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July 22, 2009
No Magic SEO Formula

If you think that having your keyword phrases “in all the right places for SEO” is a good thing, think again! Stuff that worked like a charm for many people in the early years of SEO may actually hurt rather than help now. Unfortunately, there’s just no magic formula for SEO. For as long as I’ve been doing SEO (over 14 years now), I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t want to tip off the engines that my sites were SEO’d. This is one of the reasons I’ve never used keyword-rich domain names since that’s an obvious SEO tip-off.

The most important aspect to being a good SEO is creativity. It’s not about following specific rules for putting keyword phrases here and there, this or that many number of times. Not every page needs an H1 heading with keyword phrases in it. If your page isn’t designed to use H1 headings, you don’t need to change it to use one just for SEO purposes. And many images don’t really and truly make sense with a keyword phrase in their alt attribute (alt tag). Don’t force one to be there just for the search engines.

Write Naturally and Descriptively

Most importantly for Google (and for your users), when it comes to your page content and how you use your visible keyword phrases, less is definitely more. Please don’t read my SEO copy handbook and then put the same keyword phrase in every single available spot on your page that you can find. My report is supposed to help you think about a few places you may have missed because you weren’t thinking about being descriptive when you originally wrote the copy. You can definitely have too much of a good thing.
A first paragraph on a page that has, say, 4 sentences, should not have 10 instances of your keyword phrase. It will look and sound dumb. I have stressed this in our High Rankings Advisor newsletter as well as our SEO classes, but no matter how many times I say this, people don’t quite grasp the importance of working this way. If your copy reads poorly to a human, and does not come across as natural professional copywriting, the search engines won’t like it either—at least not for very long.

When you do SEO, you don’t follow a guidebook. Think like a search engineer and consider all the possible things they might have to combat both now and in the future. Always optimize for 3 or 4 or even up to 5 phrases per page, and spread them out throughout the entire page. Never, ever, ever think that it’s the first paragraph that matters and stuff ‘em all in there. It sounds dumb and is dumb. There should be an equal distribution throughout the entire page, and you should never use the phrases so much that you hear them constantly when you read it.

If you’ve done it right, an everyday user should not have any idea that a page has been SEO’d. A trained SEO should be able to spot what your keyword phrases are, but it shouldn’t be glaringly obvious.

Last, but not least, hire a professional copywriter to work on the important pages of your site. This is the best investment you can make for your site and your business. Even if you don’t want to hire an SEO, you absolutely MUST hire a professional copywriter. You need someone who really and truly understands target audiences and how to speak to them about the benefits of what you offer. You can easily teach someone like that the SEO writing part.

Hope this helps to give you some ideas on how you might get out of the magic-formula-SEO mode and start performing SEO in a more creative way.

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As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.

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