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"Don't Edit Your Search Engine Success"
by Heather Lloyd-Martin
Why Editing Your Home Page for Key phrases is Bad News

Like every small business owner, I firmly believe in finding the easiest way to do things. If it can save me some dearly needed time, well, I'm a happy camper. But sometimes, it doesn't pay to take the easy way out. And optimizing your visible home page copy for the search engines is one of those times.

If you read my article, "How to Write a Keyword-Rich Home Page the Search Engines Will Love!", y ou know that I specifically recommend rewriting your home page text around well-researched key phrases. However, the "quick fix" mentality is strong - and while optimizing Web sites with fellow Rank Write Moderator, Jill Whalen, there's one question we hear time and time again:

"I don't want to change the visible text on my home page. Can't you guys just edit the key phrases in there somewhere and put them in where they work OK?"

In short, the answer is no. If you want strong rankings and to successfully convert your prospects into buyers, it's crucial to do it right the first time.

Hearing "you've got to rewrite your text for the search engines" is hard for some business owners to stomach. After all, they've spent a lot of time, effort and money creating their Web copy. When we recommend a text rewrite, you can almost hear the collective groan throughout their marketing department. After all, they probably went through 15 meetings just to get the darn copy written and approved! They don't want to spend time rewriting the home page AGAIN.

But yet, in the same breath, they're complaining about how their search engine rankings are dropping off the map. And they figure that by adding a few key phrases somewhere within the copy, they'll snag lots of eyeballs to their site. But, will those eyeballs translate into sales if we just "edit" for key phrases? Probably not.

Remember, strong optimized copy satisfies both the search engines AND your prospects. If you randomly insert key phrases into your existing home page text, you run the risk of getting good rankings - but sabotaging your marketing flow. And that's a mistake you don't want to make with your home page.

But, for people who still believe that you can "edit" for key phrases (yes, I know you're out there!), here's two reasons why that strategy just won't work:

Limitations with existing text make "editing" for key phrases almost impossible. If you're one of those folks who believe you should have no more than 75 words on your home page - beware. Your home page will need at least 250 words for maximum search engine effectiveness. If you don't increase your word count with more value-added content (which means a rewrite) you'll never have enough room to intelligently work your key phrases into the copy. Period.

(Don't believe me? Think of your existing home page copy. Now, imagine trying to insert two to four different key phrases five times EACH somewhere within your text. Makes your copy sound kind of funny, doesn't it?)
You're taking a huge chance with your most important Web page. Sure, if you stick your prime key phrases in your home page copy enough times, the search engines will stand up and take notice. But, what happens when your prospects hit your site? Chances are, they'll take one look at your text block o' key phrases and completely miss the point of your carefully crafted copy. And then, they'll surf to a competing site whose benefit and keyword rich copy makes sense.
Don't force your prospects to wade through endless key phrase lists to grasp your benefits. Writing your home page around your key phrases is a guaranteed way you can drive traffic to your site AND keep them there once you do. Taking the easy way out and "editing" your home page for key phrases may save you time - but it will also cost you sales in the long run.

Heather Lloyd-Martin, President of SuccessWorks, is the leading expert on search engine optimization copywriting.

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