Content Placement and Keyword Density matter.
Content placement is an important part of on-page SEO. It’s good practice for both search engine optimization and reader usability to place your important keywords early in your content. This emphasizes to both your readers and the search engines that these words or phrases are important to the page.
The effectiveness of this technique has been debated quite a bit, and it’s not difficult to find SEO professionals sharing anecdotes of how they’ve done well without this or other on-page techniques. The problem with this, of course, is that it doesn’t mean that these SEO campaigns couldn’t have done even better had they included on-page factors such as this, or that they wouldn’t have been necessary had the keywords been more competitive.
Reasons for strong on-page SEO
The reason I am adamant that this is an effective technique is that I myself began to overlook these factors at my own (or rather, my employer’s) expense. While I can’t give away specifics, there are several keywords in which we became outranked by competitors, despite having far more inbound links and having relatively equal SEO on other factors, even keyword density. Using a technique I will describe below to move our content up on our page made the difference in several instances. In some cases, it was the difference between being 2nd and 1st, or something like 6th and 3rd.
Another reason I am adamant that having your content high on your page is important is because famed Google Engineer Matt Cutts himself makes this admission at the WordCamp 2007 conference in San Francisco, CA (about 1:02:20 into the lecture).
Furthermore, Google expends lots of text in their Google Webmaster Guidelines and Hidden text and links pages, explaining what not to do with your content. Clearly, content is still a huge factor with the Big G and, therefore, this is likely so (if not more so) with other major search engines.
CSS and SEO – Use CSS to help your on-page SEO
Sometimes using your target keywords early in your content is counterproductive. Readers may be turned off by your content if it’s a little too tweaked for the search engines. If you’re an e-commerce site, you may find a need to have a more graphic-based presence at the the top.
Fortunately, Soh Tanaka has an excellent CSS-based solution for modifying the order of your content, so that you can display your content in a different order. By doing this, you can display your descriptive content early in your page’s code, without sacrificing that highly optimized visual design you worked so hard for. You can learn this technique in his latest post: Markup Hierarchy – Advantages in SEO – by Soh Tanaka.