Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Search Engine Optimization of body text is an important area of SEO. For now, and probably some time to come, websites that contain relevant and key worded text will continue to do better than sites that don't.

Placing text (whether it is in H1 tags or not) at the top of a page is a very useful technique. However, having said that, where exactly is the TOP of the page, in the eyes of a search engine? It isn't always where you would think! CSS, Tables and XHTML definitions can change this, for better or worse. Fortunately, there are few tricks to determining how a search engine "sees" your page. My favorite technique is to use LYNX. LYNX enables you to look at a web page and see it, approximately as a search engine might. You can download a copy of LYNX and use it locally, or you can use this great tool, to view your webpage, as LYNX sees it, right online.

Editors note: Feb 2006
Delorie.com is now asking that you place an empty HTML document in your web servers
root folder called delorie.htm in order for her LYNX tool to validate you as the webmaster

This is a great tool, becuase it shows you what text is prominent. Do your key words come up first, or do your links to subpages precede them? This tool will determine the "layout" as a search engine sees your page.

As a round figure, your web pages should contain between 200-400 words each. Having said that, I have found pages with many more words that are doing well. I don't think there is a magic number, really, because while this is important, it is not nearly as important as other things like the [Title] tag, and links back to your site.

What is important however, is the prominence, weight, and placement of your key words. I like to design pages that have key words prominent, links to sub pages at the very bottom of the site, and about 200-300 words with a key word weight of no more than about 30%. Some designers have had great results with as little as 3-5% and say over 25% will constitute a ban. I do not agree at all, I have sites rating top ten with 30% prominence.

Heres some simple tips and guidelines to follow if you need an outline of how to get started in site opmization, key words, and body text:

  • Use key words at the beginning and end of your documents
  • Use key words right in the anchor text at least once per page
  • Use bolded key words at least once per page
  • Use H1 or H2 somewhere on the page
  • Use a sitemap that is heavier in keywords
  • Mix up the usage of key words, and words that interchange with keywords

It should be said that the usage of wordy pages must be balanced with ad copy technique. There is no point in excessive key word usage if it creates pages that are awkward to read: that will destroy any marketing or educational value of the page! Keep it clean and natural.

Here are some tools to help you find which key words are actually being used to find your service or product online:

Finding Key Word Usage at Overture.com
Finding Key Word Usage at wordtracker.com


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