Articles for Webmasters     Keywords and Body Content

Keywords are the means by which search engines match queries to websites. The words a user types in during a query are compared against those indexed for websites. Where there is a match, the site is listed as a result for that query. Other factors such as site popularity, age and size also affect the outcome, but keywords form the core of the matching process.

There are many different locations on a web page where keywords can be included. It is often thought that the 'keywords' meta tag is the essential place to focus on during design, however it has been so abused that search engines attribute little credibility to it, and some don't index it at all. One of the most important places to include keywords is in the body content of your website. This is where the page content that the user wants to see will be found. It is reasonable, therefore, that the keywords and search terms will be found here also.

When including keywords in the body content, it is important that they are included as they would occur naturally, and are not used too often. Search engines have intelligent algorithms that will know if particular words are over-used compared with normal usage, and your site will be penalized if this is found to be the case. Use keywords intelligently and naturally, and your website will be acceptable to the algorithms.

As with other tags, words found at the start of text are deemed to be more important than words found at the end of the text. Your body text should therefore start with keywords. Having created the starting set of words, write the rest of the page content, including the keywords naturally in the text throughout the page. Finish off the text by including the keywords in a closing sentence or comment. Wherever you include keywords, be careful not to be seen to be 'stuffing' keywords in the text too often.

Keywords should also be included in other tags within the body. It is important that they are used in hyperlinks and image tags, and anywhere they can naturally be added. Keywords used in free body text are particularly important as this text is the true content of the website.

The quantity of text on the page is also an indicator of the relevance of that page to a search query. A page with little text will be viewed as having less worth than a page with more content. A higher volume of text on the page will also make it easier for you to distribute keywords evenly and appropriately throughout the page. Where there is less text, there will be fewer opportunities to include keywords, and you may be tempted to include more than would be wise when analyzed by search engine spiders.

It is a reasonable assumption by the search engine planners that a web page with content that is relevant to a query will have the query text distributed through it, and occurring at appropriate intervals. The task of the website developer is to create an acceptable quantity of meaningful content, and to include keywords that are statistically acceptable to search engine algorithms and grammatically acceptable to those reading the text. Master this, and you will have a skill many website developers will envy.

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