I introduced some simple keyword research tools in the previous SEO blog post; this time I want to discuss how to include those keywords on the page for maximum impact on search rankings and user experience.
The internet was less sophisticated in the mid to late ‘90s. During the Geocities era, it became a common practice to “optimize” pages using spammy blocks of unrelated keywords or sentences stuffed with synonyms and close match variations.
In the attempt to adhere to this outdated best practice, countless websites still publish nonsense like this:
C3PO, sometimes called Threepio, is a gold droid (robot) built to assist humans with customs and translation. Protocol droids like the talking robot C-3P0 can be different colors, but Threepio is the gold robot who helps Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies.
The paragraph above includes misspellings (C-3P0, C3PO), semantic variations (droid, robot), and long tail phrases (the gold robot who helps Luke Skywalker) in an attempt to capture search spiders’ attention—but reading it is a terrible, cringeworthy user experience.
Modern search algorithms are on guard against this practice and this technique is ineffective. Keyword stuffing can lead to penalties or removal from the index.
So what can you do with all those keywords?
- Edit article pages and clean up the spam! Include synonyms in the text of the article, but eliminate instances that seem forced or unnatural.
- Include unique, descriptive text on the main page that explains the wikia topic to newbies. Check out the Intro to SEO blog post for screenshots and an example.
- Administrators can update MediaWiki:Description to include relevant in search terms to the meta description for the main page. The keywords and phrases used in the description are no longer factored into search algorithms, but informative descriptions can drive click through rate. (Updated best practices can be found here.)
- Administrators should also check MediaWiki:Pagetitle and remove extra search terms that were added in the past in an effort to optimize. Best practices for this on-page element have changed quite a bit, so be sure to check the updated help page.
I love to chat about keywords and search engine algorithms, so feel free to ask questions and suggest topics for future blog posts in the comments or on my message wall.