Keywords will always be the crux of searchable web writing.
But too many sites neglect their closest allies—synonyms.
(Quick grammar lesson: Synonyms are words that mean the same thing. "Large," "huge" and "big" are synonyms.)
A good command of synonyms won’t just make your web writing sparkle.
Synonyms are particularly important in SEO.
Think of them as road signs for search engines.
Add Context to Your Content
Search engines—especially Google—use synonyms and other related terms to figure out what your page is about. (This is called latent semantic indexing, if you’re interested.)
Once a search engine has a keyword in its sights, it searches the rest of your copy for context.
For example, if your page’s title contains "Orange," you might be writing about fruit, or paint colours, or Dutch monarchs.
if search bots also find the terms "soccer," "Netherlands" and
"jersey," they’ll cleverly assume your page is selling shirts for fans
of Holland’s national soccer team.
Using synonyms effectively can make a search engine’s job easier—which can increase your ranking.
So use these tips to make synonyms work for you.
Don’t Use the Same Keywords Repeatedly
This is one of those cases where what’s good for the search engine is good for the reader.
If you’re too repetitive with your keywords, search engines and readers will conclude that your site is shallow and probably useless.
But latent semantic indexing means that your page doesn’t need to be stuffed with keywords to get a decent ranking. So toss in some synonyms.
Your readers will appreciate it.
Use Rich, Specific Vocabulary
If you’re writing about weightlifting, you’ll likely use phrases like "get in shape" or "build muscle."
That’s not bad, but your page should also use words like "anabolism," "quadriceps" and "bent-over barbell row."
A rich vocabulary and specific terms show readers and search engines that your site is detailed, credible and useful.
Fill Your Pages (But Not Too Full)
In most cases, between 250 and 350 words per page is
optimal—enough data to keep search bots happy without overwhelming your
Because if your content is too thin, you’ll miss opportunities to place keywords in a meaningful context.
But if your content is too dense, most readers won’t penetrate past the first few paragraphs.
Try to keep it under 500 words. Web readers aren’t looking for a novel.
(Or a book. Or a piece of fiction. Or a paperback…)
Want more advice on writing for readers and search engines? Learn how to write compelling copy with our free 25-page e-book, Breakthrough Web Writing.