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Five Critical On-Page Factors Which Must Be Manipulated for High Search Engine Rankings

Mar 26, 2008
Following are five critical elements that must be properly manipulated to optimize a web page to rank highly in search engines for a particular keyword. Optimizing these elements is a process known as "on-site" or "on-page" optimization. On-page factors are those factors that you can control - the way your web pages are coded, how you write your copy, etc. To be successful in online marketing, you have to balance writing sales copy that will have a strong influence on your prospects and doing the things that will result in search engine rankings. The best approach is to start out writing for the humans who will be reading your web content, and then tweak it for the search engines.

1. Title tag

The title tag is the single most important element to optimize. Tthe most important keyword or phrase should be the first words in the title. Try to keep the title length to around 8 to 10 words. While you need to write the title for search engines by emphasizing the correct keywords and minimizing length, you also need to keep in mind that the text needs to compel a person who sees the page title in a page of search results to click on the link to check out your web site.

2. Header tag

Header tags are viewed as markers of important content. We recommend placing a header (H1) tag above the main content of the body of your web page. Your most important keywords should be at or near the beginning of the header tag.

3. Keyword density

Keyword density is the number of times a keyword or phrase appears in an area of a web page divided by the total number of words in that area. For instance, if the word "investment" appears three times in the body section of a web page, and there are a total of 200 words, then the keyword density would 1.5% (3 / 200).

Keyword density must be measured carefully. If it is too low, you will lose out on relevancy for the search phrase. If it is too high, the search engines might think you are trying to spam your way into their indexes, and you will be penalized. A good target to shoot for might be 3 - 5%. We recommend not going much above 5%. 10% is probably too high. For a more accurate analysis of what your keyword density should be, you should compare the keyword density in the body (and other sections) of your web pages to web pages that already rank high for a particular search phrase. This is a good strategy in general - mimic, and then improve upon, what sites are doing that already rank highly for your desired search phrases.

You should measure your keyword density separately in different parts of your web page - the body, the title, header tags, alt tags, etc. Each of these will be considered separately in ranking your site. You can calculate keyword density manually by counting the words, or you can use any number of software or online tools.

4. Keyword prominence

Keyword prominence is how near the beginning of an area of a web page the keyword appears. For instance, if the keyword is the first word in the body text of a web page, then the keyword prominence is 100%. The closer to the beginning of a section (thus, the higher the keyword prominence) the more relevant the web page is considered for that keyword. We highly recommend that you place your most important keywords at the very beginning of your page title and as near the beginning of the body copy as possible.

5. Keyword frequency

Keyword frequency is the total number of times that a keyword or phrase appears in an area of a web page. For the title, we recommend a keyword frequency of one or two at the most. Any more than that, and you might be accused of keyword stuffing the title tag. For the body copy, use the keyword as many times as you can, but use keyword density as the measure of when to stop. As a rule of thumb, you want to get keyword frequency as high as you can while keeping keyword density around 5%.

If you carefully scrutinize your web pages for these five elements, the result will be web pages which are well-optimized (on-site) for your keywords.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, a pay per click management and search engine optimization firm based in Nashville.
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