Improving Search Visibility Without Keyword Stuffing

The definition of 'SEO' has become frankly lamentable in the past few years.

Article databases whose entire library consists of keyword-stuffed, poorly spun content ruled the rankings for a little while, but Google's Panda update sorted that one out.

Even so, you can often tell that a site has been 'optimised' when the opening paragraphs contain entire phrases that don't make much grammatical sense, yet are repeated two, three or four times.

The really sad thing about that, from my own point of view as a lover of language, is that there's really no need to destroy your sentence structure in order to rank highly for your target keywords.

First of all, there's usually a way of including them that at least approximates proper grammar, and won't trip up the vast majority of readers.

But you can go further - and optimise your site without touching the existing on-page text.

Optimising the Invisible Elements

I always try to stress that search engine optimisation is just that - it's about achieving the optimal search visibility for a page.

You won't get there, for example, by stuffing a few hotly contested phrases into your opening paragraph.

If you already have well-written text in place, look instead at the other places where you can put keywords into your HTML (or whatever web language your page is written in) without them being visible to most users.

That doesn't mean hiding them with white text on a white background, or hidden divs - Google specifically tells webmasters not to do that - but simply making the most of the metadata that a web page can contain.

Header Meta Tags

They're not as important as they used to be, but it's still worth adding meta tags to your page's header section.

A keyword-led title tag should still help your ranking, while keyword and description tags are still a useful place to drop in any ungrammatical keyword phrases that you can't use sensibly in your paragraph text.

As always in SEO, try to repeat your primary keywords a decent, but not dominating, number of times. Meta tags are an ideal place to get a bit of repetition in, without compromising the readability of your on-page text.

Titles and Alt Text

Likewise, you can often use keywords more easily in image captions (both visible and of the sort that pop up as a tooltip-style box when you point to the picture with your cursor), in the 'alt' text that is traditionally used to improve website accessibility for the visually impaired, and in the pop-up descriptive text that can be added to hyperlinks.

Pop-up title text, alt text and image captions generally don't need to be visible by default, but offer a limitless number of keyword containers - simply add more images and hyperlinks to your page to increase the number of 'hidden' keywords you can use.

CSS and Formatting

The wrong way:
  • white text on a white background
  • hidden divs full of keyword-stuffed text
  • hyperlinks formatted to look like normal text

The right way:
  • use h1, h2 tags etc to highlight keyworded sub-headings
  • embolden legitimately important words and phrases
  • use keywords in hyperlink anchor text if grammatical and appropriate

Where to Begin?

If your website has decent on-page text but performs poorly in search results, I'll happily consult on how you can add more keywords to it, without having to bastardise your lovingly written content.

Get in touch and I'll take a look and quote you a consultancy fee, for which I'll make a number of recommendations of how you can invisibly optimise your meta tags, images, hyperlinks, sub-headings, and various other elements of the page.

Similarly, if you're on a blogging platform, I can offer tips on how to give your pages individual meta tags, or create them automatically by adding the right piece of code to your site template.

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