Whenever you create content for your website (like a pillar web page or a blog post), you must consider search engine optimization. Creating content that focuses on a single topic, essentially a keyword phrase, or simply “keyword” for short, helps you get found on search engines like Google.
When we help our clients learn to create content for their websites, we encourage them that, for every page of content, there should only be one topic or target keyword phrase for that page. So if you have 10 topics or phrases you want to be found for, you should have at least 10 pages of content.
When you create the content, you have at least 16 places you can put your keyword phrase. The more of these that you match, the more you’re telling Google, “This page is all about the topic: ‘keyword phrase'”.
The next time someone searches for that phrase or topic, your web page may surface near the top of the search results.
Here are 16 places you can put your keyword phrase to help your SEO efforts.
Page Title (or Title Tag)
The page title is the most influential place to have your keyword phrase. Google pays a great deal of attention to the page title, and if your keyword phrase is there, that’s going to positively affect your web page the most.
I find it amazing that so many business websites waste a few precious pixels using the word “Home” in their title tag in the modern era. This was common (get this) in the 1990s. Unless you’re a home builder, it’s a waste of SEO space!
It’s important to make sure your phrase is at the beginning of the title, and not towards the end – position matters. Put your brand name after a “pipe” (|) symbol at the end. And make sure you don’t run off the page of the SERPs. Test it using a SERP simulator.
You have 100 characters to put in the page title (including spaces and punctuation), but only about 65 will display in the Google search results. Note that this length is literally measured in pixels! If your company’s name was a bunch of capitalized “W”s (which use more pixels or horizontal space), you’d have less characters than a company with all capitalized “I”s.
Google may replace your given title with whatever it feels is appropriate, so it won’t necessarily show what you put in there, but I’ve found in practice, a good title is good for Google, and typically appears.
The page description, or meta description, does not influence your position in the search results. However, it can influence clicks on your search result because it’s your first, and possibly last, opportunity to market to your customer.
The meta description often (but not always) shows up as the two lines of text in Google’s search results. Having a great marketing message that includes your target keyphrase can help influence who clicks on you and who doesn’t.
Here too, you have only a limited amount of text that you can put in your meta description before Google will cut you off with an elipsis (“…”).
Don’t waste this space! Whenever possible, try to end your meta description with a call-to-action, like “Call today: 925-555-1212”
Keywords Meta Tag
The keywords tag is 100% ignored by Google, so don’t waste a calorie on this; just leave it blank. If you must, you can put your keyword phrase there, and some of the other search engines may pay a small bit of attention to it.
Then again, you have to wonder who’s using these “other” search engines?
The body is the main part of the article, and tells Google all about the page. Google is looking at the text, the surrounding text, and everything else on the page to determine what that page is about, or the “theme” of the page.
You don’t want to just repeat your keyword phrase in your text and try to stuff it into every corner and every sentence you can. That is considered spammy, it reads poorly, and in any case, it doesn’t work. The page of content should include your keyword phrase, variations of it, as well as synonyms and antonyms.
Occasionally you may need a blunt instrument to jiggle the machine, like “digital marketing bay area” but in general it’s best to make things as readable as possible.
Within the body content, you can include your keyphrase in several other places:
The H1 or main header tag should only appear once on the page, and it should be at the top. It should include your keyword phrase at the beginning.
You can include one or more H2 tags (or H3, H4, H5 and H6) as sub-headers. Google counts all of them as the same, even though they are often formatted differently. The header tags also help break up the blocks of text so it’s easier on the eyes and easier to skim or read.
Google also gives a slight boost to bulleted text and bold text. So if your keyword phrases are in bullets or bolded, that can help a little too.
If you have your keyword phrase in an outgoing link that’s going to a related page (either on your site or even someone else’s site), it’s been shown that these outgoing links actually help with your SEO efforts. Linking out to authoritative resources is good for the reader, and Google is all about what’s good for the reader.
Your web address for any page on your website has four components, and you should include your keyword phrase anytime you can. A great place to have your keyword phrase is within your URL, ideally at the front, but somewhere within is better than not at all.
You don’t have a lot of control over your domain name, and you can’t change it for every phrase. But if it’s in your domain name, like www.keywordphrase.com, it will help.
By the way, having multiple keyword domain names pointing at the same website actually hurts your SEO efforts.
Your subdomain can include keywords. So as an example, keyword.yourcompany.com could help your SEO efforts. It can also be a PITA to maintain, so use this one judiciously.
Folder or Path Name
If you break your pages into folders or sub-pages, the folder name can include your keyword phrase, like www.yourcompany.com/keyword/page1
Finally, the actual page name can (and should) include your keyword phrase, like www.yourcompany.com/keyword-phrases-are-good-for-SEO
Your graphics can include your keyword phrase in several places, and they all help.
This is describing the actual image, but don’t stuff your keywords. If it’s a picture of a white horse, just make the alt tag “white horse”. The alt tag is really intended for people with sight impairment or who block images to see what images are on the page. You don’t want them to see “holiday cruises holiday cruises holiday cruises”.
Make sure the actual file name of the image includes your keyword phrase, like “white-horse.jpg”.
SEO Properties of the Graphic File
If you have Photoshop or other graphic editing programs, you can actually edit the Title, Description and Keywords meta tags in the file itself.
See the example to the right, the file name is “best-video-marketing-platform.jpg”, and I’ve inserted the SEO properties too. If you search Google images for “best video marketing platform”, you should see it #1 in the results (the “Tell Stories” graphic).
You don’t generally have a lot of control over the links that come into your website, but if you have a relationship with the editor of the content, you can potentially ask the webmaster for specific anchor text (the text that’s highlighted in the link itself).
The major types of anchor text include:
- Keyword Phrase – the incoming link text includes your keyword phrase, but make sure it points to a target page that is all about that keyword phrase.
- Company or Brand Name – the incoming link text is your company or “brand” name. This is called a citation, and Google values this. They actually changed their algorithm a few years ago, and are now more interested in brand links than actual keyword phrase text links.
- “Naked” Link – The URL of your website itself.
A blend of all of these types of anchor text signal a “natural” anchor text profile to Google, and Google likes to think that everything about the web is “natural”.
Example of a Well-Optimized Web Page
Here’s an example of a well-optimized web page. The search term is “pomeranian puppy training”, and you can see many of the elements described above in this page:
Review your own content and see if you’ve gotten many or most of the spots in your own setup. Pick a few pages, and do an audit to see if you’re good or if you need to improve. I also like the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool to crawl your site, and spit out a report. It’s such a huge time saver.
However, it’s easy to get carried away. You can “over-optimize” a web page by trying to cram your phrase into corner of the content, and Google will actually downgrade that page in the search results. Just make it sound natural and you should be fine.
Also note that just because you put your phrase into all 16 places, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be number 1 for a search phrase. There are many other factors that Google takes into account, but this is a good start that your competitors probably aren’t doing.
What are your thoughts? Did I miss any place to put your keyword phrase? Tell me in the comments below.