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The art to writing Google friendly copy that won’t turn website visitors away 13 October, 2007

Posted by Adam in Blogroll, Business, General, Web marketing.
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A client recently asked us at Rokk Media how much weight should be given in writing copy to search engine spiders, as opposed to site visitors.

Taking Google as an example, one of the ways that your site will achieve a reasonable Google position is how relevant Google believes your site is when people are searching for certain key terms (don’t get hung up on individual words per se – nobody searches on one word – e.g. Fish – they are more likely to search for a particular type of fish, or a more descriptive term such as “store that sells tropical fish”). A good example of where this is important is with a site we launched recently promoting a local angling club.

This site has Google adverts embedded in the page – and Google decides which adverts to serve up dependent on the content it finds in the site. One of the things I love about implementing Google Adwords in a page is how instantly you get feedback on how relevant Google thinks the content it! Where there is very little text, or where what is there has few specific terms – Google serves up completely unrelated adverts! It’s doing it’s best to match relevant adverts, but without really strong textual clues it doesn’t stand a chance.

So, as an example – “We pride ourselves as an organisation on the quality of fishing that we can offer our members” – is a meaningful and heartfelt opening sentence to you and me – but as far as Google is concerned only one word – fishing has any relevance. What does that mean to Google? It’s a partial clue – but it could simply mean a place that sells fish. Instead it could have been written “As an association of keen anglers and fishermen, we pride ourselves on the quality of fishing available in the rivers and lakes around Anytown”. As you can see the difference is subtle to the reader, but to Google we now have Anglers, Fishermen, Fishing, Rivers, Lakes and a place – Anytown – seven words that can be used to match up fare more relevant adverts (or visitors searching for those terms).

Some sites really go overboard and have reams and reams of keyword stuffed text. Google bait although you also risk being penalised for keyword stuffing. But to casual visitors to the site it can also be off-putting waffle and can just as easily turn them away. Bearing in mind that the object for many sites is to convert visitors into customers that’s the last thing that we want.

So – bear in mind when writing copy that the art is in saying enough without writing too much. Write a list of the kinds of words and phrases you believe your customers may use to find your products in Google –
and make sure these are reflected in the relevant pages of your site. If your site has been up and running for a while, make sure you review what search terms people are actually using to find you by using Google Analytics or a web traffic statistics application, and then better tailor your copy accordingly.

Remember that your customer is king – but Google is the coachman that brings them to you. Without suitable directions your site may as well be at the wrong end of a one-way street!

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