Pre-Work: Setting the SEO Foundation
There are many ways to optimize for search – from performing regular audits and fixes for technical issues to building and incorporating a keyword strategy for consistent new posts on your website. These cannot be skipped nor be discounted. They allow you to build a foundation that search engines look for to even consider showing your domain in the search results.
What I’m about to share is no secret. In fact, these changes are among the most common best practices for SEO! And yet, they are often overlooked or simply fall off the to-do list of busy marketing teams focusing on all things digital to drive traffic to their website and generate leads.
3 Steps for Improving SEO Rankings
These quick updates can (and should) be done for every important page of your website that is or has the potential to rank in the SERP.
- Use of target keyword in page copy
- (bonus!) contextual linking
1. Update your H1
Your H1 is the title at the top of each page. Its primary purpose is to inform the user what the page is about and encourage them to scroll on, but it also serves as an indication to crawlers of the main topic of that page. Your primary keyword phrase should always be in your H1. (And it should not overlap with other pages’ H1s which can lead to confusing the search engines and cannibalization of your traffic).
Once you’ve decided on your H1, I only ask you to follow these two rules. First, it must be marked as an H1. That is, it should have <H1> before it and </H1> after. Second, because this is your main topic, you should only have one H1. If you have more than one keyword phrase with an H1 mark-up, the search engines will not consider both. Instead, any sub-topics should be marked with an H2 – you can have as many of these as makes sense for your content and these are also helpful for the crawlers to understand your content.
2. Update your Meta Title and Description
You may have noticed that when you build a new page metas can be automatically created or that Google will happily pull content from your web page and insert that into your organic listing. However, if you don’t insert your target keyword phrase into your metas, you are missing a big opportunity. This is another primary place the crawlers look to identify the main topic of your page and having your target keyword present can give a big boost to your ranking.
Ensure your primary keyword is in your meta title. If possible (ie – without sounding spammy), also include it in your meta description. Including it at the beginning of your meta is even better than in the middle or at the end.
3. Insert your target keyword into the page copy
Using your primary keyword within the content of your page is important, but the key is to add it about 3 to 4 times. This might sound a bit light, but keep in mind that keyword stuffing typically has a negative impact and that the most important part of your content is the readability and value for your users, so wherever you choose to place those keywords – ensure they make sense there.
4. (bonus!) Add a contextual link (or two)
Got through the first three steps and still have a few minutes to spare? Go to a related page on your website and find a place where your keyword already exists within that content or add it (only in a place that makes sense to your readers) linking it back to your newly updated page. It’s vital that you use your exact keyword phrase so that crawlers connect that keyword to your page.
When we’ve performed these steps for priority keywords, both internally and for our clients, we have seen improvements in the SERP in as little as two weeks or as long as several months. Why the variation? You are not just vying to impress Google, you’re also competing for its attention among all of the other websites using that keyword. In addition, the search volume and competitiveness for the keyword also make a difference.
Now that you know how, what and why, get out there and try your hand at it for a few pages as time allows. There’s no reason to wait until you have hours to do multiple pages at once – the important thing is to get started and do more than nothing at all.Need more help with SEO or have a question you’d like answered in our next newsletter? Reach out.