You have ideas for fresh website content, with a variety of goals in mind: establishing credibility, increasing visibility, and improving lead generation. In order for those goals to be attained, you need to learn how to rank for top keywords and land higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) so that your target market can find you. Although there’s no guarantee when it comes to ranking in search, there are many things that can help improve your chances.
Magical Keywords and Where to Place Them
Google used to be a keyword factory, of sorts–particularly when there were fewer published websites. If you used a top keyword enough (think keyword stuffing), you could be closer to the top of the search rankings. But now, top keywords have to be used with a light hand, carefully and strategically folded into the content, with the reader in mind. If it’s not high-quality or not helpful for the reader, it won’t be good for your SEO. Answer the question that the visitor is asking through their search. Be the solution to a problem. Become the destination for a specific purpose. This means making your content helpful to readers, and clear to search crawlers. If you’re curious if your website is on the path to success, take the time to conduct an SEO audit.
If you need to take a step back, do a little keyword research with this method from Hubspot. Here’s a quick refresh:
- Make the keyword unique to a specific page of your website
- Choose a likely-searched phrase
- Select a phrase you can build content around
- Use tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner and SEMrush to get feedback on whether the keyword you chose will work best for you.
To be more likely to improve rankings, keywords can be placed in the URL, page title, headings, content, link anchor text, meta title and description, image tags, and within formatted words.
Read on for the specifics.
The Key to Headings (H1 and H2)
Giving your reader an idea of the website content before they read it is helpful. They know what to expect and will likely continue reading. Your H1, or page title, will come up as your heading or title on the page, which is useful for both site visitors and for search engines to identify what your page is about. Use H1 only once in your code) and be sure to include your primary keyword or phrase. Another good rule of thumb is to keep the H1 between 20 and 70 characters; 30-40 words is the ideal target.
H2 tags (sub-topics) are secondary but will still be crawled by search engines. Include relevant words to help indicate what the reader will be learning. H3s, which nest under H2 tags, are helpful but not always necessary on your page.
Have you ever seen a URL that was messy and impossible to read? Eliminate any hint of confusion over what the webpage will tell them: use a phrase with dashes and real words. If you are looking for SEO best practices for structuring your URLs, MOZ.com has a great resource that is also a good example of a well-written URL: https://moz.com/blog/15-seo-best-practices-for-structuring-urls This URL is readable and contain target keywords. It also becomes helpful link text in the absence of any anchor link text. When it’s listed as part of the SERP snippet text, it makes users more likely to click on it.
Content is King
The whole reason visitors are on your page is for your content. Make your words easy to read, applicable to the search terms and keywords you’ve set up, and use your chosen words or phrase a few times (not a lot) in the text. Using terms related to your keywords is also helpful when you’re trying to improve your SERP rankings without using the exact words over and over, which can diminish your SEO. If the keyword you chose is tough to build content around, consider other options. There is good reason, content is king!
Meta: Describe it to Me
Your meta title (or title tag) is one of the most significant contributors to improving your SEO. Create a meaningful sentence or phrase that’s approximately 60 characters long, with the most important keyword near the beginning. Make it relevant to your ideal search query, and keep it free of errors or fluff words (such as “Home” or “Welcome”). Need examples? Give SEObility’s Meta SERP Snippet Generator a try.
A meta description simply describes what your page is about and will show up the SERPs just under your title. If your meta description is helpful to whoever is searching online and includes your top keywords and any related search terms, they’ll click on it. Improving your CTR will signal to Google that your site is helpful, which can help your SEO ranking. Google may shorten (truncate) your meta description, so aim for 160 words, which is right around the limit. Pro tip: Using the vertical bar “|” is recommended to split information, since Google measures in pixels rather than characters.
Need more reasons to improve your metas? Google chooses whether or not to use them in your organic listing. If they don’t use your metas or none are present, Google will pull content directly from your page. A well-written meta title that meets character limits is more likely to be shown giving you more control than if Google were to pull your H1 or copy from within your page to show in the SERP instead.
Get Obvious with Your Link Text
Avoid using “click here” or “read more” for your link anchor text, and instead use text that will tell readers what they’re about to click on. Again, helpfulness for readers is key. Keyword placement within internal links for SEO is a great place to start, but switch up the wording and keep the links relevant–think quality over quantity. If it’s an internal link that directs to another page on your site, this will indicate page value to Google.
Alt image text is helpful for website visitors (particularly those with accessibility needs and for ADA compliance) and search engine crawlers to determine what the image depicts. This is a great opportunity to use keywords to your benefit; just keep the description under 125 characters and do your best to verbally portray the image. Be specific and use “brown dog” rather than “dog”. This is still not a place to keyword stuff even though it’s within the code and not necessarily visible on the site. Just put in relevant info, descriptive of the image.
Even if you outfit your site perfectly with keywords, it’s only one factor in the long list of algorithm rules for search engines. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably one step ahead of your competitors–nice work. The bottom line? Create content that is targeted, easy-to-read, and unique.
Prefer not to DIY your SEO? Contact Solid Digital.