Last time, I discussed how to prepare a list of relevant keywords and keyword phrases to help increase natural search traffic to a Web site. Today, we’ll look at how to weave these keywords and keyword phrases throughout a Web site. But first, let’s review a site’s architecture.
When building a Web site, one of the first steps is to organize the site’s underlying structure. A Web site must be flexible and organized in a way that makes day-to-day housekeeping and long-term maintenance efficient and manageable.
File That, Please
Most Web sites use a hierarchical directory structure to separate and organize flat HTML files within it. Individual files should have easily identifiable names. Once a file name and its location are established, they shouldn’t be changed.
Some Web sites contain only a few files and require a relatively simple architecture. Others are large and require a more sophisticated structure. Large or small, well-optimized sites adhere to specific naming conventions to ensure all information is readily accessible to search bots and spiders.
The deeper you bury keyword rich content, the less likely search engines will find it. Some search engine spiders won’t go deeper than a certain number of subdirectories. A hierarchical directory with a flat file structure, in which the numbers of slashes in the URL are minimized, will help ensure more pages of your site are indexed. Subdomains within the site can be equally well optimized.
Let’s look at tax-form site, for example. If the company domain name is taxforms.com, then a good way to set up a site architecture is:
Or like this:
A couple things happen when you build a site in such a manner. You get the keywords you want high up in the URL string, and you can leverage optimized anchor text for navigational purposes throughout the site and, of course, in a site map.
Either site architecture works well in all search engines, especially Yahoo and MSN. However, it will still take highly relevant page content to rank well for specific keywords and keyword phrases in the major search engines (along with high-quality links into the site).
Xenu’s Link Sleuth is a very handy tool that can provide you with an overview of your Web site, as well as other helpful details about the overall site structure. Two of the more helpful views include detailed listings of a site’s URLs and page titles.
On the Page
The text within an individual Web page title (generally used in the meta details behind the page as a title tag) is accorded weight by the search engines than nearly any other text on the page.
Keywords at the beginning of the title tag are given the most weight. By leading with keywords carefully chosen for specific Web pages, you can make each site page more relevant for keywords and keyword phrases used in popular Web searches.
There are six heading tags, H1 through H6, in basic HTML coding. The search engines consider H1 tags to be more significant than the rest of the body copy. Text within an H1 tag weighs more than text within a H2 tag, which weighs more than text within a H3 tag, and so on.
Some Web developers believe H1 tags are unsightly on the page — large, bold text that distracts from the overall site design. This needn’t be the case. The H1 tag’s font, size, color, and surrounding white space can all be defined using style sheets to complete the site design.
It’s relatively easy, but time consuming, to marry specific keywords and keyword phrases to different pages throughout your Web site. Remember, you never get more than two indexed listings for any page for a particular topic in the search engines. You must target specific pages for optimization based on your keyword research and site metrics.
Next, you must ensure each optimized page’s body copy is adequately long and keyword rich. If at all possible, incorporate at least 250 to 300 words on each page so the search engines have enough content to determine the page’s theme.
Include relevant keywords, particularly near the top of the page, as search engines weigh these words more heavily. Optimal keyword density is a highly debated topic. Generally speaking, 5 to 8 percent keyword density in body copy is ideal. But be careful not to go overboard, or your copy won’t read well. Body copy must be useful to visitors if it’s to be relevant to search engines.
It’s also important hypertext links pointing to various site pages include your targeted keywords and keyword phrases as assigned to specific Web pages. Most major search engines still weigh link anchor text as highly relevant to the page being linked to. It’s best to keep text links relatively succinct; the longer the link text, the more diluted the theme.
More to Come
A site’s architecture, file structure, and content can be woven together to incorporate keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant and important to your business. Yet we’ve only covered several core SEO (define) fundamentals essential to improving your site’s search referrals and overall Web visibility.
Next, a few more behind-the-page SEO techniques to help further encourage increased search-referred traffic to your site.
Join us for Search Engine Strategies in New York City, February 27-March 2.
Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.