I am fortunate to work with a talented team of experts at NetSource Technologies. One of these experts is Ed Cehi, our search engine consultant. Ed gave me a few minutes of his valuable time to answer some common questions clients ask me.
Brent: What is the first thing a site owner can do to increase SEO visibility?
Ed: There’s not really one singular thing that a site owner can do to improve their SEO visibility as there is a multitude of different things. But if there was one thing that I would do I would say to optimize the site for the end user and not the search engines. Because when you do that it helps the search engines. When you optimize the site with content, especially relative content towards the keywords you’re trying to target, that helps the search engines get an idea of exactly what it is that you’re trying to provide to the user.
Brent: Some people might look to their competitor’s websites for keywords, what do you think about that concept of grabbing keywords from competitor’s websites?
Ed: Well, you’re putting a lot of trust in what your competitors are doing, which isn’t always necessarily the best thing to do. It’s always a great starting point as of course you should go and research your competitor’s keywords to see exactly what they are targeting, but from that point on you still need to do your own keyword research. When you optimize a site with content and add a bunch of competitor keywords just for the sake that they are using those keywords, you don’t want keyword stuffing. If by adding competitor keywords you now have 20 or 30 keywords it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to search engines, because what you’re doing is diluting what your target keywords are.
It’s like making a jug of Kool-Aid – you start off with a little bit of sugar and a little powder, and then you add water. In this case the water being words on the site, the Kool-Aid being your targeted keyword, the more water you add to that the more you’re diluting it and drawing attention away from it. You add enough water to it and you’re not going to be able to see the Kool-Aid, you’re not going to be able to taste it. It works the same way with SEO – you don’t want to dilute your keywords, especially your targeted themed keywords so much with an overabundance of what they call “happy text” that doesn’t relate to your message. If you over dilute your targeted keywords the way we would add too much water to Kool-Aid, if search engines are trying to drink it, how are they supposed to know what it’s supposed to taste like. If you keep everything balanced and have a high density ratio for that targeted keyword on any one singular page, then when those search engines drink your Kool-Aid, there’s no question what it is they are tasting – there’s no question what it is your keyword is. That may be a weird analogy, but…
Brent: It is definitely memorable!
What if you have a competitor’s website that is ranking very well and their content is very similar and what they are selling is very similar to you, how much does checking out their website and seeing what ideas you can get from them… how does that play into things?
Ed: Well, number one, you don’t want to teeter on the line of duplicate content. When you start talking about grabbing stuff from other people’s sites…
Brent: Not ripping them off, just getting ideas for keywords?
Ed: It’s a great starting point, but I would never ever go to a competitor’s site and say “Ok I like their keywords, let’s use them” – I’d go and I’d research those keywords myself to see how it applies to the site I’m optimizing.
Brent: What about singular words vs. plural words? Should you optimize separately for those or does the search engines automatically know that if you have that word singularly, that it’s going to look for it plural too?
Ed: That’s a highly debated topic. Me personally, I know for a fact Google doesn’t really care from my experiences. I don’t like it when people go around and say “Google does this and Google does that”. Well, nobody knows what Google does, but we have our own little idea as…
Brent: We’ve all done our own testing and learn what works and what doesn’t.
Ed: Exactly. We’ve all done our own testing to develop our own ideas and I feel confident in saying that yes Google doesn’t really care, because when you go and do a search in Google, you’ll find that when the results come up your keywords that you typed in will all be bolded. You try that with a singular, you try that with a plural and you’ll notice that it doesn’t matter. However, a plural ending with an “ies” is a different story.
Brent: Good point. So if you have a flower shop with a website, should you focus on optimizing for the keyword of “flower” or “flowers” or both?
Ed: Singular is fine.
Re-post from my blog at: http://netsourcebrent.wordpress.com