I recently was contacted by a graphics house about some SEO suggestions for their web site. I took a look and found a gorgeous site with lots of great images and graphics, which is to be expected. After all, that’s what they do.
Problem is, there was basically no text. I asked about that and was told “We used ALT attributes on all of the images. Shouldn’t that work?”
I tried to explain that there is only so much that the ALT attribute can do for optimizing a web site. A combination of good ALT descriptions and keyword rich image names might make for good results in Google image search, but probably won’t help as far as general search rankings.
Spiders still need text, so get content! The more relevant text, the happier they will be and the more opportunities a site has to rank for general and longtail searches.
So, in addition to the other obvious basic S E O suggestions (like NOT using the exact same TITLE on every page), I suggested they add some descriptive text and dropped them these content development tips.
1. Fill in the gaps – Look for keywords in tools like Adwords Keyword Tool or the S E O Book Keyword Suggestion Tool for keyphrases and gaps you need to fill. These tools will help you find keywords and phrases relevant to consumer research cycles.
2. Blog about it – Got great images or graphics content to promote? Blog about them. Blogging is a great way to create descriptive text that can help build up rankings for sites that are restricted to a template or, like this example, wants to keep their main site all graphics or Flash. A blog adds great flexibility for adding text and links.
3. Pay for quality – If you are outsourcing your writing, make sure you get good content, not just keyword rich spam. SEO copywriting is for persuasion, not just filling a page with keywords. It’s more than writing, so expect quality to cost some money.
4. Convince the boss – Let’s say your boss just doesn’t understand why content is important. He/she thinks the site is beautiful, so who needs it? Take baby steps. Try tweaking the TITLE on each of the pages to reflect the targeted keywords. Show progress and explain why it worked. Win the war with small battles.
5. Explain – Give a good, clear explanation about what can be done to increase rankings through content development, but don’t lecture. Sure, you might be the resident expert, but NO ONE likes a lecture.
6. Forget magic keyword density – There is no magic keyword density for a page. That’s so 1998! Make your text natural language with your primary keyword phrase included two or three times on a page, ideally above the fold. That’s it.
7. Keep an editorial calendar – As you are creating your content, keep track of what has been done and what is planned. This is a mainstay for print publications and works quite well for bloggers, too.
8. Use keywords – Some folks have dropped the keywords meta tag. Yahoo and MSN still look at that tag, though, so go ahead and use it for best practices. You’ve got to start out with keyword research anyway, so pop them into the keyword meta tag. It’s easy and can’t hurt.
9. Get help – Got writer’s block? Check out SEOCopywriting.com or Robin Nobles’ Idea Motivator for tips, hints and suggestions online.
10. Help the user – Keep in mind that above all, it’s about helping the user to find content. It’s the user, not you or Google, the user!
For related articles, see the entire S E O 101 series.