Writing for search engines

I wrote this primer for a client to help them with their copy. Does any one have any comments on it. Things you’d add or disagree with.

Thanks E

Search Engine Optimization Primer

Following a few simple rules can greatly increase you site’s visibility in search engines. Thinking about search engines in the back of your mind as your composing or editing copy effects the language you use.

Keywords are the text users enter when they type into Google or other search engines. Google scans its indexes for the terms and returns the most relevant results.

Selecting keywords
If I wanted to stop smoking, I might type in “learn to stop smoking”, “smoking programs Vermont” or “help quitting smoking”. In contrast, the term ‘smoking cessation’ might be the terminology used on the page. Adjusting the page content accordingly will make the page easier to find.

Generic keywords will have competition from millions of other sites. Words like ‘healthcare’, ‘business’ and ‘diabetes’ would be very difficult to get found for. Detailed competitive analysis can be done to find the best keywords, but a few basic guidelines can go a long way.

• Target short phrase 2-4 words in length
• Pick terms that are focused and describe the message
• Avoid obscure terminology
• Avoid generic terms that are highly competitive


Once you’ve identified keywords that you want to use for the page, they should be used on the pages in places that search engines emphasize.

Search engines place special emphasis on the text used in headings, link text and strong (bold) text.

Page title
The page title appears at the very top of the browser window. It is important for SEO and also is usually used by Google as the listing title.

Description meta tags
Meta tags are information that search engines see that aren’t seen on the web page.
The description meta tag is usually used by Google as the listing description.

Keyword meta tags
In the keyword meta tag, list the keywords for your site.

Lose the last two points. Neither have a bearing on rank.

Also if your client doesn’t have a decent SEO (I asume they do, thats why your writting this) Telling them to focud on short queery strings isnt a great idea. They will find it MUCH easier to compete for the long tail and these terms will (normally) generate them more sales.

Lose the last two points. Neither have a bearing on rank.

Since when is search engine optimization only about rank? The primer says:

Following a few simple rules can greatly increase you site’s visibility in search engines.

The description tag absolutely plays a role in your visibility in search engines. Even if it doesn’t affect rankings directly, after the title it’s the first thing people see on a SERP when they’re deciding what to click on. That can make a big difference to your traffic, so you want to include the keywords here to draw the reader’s eye.

Beyond that, I really don’t see the harm in optimizing description and keyword tags - even if they don’t have a direct effect on rankings (which I don’t necessarily agree with, but whatever), it certainly doesn’t help to make them relevant and keep them in harmony with the rest of the page.

Long tail keyword searches (5 words +) happen automatically if your site is well optimized for those 2-4 word phrases, as suggested in this primer. But the length of the keyword phrases being targeted depends entirely on how competitive the niche is. ‘Internet marketing’ as a niche has a lot more high demand long tail keywords than, say, ‘Jack Russells.’

Anyway, I think it’s a good primer - only other thing I’d mention is keyword density, as people who don’t know about SEO tend to go overboard on that.