by Karon Thackston © 2006, All Rights Reserved
As long as I’ve been an SEO copywriter, I never knew that Google had its own trust factor with relation to site pages and their copy. Yet, a recent column in the Google Librarian Newsletter did a wonderful job of explaining what Google is looking for in the way of copy. These are practices I’ve preached with fervor for years. This information can help your copywriting become a trusted source for Google and potentially aid in increasing your rankings.
As I started reading the original issue of this newsletter, Matt Cutts began to explain that Google uses many factors (other than Page Rank) to evaluate and rank pages. Matt continues to describe the use of keywords and their relationships to other page factors.
For instance, let’s say one keyphrase you’re working with in your copy is “flat monitor.” I’ve preached for years that keyphrases work best when all the words remain in their exact order. That is, when you use the entire phrase “flat monitor” as opposed to only using the single words “flat” and “monitor” individually. Matt confirms this by saying relevance and trust might be increased in Google’s eyes when the words “flat” and “monitor” are used next to each other.
Why would it matter? Because “flat” can refer to practically anything. That word by itself could easily be used on a page that has absolutely nothing to do with monitors. While the word “monitor” can refer to a screen used with a computer, there are many different types of monitors. If the search query were specifically for “flat monitors,” pages about CRT monitors and other types would have little relevance and therefore wouldn’t be deemed trustworthy. “Monitor” can also mean to observe, which would be irrelevant to the search query used in our example. So, using the phrase as it was typed into the search engine is the most relevant application.
What else? Have your keyphrase in the title. While Matt doesn’t say this is a vital element, he does suggest that it “gives a hint” that the page would be more relevant, and therefore trustworthy, to the subject matter at hand than a document that does not include the keyphrase in the title.
Toward the end of the article, Matt refers to Google’s preference to choose the most trusted sites to include in their database. It’s in a subsequent issue of the Google Librarian Newsletter that Matt explains, in part, other ways Google evaluates trust.
The fonts used on the page and the placement of words on the page are included in assessing trust. Also, an examination of the text of other pages of the site is included. Of course, this is not the entire equation. As originally stated, Google uses many factors to determine the relevance and trust of copy. These are just a few.
But what about copy that isn’t trustworthy? What practices do you want to avoid? In a thread on Matt’s blog (from April 26th), Matt discusses penalties. During the thread, a segment of horrible text is shown as an example of how not to write SEO copy. Matt’s comments about the copy include mentions of these offenses: keyword stuffing, deliberate inclusion of misspelled words, gibberish text (the kind normally generated by automated copywriting programs), doorway pages and hidden text on the page. If you are currently practicing any of these techniques, you might want to seriously (and quickly) adjust your copywriting strategy.
The bottom line is that Google wants to include pages that are highly relevant. By writing your copy in such a way to highlight the relevant factors of the content for Google, you also contribute to your visitors’ experiences. It’s a win-win-win situation that benefits you, Google and those who come to your site.