Writers and SEOs share the belief that the first few lines are where most of the action takes place, where you get the biggest bang for your buck. For writers, it’s the headline and hook that earn readers or lose them. You could say the header and first paragraph are the equivalent for marketers, because this is where a lot of SEO value is gained. In a recent tongue-in-cheek Google Webmaster Help Channel video, Matt Cutts pointed out that the head is just one part of web content, and search crawlers are also looking at the body for SEO signals.
“A head might have metadescriptions, metatags, all that sort of stuff. If you want to put stuff in the head – that’s great. Make sure that it’s unique. Don’t just do duplicate content. But stuff in the body makes a really big difference as well,” Cutts advised.
“If you don’t have the text – the words that will really match on the page – then it’s going to be hard for us to return that page to users.” – Cutts
Descriptions and meta-keywords are perfectly fine for the heads of documents, but they also have places in the main body text. It’s a mistake to treat the head as the main course and the rest of the article as the garnish. Readers will (hopefully) consume the entire thing, and search crawlers are looking at all the words on the page, too.
“If you don’t have the text – the words that will really match on the page – then it’s going to be hard for us to return that page to users,” he added.
This particular insight may be new, but the sentiment isn’t. It feels like a common sense approach. If brands want search engines to show people your blog content, landing pages and infographics, they need to make them good – really good. We’re living in an era of content abundance where there is so much to ingest that people are overdosing on information and technology. Publishers can help the cause by only putting out content that’s intended for people to enjoy and search crawlers to peruse in full.