Introduction to Emphasis

Matt Cutts recommends targeting a niche...

There's a lot of websites out there, so how do you make yours stand out? Be efficient, by targeting a niche, and emphasising your main keywords. There are two ways to do this:

  • Off-page SEO (link-building)
  • On-page SEO (wording & markup coding)

Off-page emphasis

An "inward-bound link" (an "inlink") is like a vote. The more sites there are that link in to your site, the more votes you have for your site to rank highly. You then have a budget of "inlink juice" to work with, also known as "PageRank" (see Google's Technology Overview), which can be cleverly directed to emphasise your most important content (see Matt Cutts, one of Google's main men, talking about PageRank sculpting).

Off-page web marketing techniques, which involve pointing links from other sites towards yours (and labeling those links with your keywords), require resources which you may not have (to manipulate other people's sites). So you may want to pay more attention to on-page SEO factors.

On-page emphasis

When search engines determine the theme of your site, and which search terms are most relevant to your pages; they pay special attention to certain places in and around your site.

You may not have the resources to shine light throughout your site, so put your main keywords under the spotlights as described on this page.

On-page SEO techniques involve emphasising your main keywords. Some places on your site carry special weight for SEO, so take special care to put your keywords here.

Putting your keywords in the right places on your own site, is something which can be done by anyone, irrespective of resources. So long as you can word and program your site properly, in order to emphasise your niche appropriately, you can make it stand out to the most relevant of web searchers. You don't even need a single inlink to start getting traffic from Google these days.

As off-page SEO (linkbuilding) is evermore exploited by the online monopolies; on-page optimisation is only going to get more and more useful, as a tool for the underdog to get his voice heard. As search engines get smarter, they will reward onpage SEO more and offpage SEO less.

On-page emphasis of keywords & search terms is what this page will address.

Keyword Density

Pages should flow in normal sentences, with a natural density of keywords. Avoid stuffing your content with too many keywords, and avoid talking about stuff that isn't relevant.

It's worth being roughly aware of how often you mention your keywords when copywriting. Over-stuffing your pages with keywords is an unethical, "black-hat" SEO technique. Keyword Stuffing can easily disturb search engine results, by sending searchers to unnaturally-worded (and therefore quite irritating) pages. Being involved with Keyword Stuffing can easily get your site penalised from ever ranking well in search engine results pages (SERPs).

See also: Google Webmaster Help on Keyword Stuffing.

Web Address

Optimising the address (URL) of each of your webpages can make a big difference for SEO. And it can be very easy to do, so long as you're not being held back by an unfriendly Content Management System (CMS).

As an excellent example, the URL of this page (seoexample.co.uk/relevance) is short & user-friendly, but still contains four keywords (SEO, Example, UK and Relevance).

Domain Name

The domain name (for example seoexample.co.uk) is the part of the URL where keywords carry the most weight. This is because:

  • A site usually revolves around the theme of the keywords used in the domain name. Whereas keywords in the rest of the URL (such as those for directories and filenames) are not so likely to be totally relevant to the entire website.

  • The homepage is typically the oldest page on a site; and age is a huge factor in SEO. Read about age-based authority.

  • A domain name is typically the full URL of a homepage; and a website's homepage typically has greater ranking potential than its internal pages; because more people are likely to link to the homepage than any specific internal page, so the homepage collects most PageRank (which is like a sum of inlinks, acting like votes for high rankings).

Page Title

Of all the special places to put your keywords, the Page Title (HTML <title> tag) is most important. Not just for SEO, but for web accessibility in general; and SEO is mostly about making your content accessible to search engine robots, anyway. See also, <title>: the most important element of a quality Web page, by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Our page title is "Emphasis « SEO Examples", which contains our main three keywords. Two of these represent our site-wide theme (SEO Examples), and the other keyword represents our page-specific theme (Emphasis).

Top-Level Heading

Our Top-Level Heading (HTML <h1> tag) says "Emphasis", which emphasises that this page is all about Emphasis with regards to SEO. Second-Level Headings (HTML <h2> tags), for example the ones used on this page (Introduction, Introduction, Introduction, Introduction, Introduction, Web Address...etc) are also useful for emphasising keywords, but they don't carry as much weight as H1 (top-level) headings.

Check out the following W3C Quality Assurance Tips for Webmasters.

Anchor Text of Inward-Bound Links

The clickable link text on our homepage, which links to this page, says "Relevance", which is what this page is about.

Link Scheming

It's ok to create linkbait (usefulness within your site, to encourage others to link to yours). But try not to buy, sell, or otherwise trade links; because link schemes are common trademarks of unethical (black-hat) SEO, and as such, can often be detected by search engines, and relevant sites can get banned from appearing in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Hidden Links

Some people even use hidden links to trick search engines without being caught out & reported by humans; but search engine robots find it especially easy to detect the something that is coded to be hidden from humans, and they then have greater grounds to ban or penalise the offenders (spammers).

Notes to self...

  • Add a section for EM/STRONG (and B, I, U & font sizes); covering scale from most semantically sure (strong/em) to least reliable for SEO (CSS-coded emphasis).

  • Add a section for size of images as a bearing on weight of image alt tags; to mention logic as a basis for futureproof SEO, considering how search engines are always changing for logical improvement.