The other day, I was experiencing a severe case of writer’s block, so I posted my frustration on my Facebook page and asked for a few ideas from folks. My marketing guru and coach, Chris Makell, asked if keywords in a post/page title are “better” than keywords in the text of your article or page. This is a great question, and one that I’m sure many people would like to know the answer to, so here goes!
Search engines crawl your site looking for words and phrases that are repeated there, and then they “index” that page for those words and phrases. This is why the proper keywords and keyword density are so important to getting found organically by search engines. For example, I have a post on this blog about creating a custom Facebook landing page. The title of this post is “How to Build a Facebook Landing Page with iFrames” (this post has since been deleted as Facebook is no longer using iFrames for landing pages). I’ve used the WordPress plugin All in One SEO Pack, to optimize my page title, description and keywords for this article. A couple of days ago, while I was looking for something totally different, I happened to google the phrase “custom facebook landing page” and 2 of my blog posts (including the one I just mentioned), happen to come up on the first page of Google! This is what everyone should strive for. Because my page description had that exact phrase written into it, and I used that phrase within the post, the page had been indexed for this and was returned in a completely random search.
So, how do search engines read your page then?
The web crawlers, or spiders, as they are called, read the text on your page, just as you would read the page. They start at the top and work their way down the page, reading text only. Search engines cannot read text that is placed in images, nor can they crawl video or flash…..which is why sites built with Flash are highly discouraged these days.
Since the title comes first, that will be the first thing to be crawled, so make your keywords count here. Title tags should not be longer than 70 characters as most web browsers will only display that many.
Secondly, comes your meta description. This is a short paragraph describing your page or article, again using your main keywords. Descriptions should not be longer than about 160 characters.
Third are your meta keywords. Here you would use your secondary keywords…..keywords that are important, but don’t quite fit into the body of your text. Keywords should not be repeated more than about 4 times.
After these 3 items, the spiders go on to read the main text of your website, including text links (such as in your menus, if they’re not flash or image based), ALT image & title tags, etc.
So, to answer Chris’ question, neither the title nor the body text has more importance than the other, at least not in my opinion. If you’re going to optimize, don’t skimp. Both areas carry a great deal of weight when ranking websites, so it’s important to emphasize your keywords in both areas.
Want to see how your site looks to a search engine?
Visit http://www.seo-browser.com/, type in your URL and see what the search engines are seeing. If you don’t see much text there, neither do the search engines, which means that you’re not going to be indexed and ranked well.
For more information on getting your site found online, take a look at my other articles about SEO.