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Step 4 - Page Optimization


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In recent years the search engine optimizers have started to use the buzzword "SEO copywriting" to describe the process of incorporating keywords into web page elements in order to attain higher search engine ranking. This has resulted in a cult like mysticism about what search engine copywriting really is.

It's true, writing for the engines is a little bit different from writing for a human reader without any consideration for keywords or the search engines, but there are no hard rules carved in stones. Earlier we have talked about keyword grouping and keyword mapping to pages. When you are writing your web pages keep a strong mental note etched in your mind about the "keyword focus" of the page and how the main keywords tie into the content you are writing. It's easy to go off track and start focusing on keyword repetition alone, but you are only going to hurt your conversion rate and turn away your website visitors with a web copy that "smells" too artificial and repetitive. Write your web copy with emotion and enthusiasm. It's guaranteed to grab your visitors attention, and we all know the first 5 seconds are crucial to engage your visitors attention.

How to please your visitors and the search engines with your web copy?

Writing optimized web content for the search engines is relatively easy providing you already know a fair bit about the subject matter at hand. At the very beginning of this lesson we would like to list a few golden rules.

  • Writing for the search engines doesn't mean you have to change your writing style substantially by forcing keyword repetitions and forgetting about the fact a human reader came to your website looking for information about your products and services.  Don't turn them away with web copy that appears unnatural and spammy.

  • Readability and persuasive content comes before any keyword count or keyword density scores. If you web copy reads like a machine wrote it, it will make no difference even if the number of unique visitors to your site doubled or tripled.

  • Emphasize benefits instead of features. Tell your website visitors how your solution will be a god send to their problems detailing the specific benefits your products or services offer.

  • Write in blocks of 10-12 sentences with H1-H3 heading tags separating main logical sections. This will make your visitors attention more focused and guaranteed to increase the length of time each visitor spends on your site.

  • Strike a conversational tone but refrain from slang words or jargon like verbiage. . You are writing foremost for your human visitors and not the search engine crawlers.

  • Write at a level an 8th grader could easily read and understand. There are a number of readability scoring systems for you to test your writing style with. The most known are the Flesch/FleschKincaid readability test to find out how complex your web pages are to read. We suggest you test your web pages readability scores at Readability.info by uploading your Microsoft Word document or putting your web pages online.

  • Read expert articles and tips about copywriting for the web. You can never learn enough about writing content for the web. Beside the obvious tips we can give you to spell check and proof read your page before putting them online, there are a number of experts who share their writing secrets for free with anyone interested. One of our favorite sites to get invaluable copywriting advice is Copyblogger.com

The best written web pages are those that satisfy the website visitors need for clearly written, informative and persuasive content. At the same you must achieve a level of keyword saturation by using lexically related phrases often enough to let the search engines know what your content is about. This is why proper keyword optimization and the art of writing persuasive content are critically important for all pages of your website.

Repeating keywords too many times or using them unnaturally will make your web pages unreadable and will ultimately turn your website visitors away. This type of aggressive optimization may even have a negative affect on your search engine ranking due to an over-optimization penalty given to web pages suspected of keyword spamming. On the other hand, if you don't use the keywords often enough your web pages will lack a keyword focus and the search engines may assign a lower "on-page" ranking score to your web pages.

What is the secret of writing winning content for the engines and your site visitors?

Consider the chart below illustrating three different website's keyword density scores. Which one do you think would be ranked higher based on "on-page" ranking factors alone? The answer is not as simple as you may think. A page with the lowest keyword density could still outrank the other two pages if the page Title tag and other HTML elements are better optimized. This ultimately proves you can't rely on keyword repetition alone to beat your competitors' pages on the search engines.

The optimum keyword density range varies by search engines, but as a guide aim for a 3%-10% range in the body text as illustrated by the green highlighted area.

Since each search engines use a different "on-page" ranking score it is hard to tell which website would rank higher based on keyword repetition alone. Although there are some common factors to consider, optimizing web pages naturally increases the number of times a keyword is repeated on a web page. Measuring how often a keyword is repeated is known as keyword count sometimes referred to as keyword occurrence. Closely tied to the keyword count is the keyword density, which is a ratio between the total number of indexable words versus the number of times the keywords are repeated on a web page.

For example, one keyword found in a 10 word HTML section is equal to (1/10) *100 = 10% however, if the same keyword appeared once in a 15 word HTML section, its density would be calculated as (1/15) *100 = 6.6%. As you can see, the higher number of words found on the page, the lower our keyword density will be due to the diluting effects of the other text surrounding our keywords.

What is the ideal keyword density?

Here is the short answer, there is no such thing. The optimum density varies greatly from engine to engine. However, in our experience, creating web pages with an average of 3%-10% keyword density in the body text ensures the search engines "understand" what the web pages are about.

What you need to keep in mind is, repeating keywords on a web page beyond what seems natural and easily readable is counterproductive and can result in hurting your search engine ranking and your visitor retention. You should start aiming for a 3% keyword density range first and later tweak your web page content to increase keyword concentration if necessary without sounding too repetitious to the web searchers.

Follow these simple on-page optimization rules for keyword placement and you'll be creating web pages the search engines can truly fall in love with.

  • Use plural forms of the same words wherever possible. You could sometimes use the plural forms of your keywords only in the body text and still rank well for the singular version as well. The same is usually not true in reverse, so use plural forms when it makes sense without hurting readability.

  • Use lexical tools to incorporate related key phrases and synonyms to improve the latent semantic indexing score. One of best tools to use for this research is the Google Keyword Tool. The Google Keyword Tool gives you an option to search for synonyms and best of all it can also show you a relative search volume for each keyword phrase. Another excellent keyword research tool is Clusty. Here is an example of a query executed on Clusty with the keyword "seo,” on the left hand side of the screen you'll see many related key phrases such as "submission,” "tools,” "search engine position,” etc.  

  • Use keyword modifiers such as: "help,” "tip,” "guide,” "buy,” "shop,” "discount,” "affordable" etc.  These words form the "glue" between your words. It's important that you research your top ranking competitors' pages and look for the "hidden glue" between their words and use the some of those words in your own content.

How do search engines see keywords?

Can the search engines "see" and index everything the human eye can see? Let's use a well known online diamond retailer as an example to prove they can't. Bluenile.com is the number one ranking website for the keyword phrase "diamond engagement rings" on Google. Now let's examine the Google version of their home page indexed a few days ago. Google has a neat feature to highlight keywords in cached copy of a web page that was used in a search query.

Refer to the screenshot below, and open the cached copy of Bluenile.com's home page in Google.

The Bluenile.com search engine listing on Google

Below we have added a screenshot of the Bluenile.com's page title and Google's cached copy of their home page to better illustrate their "on-page" keyword optimization. Google has highlighted the individual keywords we have used in our search query "diamond engagement rings" As you can see the keywords appear in the title, web page body and internal links.

The search keyword phrase "diamond engagement rings"
is highlighted in the Google cached page of Bluenile.com

Proving the search engines can't index all text visible to the human eye

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What the human eye can see and what the search engines can "see" are two different things. We are so used to seeing text near images that we sometimes forget the search engines can't extract text from images. Let's try to prove this with our example of the Bluenile.com website.

To get a glimpse into what visible text the search engines can see, follow these steps:

  • Open the Bluenile.com website in your default browser. Go to your default browser's Edit menu and click on the Select All menu option (Keyboard Shortcut CTRL+A)

  • Go back to the Edit menu and this time click on Copy (Keyboard Shortcut CTRL+C)

  • Open Notepad or any other plain text editor ( MS Word or other Rich text editors will not work since they may also import images and other formatting)

  • Click on the Edit menu in your plain text editor and click on Paste (Keyboard Shortcut CTRL+V)

The text you have just captured on your clipboard with the copy command is the visible text which the search engines can index.
Did you notice how all the text that was embedded on the images was not copied to the text editor from the Bluenile.com home page? You should take note of this, and never place important keywords in your image files or flash content.

The visible text captured from Bluenile.com home page

Beyond the visible HTML page elements, search engines also can recognize keywords inserted in META tags Image or Link attributes such as ALT tags and HREF Title tags, which are not visible on the web pages. We will fully explore these keyword optimization options in later lessons.

"On-page" optimization matters... but that's not everything

The above example is a very basic illustration of how keyword optimization works. There are no hard rules for "on-page" keyword optimization that can be applied to one website which would guarantee the same ranking results on another. Some webmasters mistakenly believe that by closely matching the keyword count and keyword density ratios of top ranking websites, their own web pages would automatically start to move to the top of the search result list. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As you will later learn, there are many other external factors that contribute to high search engine ranking that are simply not visible on a web page. We are talking about link popularity and other "off-page" factors.

Keyword placement techniques... starting at the top of the page

Before we get into the specific HTML elements where keywords can be inserted, it's important to first understand what the search engines consider the most important web page elements in their ranking algorithm.

Just like website visitors, the search engines also consider the visible text on a web page to be the most important. Naturally the most prominent HTML web page element is the page title. The page title is a head web page element that is formatted by using the Title tag code as the Bluenile home page example shows below:

<TITLE>Diamonds, Engagement Rings and Fine Jewelry at Blue Nile</TITLE>


The web page title is visible in the top part of your default browser window and the HTML source page. See the screenshot below. Consider the title as the heading of an article or news story.

The well optimized Bluenile.com web page title as displayed in Internet Explorer.

Do you know that the title of every web page becomes the visible link in the search engine search results pages? That's right, when people search Google, Yahoo! or MSN they would find the clickable link in the search results is the same as the title of the page. Just take a look below, do you see any difference? There is none, but if the title tag is too long the search engines use about 60 characters of the title tag and cut the rest off.

The Google search results show the Bluenile website home page title in the search results.

Creating a unique web pages title for each web page on your website is crucial to achieving high search engine ranking. It may be hard to believe, but there are still about 15 million web pages returned by Google which contains the word "Untitled" Don't make the same mistake as those sites, place keywords in your web page titles that match the most often occurring keywords on that web page.

A simple change to the page title can often result in a dramatic increase in search engine rankings without any other supplementary changes.

Second in line of importance is the body text. Without indexable website content even the best written title tags will have no affect on search engine ranking. The key to creating well optimized web pages is the art of repeating the keywords often enough for the search engines to "understand" your website content without sounding too spammy or repetitious to your visitors. In our experience a 300 to 400 word web page copy works best when 2-3 keyword phrases per web page are optimized.

Can you guess what other visible HTML elements are also important to optimize?

If you guessed internal text links, you're right. Incorporating your most important keywords into internal text links and creating inline text links within the body of your web pages is a very effective optimization technique to get higher search engine ranking. As a matter of fact you should have a bottom navigation on every page with the main keywords in the links pointing back to the site's most important pages.

For example, instead of linking to your home page like this:

<a href="index.html">Home</a> Home


A much better and more effective link would look like this:

<a href="index.html">Home of Great Golf Shoes</a> Home of Great Golf Shoes



Optimizing visible HTML elements

We have listed the most important visible HTML elements in order of importance in the table below. Don't forget the search engines focus on words and phrases that are emphasized with different text decoration techniques such as heading text (H1, H2, H3) , bold (<strong>) or italicized text (<em>), so add emphasis to your key phrases but don't over do it.

Did you know the search engines differentiate between the <strong> and <b> tags even though they produce identical visual display results? We recommend the use of the <strong> tag to bold keywords over the <b> tag and for italicizing we prefer using the <em> tag over the <i> tag.

Visible HTML Elements

Visible HTML Element

Important Notes

Description and Usage Example

Website Title

  • The words in the title tag of your page also need to exist in the body text and various headings in the actual content of your HTML page.

  • Each page of your website should have a unique title tag targeting various keyword combinations and phrases

  • Place two to three keywords in the title that are the most often repeated on the web page including the plural forms.

  • Don't put keywords in the title that are not contained on the web page

  • Don't use stopwords or "dead" word such as "with, the, and, of or welcome..."

  • Keep the total number of characters under 60, or 4 to 6 Words

  • The keyword density range should be between 10%-100%

  • You should use the website or business name in the home page title.

Title is the text placed between title tags in the HEAD section and it is used to identify contents of the web page.
The Title tag also becomes the clickable link in the search results once your pages become indexed. Creating a catchy persuasive Title tag will increase the click through rate of your links in the search results.

Example: <TITLE>title goes here</TITLE>

Body Text

  • Body text between 250-400 words work best, but write freely and don't try to force on yourself word count rules.

  • Create 2-3 sentence long paragraphs and break them apart with line or paragraph breaks

  • Sprinkle your keywords into body text while maintaining good readability. Use plural forms, lexically related term and modifiers.

  • Incorporate your keywords into the body text in the top, middle and bottom of your web pages

  • Use keywords in heading tags to break apart sections

  • Use keywords in bulleted or numbered lists where it makes sense

  • Link to other web pages where a link to a related subject makes sense using the keywords

  • Use strong, bold or italicized text for emphasizing keywords

  • The keyword density range should be between 3%-10% in the body text

Body text is the text visible in the browser.

Example: <BODY>this is where your body text goes</BODY>

Link Text (Anchor Text)

  • Place two to three keywords in the link text. As a rule you should use the first keyword in the link text that appears in the title of the linked page

  • Refer to the Title tag section for optimization notes

  • Don't use stop words.

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Link text is the clickable text which connects one web page to another.

Example: <A HREF="page.html">link text goes here</A>

Headings H1-H6

  • Insert your keywords into the heading text while keeping the total word count under 5-6

  • Use H1-H3 heading mainly and keep the logical order of the heading tags numerical sequence

  • Don't repeat the same heading more than once on the same web page

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Headings are used as the topics of the website's sections.

Heading Tags <h1> and <h2> tags used to emphasize keywords. Heading tags are a great way to boost the importance of your keywords; they are also given more weight by search engines compared to regularly formatted text or text between bold or strong font tags. Heading tags range from <H1> (bigger text, signifying more importance) to <H2>, <h3>, <h4>, <H2> and <h6> (smaller text, signifying least importance).

Example: <H1>heading 1 goes here</H1>

Strong Text

  • Use it to add emphasis to keywords

  • Don't apply this style to every keyword occurrence on the web page

Strong text is used for stronger emphasis and is usually displayed in bold font.

Example: <STRONG>strong text goes here</STRONG>

Bold Text

  • See Strong text notes

Bold text is used as a font styling element to signify important words or sections in the web page.

Example: <B>bold text goes here</B>

Italic Text

  • See Strong text notes

Italic text is used as a font styling element to point out new terms, book or article titles etc.

Example: <I>italic text goes here</I>

EM Text

  • See Strong text notes

Em text is used for emphasis and is usually displayed in italic font.

Example: <EM>em text goes here</EM>

Cite Text

  • See Strong text notes

Cite text is used for citations or reference to other sources.

Example: <CITE>cite text goes here</CITE>

Abbr Text

  • See Strong text notes

Abbr text is used for abbreviations which are shortened forms of words like HTML, FBI or WWW.

Example: <ABBR>abbr text goes here</ABBR>

Acronym Text

  • See Strong text notes

Acronym Text:

Acronym text is used for pronounceable abbreviations like NATO. It is also used for shortened forms of word like Inc. for Incorporated or Lab. for laboratory.

Example: <ACRONYM>acronym text goes here</ACRONYM>

Table Caption

  • Use keywords in describing a table's content

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Table caption is used as a short description of the table's purpose usually displayed below the table.

Example: <TABLE><CAPTION>caption goes here<CAPTION></TABLE>

Domain, File and Folder Names

  • Place keywords into folder and file names and  separate them with hyphens

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Most search engines look for keywords in domain, folder and web page names.

Example: http://www.keyword.com/


Optimizing invisible HTML elements

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One of the most important invisible web page elements is the META description. This tag is especially important to include and optimize in the header section, as most of the major search engines use the META description as a partial or full description of the website in their search results. We can see an example of the META description directly taken from the Bluenile.com home page by Google and inserted in the search results. Gaining control over how your website is "described" in the search results can increase the clickthroughs of your search listings.

An example of the META description directly taken from the page source and placed under the website title in the Google search results.

We can incorporate keywords into other HTML page elements that are not visible on the web page, but still can be "seen" and indexed by the search engines. Include keywords in the HTML sections below. Although optimizing these less important HTML tags will most likely not result in a great ranking increase, they are nonetheless a suggested optimization task for websites targeting very competitive keyword phrases.


Invisible HTML Elements

Invisible HTML Element

Important Notes

Description and Usage Example

META Description




  • Write one or two sentences that describes the web page, don't simply list keywords

  • Place two to three keywords in the META Description section that are most often repeated on the web page

  • Don't put keywords in the META Description section that are not contained on the web page

  • Keep the total number of characters under 300, or 20 to 40 words

  • Ensure every page of your site contains a unique META Description

  • The keyword density range should be between 5%-10%

Description is the text placed in the META tag in the HEAD section and is used as a short description of the web page's content.

The META Descriptions are often included in the search listings as a brief description of your site, sometime word for word, so it's very important to include them on your pages.

Example: <META NAME="description" CONTENT="description goes here">

META Keywords

  • List the first 20-30 most often occurring keywords separated by commas

  • Don't put keywords in the META Keywords section that are not contained on the web page

  • Don't repeat the same keyword phrase more than once

  • Keep the total number of characters under 255, or 20 to 40 keywords

  • Ensure every page of your site contains a unique META Keywords

Keywords are the terms placed in the META tag in the HEAD section and are used specifically for search engines which look for search terms that apply to the web page. Keywords should be separated by commas.

It's not necessary to include the META keywords as they don't have any positive ranking affect and it will not show up in the search results listings unlike the META Description

Example: <META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="keywords go here">

Link Title

  • Place two to three keywords in the link title. As a rule you should use the first keyword in the link title that appears in the title of the linked page

  • Refer to the Title tag section for optimization notes

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Link title is the attribute of the link and adds information about the link; it is rendered as a tool tip in the browser.

Example: <A HREF="page.html" TITLE="link title goes here">text</A>

Image Alt Tags

  • Place two to three keywords in the image Alt tag that best describes what the image is about

  • Refer to the Title tag section for optimization notes

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Alt tag is an alternative text that is displayed as a tool tip in the browser. It is also used as image description in browsers that do not support images, browsers that have image support turned off, speech synthesizers and visually impaired users.

Example: <IMG SRC="image.gif" ALT="alt text goes here">

Image File Names


  • Place keywords into image file names and  separate them with hyphens

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Image names are the names of the image files.

Example: <IMG SRC="image-name-goes-here.gif">

Table Summary

  • Write one sentence that best describes the table's content. Don't simply list keywords

  • The keyword density range should be between 50%-100%

Table summary is used for describing the table's contents and purpose to non-visual media.

Example: <TABLE SUMMARY="summary description goes here">



  • Examine your website code and make sure you get your keywords as close to the beginning of your page as possible, preferably the in the first 100 words. Your goal is to put keywords towards the very beginning of your web page since search engines give those a much higher relevance. The rest of the page should have keywords near the middle and bottom as well.

  • If you have JavaScript at the top of your web pages make sure you move them toward the end of your web pages, or better yet, create an externally linkable JavaScript file and place your code there.

  • Make sure your website has a site map. A site map is a listing of all sections of a website with individual links to every page. The site map enables visitors to click on the site map links and move directly to a specific section on the website, which improves the site usability. Your site map should be linked from the home page as the site map assists crawlers in finding and indexing all of your pages and the home page is usually the first entry page to your site.

  • Add a glossary of terms page for the most frequent industry keywords and their definitions. We have discussed in the competition research lesson how to find competing sites for your keyword phrases with the Google "define" command. Now it's time to gain some advantage for your own site by adding a glossary of terms page of your own.

  • After you've optimized your pages, check and re-check each page with the SEO Studio Keyword Analyzer to ensure you have achieved the desired concentrations of keyword density and prominence of keywords in each page compared to your competitors top ranking pages. Keep on repeating the optimization and tweaking process until you are satisfied with the Keyword Analyzer report.

  • Inbound links to a website most often will have a far greater importance than perfectly optimized web pages. Don't fuss too much over the perfectly optimized web page, in our experience there is no such thing, as the engines are constantly changing their methods for scoring page content. Instead, focus your efforts on building content that other websites will naturally want to link to.

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