Guide to Content Optimization for SEOby Anvil on February 21, 2018Keywords
You may have heard the phrase “Content is King” when it comes to SEO. While content is certainly not the only aspect that you need to focus on when optimizing your site, but as content makes up your website, it is a vital element. In this article we will be focusing on content optimization for SEO through keyword optimization. These tips will help ensure the most visibility for your content and will help improve your organic rank for keywords you are using in your optimizations.
Before diving into the keyword optimization of your content, we will briefly discus content quality. You can keyword optimize poor quality content all you want, but in the end, it won’t make as big an impact as if you started with high quality content that provides value to your visitors. You need to provide a reason for people to spend time on your site reading your content. The content needs to provide value and substance that is unique and useful.
Additionally, when it comes to content quality, Google’s ranking algorithms emphasize content quality as a ranking factor. Google’s quality guidelines state:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Google’s content quality guidelines clearly explain that when Google is indexing your site, they are looking for high quality, unique content. Google also wants to ensure that your content is not geared for search engines, but rather for your users. Google will be looking at your content for keyword stuffing and relevance to ensure that you are not loading your site with keywords relevant or irrelevant with the goal to improve keyword rankings. Google will be looking at the context of your content to ensure that the keywords you are utilizing in your content are relevant to the message of your content.
In a recent blog post we discussed Planning Your Content Generation to Maximize Reach and User Experience. This blog post will help you identify types of content you should be creating as well as how to create quality content that will help not only your organic ranking and visibility, but also provide positive user experiences.
Once you have high quality content, you will now want to optimize this content to get the most visibility. This means optimizing your content with relevant keywords that users are searching for when looking for the type of content and information that you are providing on your website.
To determine the keywords that users are searching for you will need to conduct keyword research to identify search terms and trends. You will want to identify terms that have search volume behind them, but that are also relevant to the content. Relevance is more important than search volume, however, if you are looking to drive traffic, you will need to use phrases that people are looking for. Keyword research, selection and mapping is a service that Anvil provides to our clients, but for those who have not worked with us on Keyword Research or SEO below are the steps Anvil and our clients follow when selecting keywords for each page you are optimizing:
- Choose 3-5 keywords from the keyword research to incorporate into the content in a natural way.
- Select 1 keyword as the primary keyword for the page. This will be your focus keyword, the others will be supplemental, secondary keywords to diversify your organic reach possibilities.
- Your primary keyword should be a term that has existing search volume (as determined in your keyword research), but is also relevant to the content.
Remember: Relevancy trumps search volume. Secondary keywords have more flexibility when it comes to search volume, and you can utilize a few higher search volume terms as well as terms with lower search volume that you want to appear for should there be searches for the term.
Determining your Primary Keyword
Your primary keyword should always be the one that is the most precisely relevant to that page’s content, i.e. the one that captures the most dimensions of the idea. In most cases, this will not be the keyword that shows the highest search volume in the lot.
Determining Your Supporting Keywords
Supporting keywords should expand the range of queries to which the page could be considered relevant, without sacrificing its focus.
Generally speaking, there are two approaches, depending on how narrow the focus of the page is.
- If the page covers a breadth of topics —as is usually the case for a homepage or a page that describes a whole range of products or services —then the primary keyword is likely something speaking to that full breadth, which means the supporting keywords can be more narrowly focused and speak to more granular sub-topics.
- If the page has a narrow focus, as is the case for a page that describes one single product or service, then the primary keyword was probably something fittingly narrow and long-tail. In this instance, you can invert the above paradigm and choose broader head terms for your supporting keywords, to cast a wider net.
Once you have selected the keywords you will be incorporating into your content, you will then need to determine where within your content you will be using these terms. There are 7 aspects of your content that Anvil recommends incorporating your target keywords into, we will identify and explain these aspects below.
Keywords should be integrated into the following 7 elements of your page
1. Page Title
The page title appears at the top of your browser tab, and, more importantly, on search results pages. The page title will serve as a call-to-action for users inspiring them to click through (any keywords that the user queries that end up appearing in the page title of a search result will show there in bold).
Best practices are:
- Maximum page titles length should be between 60-70 characters. (Google has recently increased the length of page titles it will show)
- Page titles should include the page’s primary keyword which is descriptive of the page content, secondary keywords if space allows.
- Page titles should include the brand identifier.
You can add a title tag in the <head> section in your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:
Page Titles Should follow this structure:
Descriptive Keyword Rich Title | Brand/Company Name
Accordingly, the best use of these headings for SEO is as follows:
- Tag the title of the piece as an <h1> heading and place your primary keyword in it (if at all possible).
- Integrate the remaining keywords on your page into <h2>-and-below headings as you see fit. As with the copy, don’t force anything.
- Each page should have only ONE <h1> as this indicates the overall theme of the page.
- Multiple subheadings can be used as relevant.
3. Body Text
Best practices are:
- Write 300 words or more of copy per page (Anvil recommends a minimum of 600 words)
- Use the primary keyword two to three times in the opening paragraph
- Earlier is better because search engines read top-to-bottom and left-to-right, just like people.
- Err on the side of less if you would have to compromise the text’s natural tone to reach that density.
The most important criterion of all is that your deployment of the keyword be natural, and never sound forced. Supporting keywords can be used more freely. Try to use a keyword (primary or secondary) at least once in each paragraph if possible.
The URL itself is the very first page element that a crawler sees, and as such is another very useful location for a primary keyword. Use the primary keyword here if you can, and be sure that you separate all words in a URL using hyphens.
For search engines, the image’s title, filename, surrounding text, and alt attribute all matter from a ranking perspective.
- Image file names should use primary keywords if possible and be descriptive of the image.
- All words in image file names should be separated using hyphens.
- Image alt text should be narrative, like a sentence, and should be descriptive of the image and page content and should incorporate primary keywords where possible.
- If secondary keywords can be incorporated into image alt tags in a naturally flowing way, this is allowed.
6. External and Internal Links
A good page should be accessible through no more than four clicks from any other page on a site (three for smaller sites), and it should, likewise, provide useful links to relevant information on any topics that are discussed.
- Any links included in the content of the page should have descriptive and keyword rich anchor text.
- If you are linking to one of your own pages in the content, the anchor text should include the primary keyword for the linked page.
- For external pages, it is best to try to incorporate the primary keyword for the current page, if applicable to the linked site.
7. Meta Description
The meta description only appears on search results pages, as the short snippet right below the page title and URL.
Words in a meta description that match words in a search query will also show in bold, so the meta description, like a page title, is most valuable as a call-to-action.
- These should be written as fully composed statements (a complete sentence or two).
- Limit themselves to a maximum of 165 characters.
- Should also include the page’s primary keyword.
- If possible to make the description flow naturally, secondary keywords can also be incorporated into the meta description.
By following these tips you should see improved content visibility through organic search, driving more traffic from relevant users who are searching for your offerings. For additional help with content optimization for SEO or organic search keyword research, please contact Anvil today!