You may have heard of the common business principle of the 80/20 rule, such as 20% of employees do 80% of an organisation’s work, or 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. The list goes on.
Well, this post is meant to address the issue of “when is too much, too much”? How can we spend 20% of our SEO/Search Engine Optimisation efforts to achieve 80% of the result from a purely page optimisation perspective?
Why Organic Rankings and Traffic?
There are a lot of theories and ideas from various people on how to optimise a page to rank organically for search phrases and drive organic traffic on search engine results page (SERP). The value of organic rankings and traffic is that it does not cost you money as opposed to spending money on advertising to drive traffic and be seen for what user’s search for (such as Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing).
So what does that mean? Imagine if your website is listed on the first page of Google’s SERP for the phrase “buy digital camera”, your traffic would be sky rocketing with an estimate average search volume of 135,000 (as reported by Google Adwords Keyword Tool) and thus, driving digital camera sales since the phrase shows the intent of the user, which is to “buy”.
And it hasn’t costed you anything in advertising.
The 20% Effort
Keywords & Content
It is important to optimise your page based on keyword phrases you would like to target. This means optimising certain page elements that will affect how search engines determine how relevant your page is to the keyword phrase and also how your page shows in search engine page results (SERP).
One of, if not, the most important factors in search engine optimisation is the page title. This is the <title> tag found within the <head> tag. They contribute the most in terms of visualisation in the SERP.
Keywords should be used at least once or twice here.
The URL is also important as they are displayed on the SERP. Keywords should be used at least once here.
Google usually automatically extracts content from the page and displays it in the SERP if there isn’t any meta description. One might argue that since Google does that, you can save a lot of pain by not bothering with the meta description.
While this may be partially true, there’s no guarantee that Google will display optimised content in the SERP, and thus it is important to write your own optimised meta description. If your website has thousands of pages, this is quite unlikely you’ll write a custom meta description for each page.
In this case, focus your efforts on the homepage and category pages instead and let your CMS auto-generate the meta description for the other pages.
Keywords should be used at least two or three times here.
Traditionally, content is usually broken down by headings to ensure readability, clarity and structure. Keywords in the H1 tag (at least once) is another contributing factor as it contributes naturally to the content structure.
Image Alt Attribute
This is an area where most people usually ignore or glance over. Although search engine crawlers aren’t able to read and index images, they certainly are able to read and index the image alt attribute. Keywords should be used at least once or twice here.
To bring it further, you may also want to rename the image file with the keywords.
With a lot of highly optimised out there, I believe that the natural tendency is to optimise site structure (as mentioned above) but to neglect writing good, relevant and informative content. This is actually the hard part of SEO!
You may have heard that “content is king”, and I believe that statement is very true. One of the major drivers I believe search engines should aspire towards is to provide useful, relevant and informative content to searchers, to be able to contribute to the world wide community and make the Internet a resourceful medium of communication and information.
With that, I also believe that over a period of time, search engines will (or they should!) place higher priority on content quality rather than optimised site structure. Perhaps they already do.
So yes, do some research and find out what the latest hot topics are and write content about them. And make sure you write in context! Don’t be like those spam pages that automatically extract content from other websites and have a bunch of content that has relevant keywords but as a whole, makes no sense at all.
I was reading an article by SEOmoz, similar to what I’m blogging about, and they recommend that keywords should be bolded at least once. Well, I’m not entirely convinced about this but hey, why not try it as it fits in the 20% effort. I’m sure doing a CTRL b (using a “What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)” editor) won’t hurt.
I believe if you follow this simple guideline above, you will be able to achieve 80% of the result with 20% effort on page optimisation.
Of course there is more to this on search engine optimisation such as link juice, link building and so on. Hopefully I will have time to cover the other topics of SEO.