According to Google’s SEO Starter Guide (2011), it is important to ensure that text is easy to read and avoids spelling and grammatical mistakes. Secondly, content should be organized into topics, so that the start and end of a paragraph is clear. Google describes that using paragraphs and subheadings are added benefits. Most importantly, content should be created for users and not search engines. Unique, fresh content should be created to retain visitors and attract new ones.
In addition to the above, the authors (Grzywaczewski; Iqbal; Shah; James; 2010) point out that 5 keywords per page should ideally be focused on when generating quality content. Interestingly, keywords higher up in a given page are believed to receive more recognition from search engines than the same keyword further down a page.
Recommended amount of content per page?
In relation to the size of each page, it is suggested that pages should contain between 100 and 250 words. To support this from a different perspective, Nielsen and Loranger (2006) estimated that a typical visitor would view a webpage for 45-60 seconds and in that time could read a maximum of 200 words of text.
Is too much page content a bad thing?
From a different point of view, too much text on websites could be seen as “bad writing”. An interesting approach to solve this problem can be taken from Johnson (2007). It is suggested that text on each page of a website should be halved, then the remaining text should be halved again to achieve maximum effectiveness. However, pages with less than 100 words could be deemed “lightweight” losing potential rankings in search engines. Overall then, content should be valuable and informative to users and structured in a way that is of most relevance to the page.
Header elements are key to optimizing website content for both user and search engine purposes. The Header 1 (H1) tag should be used to define the most important section of a page, whilst Header 2 and 3 (H2, H3) can be used for other important sections of a page. Importantly, content should be seperated with headers to improve the readability and navigational aspects of a website. To support this, web developers will know that by default the h1 tag is the largest in size, signifying greater importance.
Given that more weighting is placed on H1 headers, a common miss-practice is for website owners to use H1 headers throughout the page. This is because the importance of headers can be “watered-down” and therefore losing weighting on the keywords used and subsequent headers. To support this, it is also noted in Google’s SEO Starter Guide (2011), that headings should be using sparingly across the page.
Further to the above suggestions, it is necessary for website owners to highlight certain parts of the text that are intended for users to look at. This can be achieved through the use of text modifiers which are beneficial both from a user and search engine perspective. As for example, the use of text modifier can be used to put emphasis on a primary keyword or phrase within the content to denote importance (bold/strong text). Additionally the use of italics can emphasise certain words in italics.
However, many people believe that overusing such methods could result in a ranking penalty. Furthermore, according to Google’s SEO Starter Guide (2011), the following practices should also be avoided.
Things to be avoided
1. Inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines.
2. Having blocks of text that add little value for users.
3. Deceptively hiding text from users, but displaying it to search engines.