Pretty often these days new clients ask, sort of sheepishly, “So…how do I do SEO?” or “How can I get better search engines optimization for my site?” Of course, what they’re really asking is, “How can get on the first result on Google anytime someone searches for anything even remotely related to my business?” It’s an honest question, and so many business owners are terribly confused by what they’ve told about how to get a better search result, or worse, just ripped off.
I want to show you how to make sure each article and page on your website is created in such a way that the search engines love it. This will work whether you’re using WordPress or not using WordPress, but some of it is just easier if you are. The first thing to remember is that an entire site doesn’t rank well. Individual PAGES rank well. You might have a zillion pages of amazing pillar content, but if your individual pages aren’t optimized well, you’re not going to rank as well as you could. Here’s the outline of what we’re going to look at for an individual page:
- Determining the KEYWORD you want that page to rank for.
- Including that keyword in the TITLE and the URL.
- Including the keyword in your META-DESCRIPTION.
- Including the keyword in your CONTENT, but not too much.
- Including HEADING TAGS in your content.
- Including INTERNAL and EXTERNAL links in your content.
- Including your keyword in your IMAGE file name, title and alt tags.
What is a Keyword? It’s the word or phrase people search for when they’re looking for that thing related to your business. For me, it might be “WordPress designers,” or “WordPress Columbus.” I want to be found when someone looks for those words. Those aren’t the ONLY keywords (or even the best keywords) I want to be found for, just like you should have lots more than two or three.
So how can you find out what words people are searching for related to your business? There are lots of ways, but the first and most important tool I’m going to introduce you to is the Google Keyword Tool. Jump over to that site, punch in a keyword related to your business and you’ll immediately see some information about how often that word or phrase is searched for through Google. You can sort keywords the number of searches the keyword gets on a global and local monthly basis. Tons of searches can be good, but then if you compare that to the competition and CPC for that keyword (cost per click – the money Google says it will cost you to pay for click on an ad running using that keyword), you can begin to get an idea of the landscape for your keyword. While lots of people may jump at the opportunity to optimize an article for a keyword with 200,000 results, that keyword may be so competitive that you might be better off going after keywords that have closer to 20K or 12K, with less competition.
Take for example this post, the same one you’re reading. At the time I wrote this, I wanted to try to rank this post for the term “search engine optimization.” I know that’s an obviously crowded field (that phrase alone gets over 300K searches a month with over 144 MILLION results!). But as I looked through the related keywords, I saw that the keyword “search engines optimization” gets 27K searches globally, and almost 15K searches locally. That’s nothing to sneeze at. The CPC is high, but the competition for it is low. What that means is that a LOT of people are searching for that phrase with the obvious intention to find the same thing as someone searching for “search engine optimization”, but NOT a lot of people are bidding on it through Google Adwords. That leaves it wide open for me to use the phrase “search engines optimization” in this post and to try to rank for it organically.
You can do the same thing in your niche! A simple misspelling like that is an obvious and kind of simpleton example… Look beyond the obvious keywords for your niche and look further into what your customers are searching for when looking for items related to your business. A real estate agent obviously wants to rank for “Columbus real estate agent” but also might want to rank for “relocation companies columbus” or “columbus home inspector” as people looking for those may very well also be in need of a realtor. More posts to come in the days to come about keyword research and how you can use it to inform your content marketing…
Whether you’re using WordPress or not, you have control over the title of your post or page, and its URL.
Keywords in the Title
This should be obvious, but it’s just not. Include your keyword in the title of your post. Don’t go crazy with it! I wouldn’t make the title of this post “Search Engines Optimization: Why Search Engines Optimization is Simpler than You Thought Search Engines Optimization Could Be.” That’s just stupid. Search engines are not dumb and can tell when you’re blatantly stuffing your article with your keyword. Your title should have no more 70 characters in it, but should use as many of those 70 as possible.
Keywords in the URL
In WordPress, the URL for this post you’re reading (technically called a Permalink, as you can see in the picture above), is http://mynameisangie.com/search-engines-optimization/
Do you see the highlighted section after http://mynameisangie.com/ in the picture above? You can edit that to say whatever you want. If you DON’T edit it, it will simply become the title of your post with dashes between the words (http://mynameisangie.com/search-engines-optimization-why-its-simpler-than-you-think). Usually, that URL is too long, it’s not memorable and you’ll want to distill it down as much as possible to contain only the words that speak most directly to the content of your article and keywords. So, I clicked edit and changed it to search-engines-optimization . Pretty simple.
The meta-description is the paragraph of text that displays immediately after the title and url in a search result. Using WordPress, it will usually display the first 170 characters of the page or post you’ve written, which may or may not the most captivating 170 characters you could entice someone with! I use a plugin called WordPress SEO to gain the ability to customize my metadescriptions per page and post (and category and…). It does TONS more than that, and I’ll go over some of that in a video at the end of this already too long post. It is one of only a few MUST HAVE WordPress plugins, IMO. Also, some themes are set up to allow you to use the custom excerpt function to write the metadescription per post and page, but that’s up to the theme author whether they created their theme that way.
WordPress SEO in case you didn’t get the link earlier. It’s free. Open it in another window and download it later.
If you really want your site to rank well, you may have to change your thinking about how your site ranks with search engines. I recently had a new client ask me why his site about custom made clothing wasn’t ranking well when people searched for the term “custom made shirts.” No matter that he only mentioned “custom made shirts” on one page of his site… and on that one page, he only mentioned it once. It SHOULD go without saying, but it just doesn’t for too many: if you want your site to rank well for a particular term, you’re going to have to talk about that term in your article. Search engines optimization doesn’t happen magically. Computers read your content, and if your content doesn’t talk about your keyword or phrase, then why should you expect search engines to think your page is important to people searching for it?
This is a flexible, ever changing figure, but approximately 3-7% of each article you write should mention the keyword or phrase you’d like to rank for. So this article is getting to be really long, and only mentions search engines optimization 11 times (or .71% of the article). That’s not a lot. For the length of this article, I could definitely go back and beef up the mentions of search engines optimization. Note: That WordPress SEO plugin will help you figure out the percentage of keywords mentions in your articles.
Search engines optimization is not just about mentioning your keyword over and over. It’s also about organizing your content in a way that makes it easy for search engines to quickly scan and understand your content and how it relates to your keyword. Do you remember in high school when you had to write reports, using numbered, indented outlines? That outlining process is available to you as your write your content, and choosing to use it properly will increase your site’s search engines optimization. Here’s how:
See this drop down in your WordPress toolbar?
It gives you access to HEADING TAGS. If you highlight a block of text, then choose one of those headings, it will wrap your content in html that look like this, depending on the tag:
Those heading tags act just like an outline for your content, defining the sections of your articles for both readers and search engines. And just like an outline for a paper in high school would have important titles, your headings should be written in a way that if someone wanted to scan just the CONTENTS page of your paper (or article) they’d be able to get the gist just by reading it. Accordingly, you’ll want to include your keywords or phrase in your Headings, when it makes sense.
Helpful tip: Heading 1 or H1 should be reserved for the MOST important information on your page: the Page Title. WordPress automatically wraps your page title in H1 tags when you type in the title of your post or page, so you don’t need to use that.
Many people think that the Heading tags are simply meant to increase the font size of the type in their post. Just like if you were writing an outline with Word or Google Docs, your outline headings will usually be styled with decreasing font sizes in your theme (larger to smaller from h1 – h6). They DO help visually organize your content, but they also help organize your content for search engines optimization.
No man is an island, and neither is any post or page on your site an island. Every article on your site should include links to other content, both on your own site and on sites other than your own. This is a quick tip, but extremely important. You want each article on your site to build relationships with your own content, and with content that is relevant to yours on other sites. If you’ve never learned how to map out a high-quality backlinking strategy, go learn how from Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income. The information he shares in this post about backlinking is worth more than most SEO consultants.
When adding relevant images to your posts or pages (which you should do), remember to include your keyword or phrases in the image file name, title and alt tags, too. This will give search engine’s information about those images, and also give image search engines what they need to refer people to your site through its images.
Search Engines Optimization : That’s not so hard, is it?
In essence, that entire 2,000+ word post was to tell you to put your keywords or phrases in your titles, url, description, content, heading tags, links and images. Is this EVERYTHING there is to know about search engines optimization? No, of course not. But this is probably 80% of solid ONSITE optimization, and I would say that 85% of small business owners who have a website have NO IDEA that they should be doing this. That’s good for you because just doing these simple things consistently can DRAMATICALLY increase your site’s rankings. So what are you waiting for? Go open up your site write a post with your keywords done well across the post and report back the results!
Do you do these things consistently for your own site?