I was recently struck by fact that top-ranking web pages on Google are consistently much better written than vast majority of what one reads on web. Yet traditional SEO wisdom has little to say about good writing. Does Google, world's wealthiest media company, really rank web pages based primarily on arcane technical criteria such as keyword density, link text, or even PageRank?
Most Common Website Content Success Factors
I took a close look at Google's top five pages for five most searched-on keywords, as identified by WordTracker on June 27, 2005. Here's what I found.
The web pages that contained written content (a small but significant portion were image galleries) all shared following features:
* Updating: frequent updating of content, at least once every few weeks, and more often, once a week or more. * Spelling and grammar: few or no errors. No page had more than three misspelled words or four grammatical errors. Note: spelling and grammar errors were identified by using Microsoft Word's check feature, and then ruling out words marked as misspellings that are either proper names or new words that are simply not in dictionary. Google almost certainly has better access to new words than dictionary, with its database of billions of web pages. Supposed grammatical errors that did not in fact violate style rules were also ignored. Google would certainly be less conservative than a grammar checker in evaluating popular stylistic devices such as sentence fragments. * Paragraphs: primarily brief (1-4 sentences). Few or no long blocks of text. * Lists: both bulleted and numbered, form a large part of text. * Sentence length: mostly brief (10 words or fewer). Medium-length and long sentences are sprinkled throughout text rather than clumped together. * Contextual relevance: text contains numerous terms related to keyword, as well as stem variations of keyword. The page may contain keyword itself few times or not at all.
SEO "Do's" and "Don'ts" that Don't Really Matter
A hard look at results slaughters a number of SEO bugbears and sacred cows.