriptions in results. However, we are seeing these results lately with no special preference settings.
We can only speculate on what is triggering the longer descriptions. We have noted that the longer the search query is, the longer the snippet. So, a search for a three-word search query leads to shorter descriptions like this one:
Two or three word queries result in normal short snippet sizes:
These results are not just local. They were reported here in Florida and a colleague up in Minnesota tells me he’s seeing them there too.
We have noticed that, as reported in the TechCrunch article mentioned earlier, the extra descriptive text is pulled from the page even if the page contains more text in the description tag so we see no reason to change existing Best Practices for description tag length.
Is this just something new that Google is testing or is this a real change in the way that Google displays search results? We’ll just have to wait and see.