When optimizing your website, it is generally expected that your pages need to have certain keyword density to be ranked with the search engines. While it is a good idea to have at least one keyword on the page, you also need to remember that real people will be reading your pages, so you need to also write your text for the people.
What words to use?
Search engines try to view websites like people to better understand what the sites are about, how relevant they are to the search queries, what the intent is behind them and so forth. It means that you need to make the site relevant to your target audience, which will also help the search engines.
To use words naturally, you need to know your audience by:
- talking to them, if you have an office or meet your customers face to face
- visiting the websites they visit and read what they read
- use various keyword research tools, such as WordTracker, to determine which words and phrases are more popular
- read the news about the industry to gather the widely known or new phrases
- be an expert in the industry your website is about, so you'll know not only your audience, but also competitors, products and so forth
In terms of making the website relevant to your customers, you need to know their needs, values and what words they use, when thinking and talking about your product
Where to place the keywords?
To create the website and pages that your visitors will understand, you also need to place the words where the visitors will see them, such as in the:
- page titles (the title tag)
- page headings (the h1 tag) and subheadings (h2-h6 tags)
- text body (paragraph tags, lists, data tables, etc)
- internal link text that you can control (from your other pages)
- URL (the file name, file path, even if was created by a content management system)
If a page has the keyword you are targetting in all of the above points, then the visitor will understand that the page is at least related to it or maybe even about the subject. So will the search engines, which will drive targeted traffic to your website.
How to place the keywords?
Once you know the words you need to use and where to place them, you can get to work:
- think about the customers, their needs and what they can get/do on the page
- write about the value that the people can get from the page/website and provide an easy way to do that
- write as if you are writing to a friend, because people love personality and don't trust informal, corporate writing
- use the words your customers use naturally, thinking how it would most suit your readers
- use call to action with the verb, related to the topic, such as "Download SEO software", not just "SEO software download"
You simply need to write for the people, about how easily they'll get what they came for and how to get it. The search engines will follow.
You may wonder, "Why should I write for the people, not for the search engines, since they rank the websites?" That's a good question. The thing is, that though the search engines index and rank websites, people choose which website to visit by checking the page title (tag) and the snippet they see underneat (taken from meta description or from the page), so you need to make the page human friendly.
Also, it is humans who pay your bills, and you need to make sure that visitors actually convert to customers and you can only do that with human and value focused approach. Remember: the search engines follow how humans view and value websites, not the other way around.
Use the words right
But simply having the words your visitors know and can relate to doesn't end what you can do to help them find what they want on your website. You can also use:
- words to create the information scent for your visitors (so they follow the words that interest them)
- call to action to motivate people do certain things they want on your website, such as 'get more tips by subscribing to the newsletter'
- points of resolution (actions that lead to the final conversion) to make the process of moving down the buying process easier
In essence, you need to use the words to inspire people action that interests them and where you can assist them. Of course, you need to have the udnerlying offers, technologies and content to make this possible, but this is another topic altogether.
Generally, the whole optimization thing is about making it easy for people to find what they want. If you provide what people want and make it easy to find it on your website, you've got a conversion or even a sale. Using words that your customers use is just one of the tactics to make this happen.