In our previous post we explained how to create and modify a website to be as search engine friendly as possible. We discussed how non-HTML text is more difficult for a search engine to understand, how to best create crawlable link structures and how a search engine perceives your website. In this installment we continue the adventure by learning how to own and operate a search friendly website, starting with keywords and listing best ways to use them.
The Magic of Keywords
Keywords are a fundamental part in the search engines process. Basically, the entire science of information retrieval for web-based engines (e.g. Google) is based on keywords. As the engines crawl and index the contents of websites around the world, they are being stored in keyword-based indices.
Rather than having billions of of websites all in one database search engines have millions of smaller databases, each centered around one particular keyword term or phrase. This system is what has made it possible for engines to retrieve the data needed in mere seconds.
The No-no’s of Keyword Abuse
From the very beginning of online search, people have abused the use of keywords in the failed attempt to manipulate the engines. What this involves is “stuffing” keywords into text, the URL, meta tags and links. This tactic almost always does more harm to your site than good.
The optimal thing you can do is to use keywords naturally and strategically. Take the following as an example: If your page targets the keyword “Eiffel Tower”, the ideal practice would be to include content about the tower itself, the history of the building or even recommending Paris hotels. It is not advisable to simply scatter the words “Eiffel Tower” onto the page with irrelevant content, such as irrelevant topics such as car wash services etc. This will only make your efforts to rank the phrase “Eiffel Tower”, long and pointless. That being said, keyword usage and targeting are still a major part of the search engines’ ranking algorithms.
Keywords best practices
When working with your own site, here is a recommended process for keyword usage:
- Title Tags – Use the keyword in the title tag at least once, and try to keep the keyword as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible.
- Place the keyword at least once, prominently near the top of the page.
- Body Text – Add the keyword and its variations at least 2 – 3 times in the body of the page. You may add it a few more times if the content is lengthy.
- Alt text – Place the keyword at least once in the ALT attribute text of the image.This will help with both text and image search results.
- URL – Insert it into the URL only once.
- Meta Tags – Place the keyword at least once in the meta tag description. Keep in mind that the meta description tag does NOT have any effect on a search engine results. This is purely used for searchers to have a better idea as to what the webpage is about. It establishes credibility to the link.
A Closer look at Title Tags
The title tag is meant to be an accurate, concise description of a page’s content. These are crucial to both user experience and Search Engine Optimization. Since title tags are such an important part of SEO, the following recommendations are a critical part of optimizing title tags for search engines.
- Keep length in mind – Only 65-75 characters of a title tag are displayed in search results. This limit is also used for social media sites, so adhering to this length is wise. However, if you have multiple keywords or a lengthy keyphrase, it is advisable to have a longer title tag.
- Keep Important Keywords in the Front – The closer you place your keywords in the front of a title tag, the more helpful they’ll be for ranking.
- Leverage Branding – It is recommended to finish a title tag with a brand name mention – this will increase brand awareness aid in a higher clickthrough rate from people who trust the brand.
- Readability and emotional impact – It is not only important to think about optimization and keyword usage, but also the entire user experience. A title tag is a new visitor’s first interaction with your brand and should convey the most positive impression possible.
Next we will be taking a closer look at meta tags and gain a deeper understanding of URL structures. Stay tuned