Part I – Keyword Optimization
So, what exactly is keyword optimization? Using one sentence for an answer– Keyword optimization can be defined as using the right words in the right places.
How Do I Achieve Page One Rankings?
If you’re involved in SEO, you’ve undoubtedly heard this question a lot. Unfortunately, an exact, step-by-step formula doesn’t exist, but there are certain ‘best practices’ you can implement to give you a clear advantage over your competition.
Your first step to page one rankings involve the keywords and keyword phrases used in your web content.
Keyword Optimization Best Practices – Remember, like I said–nothing is set in stone, but here are the basics that generally stay the same:
- Title: Clever titles are so tempting, especially for an intelligent, creative freelance writer. Trust me on this one and use the main keyword phrase that you are trying to rank for in your title. Best case scenario: Use the exact keyword phrase as the first words of the title without any filler words in between.
- Meta Description: The Meta Description is the little blurb that appears right after the title. It should be kept to 160 characters or less and although the description doesn’t directly affect rankings, a good description will increase click-through rates. Increased traffic is what you are ultimately after, so it’s a vital part of optimization.
- Keyword Location: For best results, the targeted keyword phrase should ideally be used within the first fifty words of the content. The engines do seem to show preference for pages that use keywords early on in the text.
- Keyword Density: This is an important one. Web content needs to strike the proper balance between valuable content and including important keywords. Targeted keyword phrases should not sound unnatural and they shouldn’t be used more than 9%. Once in the title, once in the first 50 words and two to three times in the body of a 500-600 word article is just fine. If you are relatively new to keyword optimization, there are plenty of tips and tactics that are clearly against Google’s rules and can actually hurt your site. Tactics such as ‘keyword stuffing’ and invisible text to ad keywords are deceitful and should not be considered.
- H1 Headline: Although there are varying viewpoints regarding the importance of H1 Headlines, it is still considered to be best practice. Include the keyword phrase in the headline.
- Image Filename: Traffic from images has become quite important in search strategies. Be sure to optimize by naming your images by using proper targeted keywords.
- Alt Attribute for Images: This little gem carries much more search engine juice than you would think. Many studies have proven it to play a big part in rankings. Along with the image filename, use the alt attribute for images with the targeted keywords as the tag.
- Bolding or Italicizing Keyword Phrases: On a scale of one to ten for importance, this one isn’t that high–maybe a two. It certainly stands to reason that every little bit helps. It is recommended to use the keyword phrase in bold at least once in the content.
The Perfect Balance
Although it is so easy to implement these simple practices, we don’t always do it. Like I mentioned earlier in the post, sometimes our creativity does something to us that fogs our brain and causes us to completely ignore these simple tactics for keywords.
In addition to these strategies, always remember that your content must be intelligent, valuable and compelling. Useful information will attract a following that will keep your visitors coming back for more. Remember, striking that balance is the key to ideal page optimization.