The most common challenge I face in helping clients with SEO is the disconnect between the content of their website their desire to rank for long lists of various keywords. Business owners often present a wish list of keywords to their SEO provider. They believe it is still 2008 and we can put that list into a “meta keyword” section of a site. Then like Wallstreet stock traders an SEO magically presents this list to Google in just the right way. This stems from a myth that there are hidden coding elements of every website that hold the keys to ranking for everything you want.
I am going to present you with a simple equation to think about. Take the number of keywords you want to rank for and divide that number by two. This is the number of pages you will need filled with 800 or so words of good content about those keywords. You might be able to group the keywords together into related pairs and devote one page to each pair. However, If you are really interested in a few in particular, then devote one page to each of those keywords. This is what Google wants to see and is based on deliver the best search results to users.
These rules make sense if you stop to consider them. Google is saying that if you deserve to be listed on page one, it is because you are presenting the user with the richest and deepest content about the search term. This is why the new saying of SEO is “content is king”. Basically if you offer 5 major services then you should have 5 unique pages in your site, each devoted to one of the services with 800 to 1000 words of well written content. If there are less popular “long tail” searches about those services then you can group a few of those and write entire pages about those keywords. Google rewards this type of specificity.
People mistakenly think the term “long tail” refers to the length of the actual phrase, but this is incorrect. It actually comes from the statistical world and describes the shape of a standard statistical distribution. As you move along the x-axis away from the median of the data the curve drops down to near zero but continues often at a very low value creating a “long tail”. In terms of search keywords it refers to the search strings that are less often used but still significant enough to generate traffic for your site.
There actually are some hidden coding tactics left. There is one that manages the way that a magical property called “page rank” moves through a link from one page to another online. This is named for one of the founders of Google (Larry Page) and is a virtual property of a page determined by what other pages link to that page and what pages link to those pages. Only higher authority pages can lift your page with a backlink. By understanding the pagerank principles we can make link structure decisions in a website that can channel and move pagerank to the more competitive content to help rank higher in tougher environments.
In general SEO success is achieved by adhering strictly to many small “best practice” rules for page setup, link structure and content writing. It is like lining up several mirrors so that a laser light will bounce off of them all to reach the end of the sequence. If all the mirrors are slight “off” then the laser light doesn’t make the journey.