When it comes to the complicated task of search engine optimization (SEO), it's best to start with the basics — and the most basic part of SEO is keyword locations. Keywords are the search terms that people type into search engines.
Where you use them, how often you use them and even where you don't use them will impact your likelihood of landing on someone's search engine results page (SERP). And to put it not so delicately, the difference between being on Page 1 and Page 2 of SERP can be company survival or company struggles. According to the HubSpot blog, fewer than 10 percent of people get to the second page of search engine results. Also, ranking No.1 leads to four times more visits than ranking No. 2.
Increase your chances of snagging a new site visitor by targeting your keywords in the following 6 locations.
1. Page Titles
It seems like a no-brainer, but this is a big one. Titles are perhaps the single-most important on-page SEO element. While the Page Title (otherwise known as a "Title Tag") doesn't appear on the web page itself (unless you specifically type it in separately), it does appear in the browser tab at the top of a page and in search engine results. Similarly, it's the default text that appears when a page is shared via social media on Facebook and Twitter.
Here are 6 tips to keep in mind when creating your Page Title:
- Try to keep your Page Title below 55 characters. Google only displays the first 50-60 characters of a Page Title depending on a computer screen's pixel display. The majority of screens will display your Title Tag properly if you aim to limit your title to 55 characters or less.
- Write your Page Title to be compelling to both humans and search engines. It should be concise, accurate, interesting and descriptive all at once. It's important that your Page Title not only contain the keyword, but also that it piques the interest of web searchers. More compelling Page Titles will lead to more clicks and a higher click through rate (CTR). The higher a page's CTR, the higher it will rank on SERPs.
- Only list the keyword in your Page Title once. Repeating doesn't provide any benefit and will appear as "keyword stuffing," thus turning off those searching on the web.
- Use your keyword early in your Page Title. This will further optimize your page and ensure that your keyword is visible to human eyes that are merely skimming page titles.
- Use a new Page Title for each page on your site. Each page on your site should serve a different purpose and therefore will require a new title. This gives you an opportunity to attract visitors with multiple keywords.
- Consider your formatting. An optimal format is Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Brand Name. Other options include:
- Primary Keyword | Brand Name
- Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword
- Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword in a Sentence
- Primary Keyword - Brand Name
- Brand Name | Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword
2. Image File Names and Alternate Text
Although it's a minor search engine factor, the image file name and alternate text are an easy place to use your keywords. It's also a great way to increase your site's chance of showing up in a Google Image search.
When you save a file to your computer with the end goal of uploading it to your webpage, name the file to reflect the subject matter as well as your keyword. For example, if your camera automatically names a photo you took of bread baking IMAGE10.jpg, rename it Bake-Bread.jpg. Search engine crawlers do not ignore the name of your image and neither should you.
A similar strategy can be used to approach alternate text. Alternate text is the text that displays when a web browser cannot display an image. Provide alternate text for every single image on your site. It will serve to both describe an image if a browser doesn't load it correctly and further optimize your site for search engines and Google image results. Describe your image accurately and in common English.
The "alt text" is also the text that appears when you let your mouse sit over an image. Try it!
A good rule of thumb is to think like Google. If you cannot see an image and it has no ALT tag, no title, and is named C22353.jpg, you will have no idea what that image is. However, if you cannot see an image but it has an alt tag of "Bread Baking" and a title of Bread_Baking.jpg you will have a much better idea of what that image is.
While it's important to provide good quality images and photography, it's also essential to keep your image file sizes low. You don't want to go through the trouble of fully optimizing your site and your images, only to lose site visitors because large files cause a site to load too slowly.
According to a study by OnlineGraduatePrograms.com, one in four people will leave a website if the page takes more than four seconds to load. Want to know what that could mean in dollars? Amazon has calculated that if their pages slow down loading images by as little as 1 second, they could lose $1.6 billion a year. Ouch.
3. Meta Description
While your site's meta description doesn't technically have an effect on your SEO for engines like Google and Bing, it is still a crucial location for your keyword. If search engine users see the word they searched in the description, there is a much higher chance they will click on your site. Also, Google bolds the searched terms in results attracting visitors eyes and ultimately clicks. In meta descriptions especially, it's important to write for humans first and search engines second.
Your meta description appears as the description in a search engine. If no text is set, it will pull text from the page as it finds it. That can result in confusing and unhelpful descriptions!
Keep these important tips in mind when writing your meta description.
- Try to provide an informative description of your web page in 155 characters or less.
- Share a value proposition with humans reading your meta description. What knowledge or benefit will the user gain by clicking on your page?
- Write in a conversational tone that is welcoming to readers.
If your keyword actually describes the content on your page, include it in the page URL (otherwise known as a web address). You can do this on page's within your site as well as in the URL for each one of your entries. If you are a regular blogger this can create a huge impact on the amount of times your keyword registers, as a new URL is created each time you blog.
Most blogging platforms create a default URL, so it's important to go in and change the URL for each blog you write and check it for optimization. When naming the URL for your web page keep this in mind: If it's easier for a human to understand, it's easier for a web crawler to understand as well.
This article is following best practices in its URL. It is dated, and the title (keywords included) is echoed in the URL's name ... minus "unimportant" short words, such as "why," "are" and "the."
5. Body Text
The importance of a keyword in your body text is twofold. First, keywords in your content will increase your search ranking therefore it helps your SEO. Second, if someone lands on your site thanks to search engine results, they want to see the terms they searched. Only use the keywords where it fits naturally, and make sure you are writing for humans, not for search engines.
Many web pages link to other pages within their website and throughout the web via hyperlinks. When doing so, links are given an "anchor text." Anchor text is the text that is visible to the reader that links to another URL. Use your keyword in the anchor text in order to improve your SEO.
It's also important not to forget about inbound links. These are links to your website from external sources — or, to put it more simply, links that other sites or blogs post that lead back to your blog or site. While you can't control these and they don't live on your page, they are still important as they work toward your rank. HubSpot has a great blog post about tricks to increase your chances of securing inbound links.