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Entireweb Newsletter   •   July 13, 2006   •   ISSUE #248
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SEO: Optimisation or Repetition?

I was watching the news on TV the other day and I couldn't help but notice the amount of times the newsreaders and reporters repeated the same things over and over again.

First of all there was the announcement of the main headline accompanied by dramatic music: "Today's main headline: a dramatic event happened today". This was followed by one of the newsreaders telling us again that 'a dramatic event happened today' and then his fellow newsreader telling us that they would be bringing us all the reaction from five different continents to the 'dramatic event that happened today' as well as trying to gauge the 'mood on the street' where the 'actual' dramatic event 'actually' took place.

Then one of the reporters joined in by saying things like: "Yes, that's right, it was here, just behind me, where this dramatic event happened today…" before switching to another reporter who told us that she didn't actually witness the dramatic event that happened just behind where her colleague was standing, but she had been talking to witnesses who did see the dramatic event as it happened.

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Five minutes into the programme I was still none the wiser and I was beginning to wonder why I was being treated like a goldfish.

It occurred to me that perhaps the makers of news programmes were actually retired SEO experts who had been in the job for too long. Let me explain.

When I set up my first website I said what I had to say in 50 words. I had a service to sell, I told people how much it was and how they could get in touch with me if they were interested. What else was there to say? But I soon realised from studying SEO that search engines much prefer you to use 250 words even if you can adequately explain what you want to say in 50.

If Content really is King as the search engines will have us believe then the Queen must be struggling to get a word in edgewise.

It's all very well saying that a website should be informative and content-rich but there is a tendency for human beings to talk more and say less. The news I heard on the radio this morning told me more in two minutes than the TV news did in fifteen: purely and simply because it got straight to the point and told me the facts without any waffle.

A website that takes that approach however, is likely to be ranked by the search engine machines (or the 'agents' as I sometimes prefer to call them) as uninformative and content-poor.

People don't have time to wade through page after page of someone babbling on about this, that and the other: they just want to know what is on offer, how much it costs and how they can get their hands on it. Ok, I'm simplifying things a little but you get the picture.

There are many websites on the World Wide Web that have lots of text and are also very informative. Sometimes you need to go into great detail to explain something thoroughly. I accept that. But often it is not necessary and what we have to say can be said in just a few words.

A website that uses only a few words to get it's point across will struggle to gain a good search engine ranking, purely and simply because robots are unable to evaluate the quality and relevance of what is being said in the same way a human can.

Turning a site like this into one that has a good search engine ranking, but without sacrificing any of the aesthetic quality of the site, has become an art form in itself.

Unfortunately many people who don't have much to say and seek that elusive top ten ranking in Google end up repeating themselves endlessly whilst being under the impression that they are in fact increasing the keyword density of their site.

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By increasing the amount of times their keywords are repeated, have they really optimised their site? Maybe they have in one sense, but how much has been sacrificed in the process?

If a website reads like a script from the TV News you know that it has more repetition and less optimisation. I know we call it 'search engine optimisation' because we are optimising for the benefit of the search engines, but ultimately it is human beings who use search engines and human beings who will visit your site.

Your site may well be number one in Google but if it is not optimised for human experience then your success will prove to be rather hollow.

SEO: optimisation or repetition? There is a difference.

About the Author: Rob Butler is a web designer in Wiltshire (UK) who specialises in securing top ten search engine rankings for small to medium size companies.

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