The old days of SEO are gone. Just not too long ago, standard SEO practices would place a site in the graces of the major search engines. Let's examine what these standard techniques are before I venture into the copywriting/ontological part of SEO.
-Clean code and use of a CSS. It is still imperative to write in clean code and avoid proprietary tags or server side extensions such as the ones created/required by certain web design programs. Use a cascading style sheet to reduce attribute clutter.
-Keyword density. The accepted parameters call for keyword presence on each page in order to rank well for the particular term. Too little density and the search engines will not rank the site well and too much will be viewed as spam.
-Unidirectional and reciprocal linking. The more sites linking to one and the better the site will score. Note: reciprocal links are being discounted by Google in particular because of rampant, free for all link exchange abuse. Make sure anchor text reflects the keywords being targeted when conducting a link campaign.
The standard above guidelines are what many SEOs are focusing on to help websites in the top rank arena.
While these are still the basics, we are seeing a a shift in the ranks where sites rank extremely well for a keyword without such term even being present on the page. How is this possible? The only possible explanation is the contextual text relationship or theme of a site.
Google seems to be at the forefront of this technology: the sites that are doing well even for terms that are not present in the text or anchor links are very rich in related content. Also, very important, the site relates to the particular key phrase. Let's try an example: when searching for "market timing", a site is in the top 3 in Google. The site has hundreds of pages indexed and deals with market research for stocks, stock buying and investment decision tools. A human being reading through the site found by searching for market timing will find the site extremely informative and pertinent to the search. Then, how is it possible that Google could rank it high if it is just blindly indexing the text to find the exact keyword? The answer is ontological text recognition. By reading the contextual relationship between words and paragraphs, Google is capable of "understanding" that the site, without mentioning a particular keyword, will be relevant when a user searches for it.
What does this mean for you? Simply put, a lot. Copywriting is king. Well written content, informative article writing in conjunction with standard SEO techniques are the new search optimization reality. It means more work but also the advantage of maintaining more solid ranks over time as no competitor site can just easily tweak some code to rank higher. We have been focusing heavily on this new aspect to find the best way to create user friendly and rich content that will be positively received by search engines and searchers alike.