Add search terms to page titles, more
1. Page title
This is the most important place to put your keywords, says Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing. When you write your page title:
- Accurately describe what’s on the page. Avoid vague, misleading — or, worse, missing — page titles.
- Reinforce your theme to Google by making your headline the same as your page title.
- Make each page’s title unique.
- Keep it short — 67 characters or less (40 or less for mobile). Longer, and Google will truncate the title on the search engine results page.
- Write for people as well as Google. Your page title will show up in search engine results and as bookmarks. Make sure your potential visitors, as well as the search engines, can decipher it.
Your metatags get lots of Google juice. Search engines often use the headline and description metatags as the snippet on search engine results pages. So adding search terms to your HTML code can improve your search engine ranking and your chances of getting clicked.
Here’s where to put SEO keywords in HTML:
Description tag. Briefly explain what the page is about.
- Make it different for each page.
- Make it a real sentence, not just a list of keywords. This will show up in Google’s results pages, so optimize it for real readers as well as for search engines.
- Keep it to 250 characters or less.
Keyword tag. Shel Holtz, ABC, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology, recommends putting your keywords into your keyword tag, like this:
- List your keywords and phrases with commas between them, in descending order of importance.
- Don’t repeat words too often, or search engines might consider it an effort to spam the engine.
- Reinforce the keywords that appear elsewhere on the page. If it’s not on the page, don’t put it here.
Odden’s not a fan: “Keywords make it easy for your competitors to tell what you’re optimizing for. Nothing else.”
Analyze your tags. Want feedback on your metatags? These two free tools can help:
- Meta Tag Analyzer: Enter your URL into this free service offered by SEO Centro. You’ll find out whether your tags are too long, too short, irrelevant or even missing altogether.
- Google’s webmaster tools page: Get suggestions for improving your meta description and title tags.
And don’t forget to optimize your:
- Image alt tags. Describe the image for vision-impaired visitors and let search engines know that the image is relevant to the topic, too.
- Use keywords, not an unintelligible list of letters and numbers, for the URL. Don’t overuse keywords, and keep it brief.
3. Above the fold
To make the most of your limited keywords and phrases, place them “above the fold” — in your headline, deck and first paragraph. (“Above the fold” refers to newspapers putting the most important news and images in the upper half of a newspaper.)
Search engines weigh the “above-the-fold” content of your release as heavily as they do your descriptive website metatag. They may also display this information in search results.
“Because search engines [place] such a disproportionate amount of importance on the content above the fold, it is crucial to include your most compelling material in this section,” counsel the pros at Business Wire.
To make the most of this San Francisco real estate, optimize your:
A. Headline. Your headline gets a header (<h1>) tag on the portal, which means it can deliver huge SEO benefits. Make it clear, concise, engaging and about 70 characters long.
“Think upward and to the left” for keyword placement.
— Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing
Put your primary keywords at the front of the headline: “Think upward and to the left,” says Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing.
These days, Google focuses more on meaning than specific keywords. That means you should too. Aim for a headline that grabs attention and that introduces the theme and relevance of your story.
Google also rewards a better user experience over keywords. So if you write a headline that improves viewer interest and open rates, you’ll be earning SEO points as well.
B. Deck, or one-sentence summary under the headline. Reinforce the theme and relevance of your story in about 70 characters.
C. Lead. The lead will show up, along with the head and deck, on the search engine results page.
D. Subheads. Put your secondary keywords in the first subhead.
E. Links. “Links electrify content in search,” Odden says. Write links that are useful to the reader and that include your keywords where appropriate. Yes: PR writing workshop that teaches SEO for releases. No: Click here.
Three more tips for where to put SEO keywords:
1. Don’t over-optimize. Rule No. 1 to optimizing your webpage, post or other online piece? Stop stuffing keywords.
You can hurt your ranking in search results — and render your page unreadable — by cramming your page with keywords and phrases.
“When the keyword is mentioned the first time, the algorithm will take notice,” writes Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. “The second time, it is looking for relevancy; the third time, it may diminish your results.”
- Choose one or two keywords or phrases for each webpage. More, and you’ll dilute the effectiveness of your keywords.
- Use each keyword or phrase one or two times.
- Add specific keywords and phrases that accurately reflect your content and what readers are searching for.
- Place your keywords within the first 25 words and last 25 words of your webpage, Holtz advises.
“Read it aloud,” Odden recommends. If your page sounds good and includes your keywords, go with it.
3. Don’t forget the reader. Remember, the ultimate goal of search engine optimization isn’t to rank high in Google searches. The ultimate goal of SEO is to get people to visit, read and act on the information on your website.
“A good rule of thumb for optimizing webpages,” Odden says, “is to optimize for the reader first and the search engines second.