THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF SEO – PART 2
In Part 1 of this series about the essentials of SEO we looked at some of the fundamentals of SEO and explained a few of the essential terms.
One of the things we looked at was keywords. We want to come back to this in a bit more detail in this article.
Do keywords still matter?
In the world of SEO, keywords have had rather a chequered career. In the early days of search engines, a practice called keyword stuffing developed. The idea was to include as many relevant keywords as possible repeatedly on your page.
At the time Google’s algorithm did allow this to have a positive impact on page rankings. But it led to badly written pages – with little real content – and therefore poor user experience.
This gradually led to a complete swing in the other direction, where the digital marketing community began to turn its proverbial back on keywords altogether, insisting that other factors were now more important. We covered this topic in our article SEO is Dead: Long Live SEO! And will come back to those other factors later in this article.
But keywords do still have a place. Particularly now with the wealth of analytical tools such as AdWords, they can be used more skillfully and effectively than ever. These tools can help you to identify the keywords based on search volume, relevance, and what your competitors are using.
The main purpose of keywords is to tell Google what your page is about, and to ensure that your page is identified as relevant when SERP listings are being compiled.
However your webpage is constructed, you can easily embed SEO keywords into it.
How to embed keywords into your site
Most websites these days are written using a CMS. The “Big Three” Content Management Systems are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Many people view WordPress as the best content management system available and the easiest CMS to use if you want professional results.
But how do you use SEO with a CMS such as WordPress? Well, there are SEO plugins available for the very best ratings, including Yoast SEO, SEMrush, Open Site Explorer, LinkPatrol, and SEOquake.
But even without a plug in there are things that you can do to add keywords to your CMS site. Some will have a Page Settings where you can add meta keyword. The most simple WordPress site will have some kind of Features panel where you can add keywords into the “tags” section.
Over and above this, you are also able to add keywords using html.
So let’s take a look at the best places to add keywords to your site.
The 8 best places to add keywords
- Page Title: The page title is also known as a meta title, title tag or title element. It is the most important place to put a keyword.
Somewhat confusingly, the page title is not displayed on the page itself but will appear in search engine results exactly as written. It lets people know what that page is about before they get to your site. So make sure that you include your business name and relevant information to attract them to your page.
Page titles should ideally be less than 60 characters in length as this will then enable them to display fully in Google search results. They can be separated into segments by a pipe. An example of a page title in html appears below:
- Url: The web address for the page is also a good place to add keywords without this being obvious.
- H1 Tag: The main header tag for the page. It is easy to confuse this with the page title but they are not the same. The H1 tag is what appears in the browser tab once the visitor is on your page. It confirms to the reader what the page is about.
- Body: This is the main content of the page. You need to mention the keyword at least once, but avoid the keyword stuffing we mentioned above. As you will read further on, Google rankings also take into account the quality of your content as well as the keywords, so focus on this and mention the keyword naturally. There is no need to aim for any particular “keyword density” (proportion of keywords to other text) as once used to be the case: focus on the quality of your content.
- Site navigation links: If you are able to use keywords in some of your links then do so, but avoid this if it does not flow naturally. Another Google ranking factor is User Experience, and if you sacrifice intuitive navigation to try and shoehorn in more keywords this will be counterproductive.
- Links in content: If you include links in your content to enable a user to navigate quickly to other pages of your site, you can use keywords as some or all of the text that they need to click.
- Images: There are many opportunities to use htm to add keywords to images and these are often missed. Moreover the keywords won’t actually show up on the page – unless there is a problem displaying the image – so image are an idea place to use keywords without detriment to user experience.
You can add keywords to the name of the image, the title tag for the image, and the “alt” tag for the image (this is the alternative message that comes up if the image will not display). So, if your keyword was yellow balloons you could use html as follows:
- Meta Description: This refers to the short description of your page that appears in search results. Whilst it does not count as part of their ranking algorithm, the keyword entered by the user in the search query will appear in bold in the SERP listing, so in that way the use of the keyword can still help to attract a user to your site.
The page title is the most important place to add your keyword, but also using it in several of the above places will help to make it even clearer to Google the keywords to rank that page for. If you use it in several places it is best to vary the order of the keyword: Google will recognise slight variations as being the same keyword, and will usually return similar search results for any combination.
Also be aware that there is also such a thing as an “over-optimisation penalty”. Google’s Panda algorithm will check for the quality of your website and this will affect its SERP rankings. So, if your website has lots of repeated keywords and not much quality content, this could be counter-productive in terms of rankings.
Content and links
Leading on from the above, no matter how good your keyword placement, you still need to have good quality content for your website to perform well in search results. It will also keep people on your website longer once they get there. So by all means tailor content around your keywords but it must have value of itself in order to boost both search rankings and user experience.
You should also aim to have good quality links in your site; especially links from other sites to yours. We covered the topic of link building in our article Link Building Techniques 2018. It is another important way that Google evaluates the quality of your site.
So to summarise, to give your website the best chance of success in SERPs there is still definitely a place for keywords, and if you use the information above then you will be well on the way to success. But this must be done in conjunction with good quality content and links on your site if you are to achieve the best possible results. You will then be doing everything you can to attract visitors to your site and then to give them such good UX that they will never want to leave!