Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more than just a list of keywords. How and where you use those keywords can either help or hurt the way search engines rank your website and impact your inbound marketing program. Different SEO techniques also carry more or less weight in ranking formulas. SEO experts understand the complex interactions between myriad SEO elements, but even a virtual novice can develop an effective SEO strategy by manipulating the following on-page and off-page SEO factors:
Search engines consider the page title the most significant element on a page. Strategically chosen keyword(s) should be included in the page title, preferably at the beginning of the title. If optimizing for a 2-to-3-word keyword phrase, keep the phrase intact in the title. Keep titles short. Search engines prefer 3 to 6 word titles. Do not create your title just for search bots. A page title must also grab and keep the site visitor's attention. It can't be a jumble of keywords; it has to make sense to visitors. Your title must also be relevant - i.e. the subject of the blog post or page. Being at the top of the search list won't help you if visitors are not intrigued enough by your title to click onto your site. Search engines will demote you if your page title is not consistent with content. Relevance is vital in capturing qualified sales leads, because people are searching for your strategic keywords. In other words, if they find what they are looking for, they are already inclined to dig deeper and click through on your landing pages.
Headings and subheadings are heavily weighted by SEO algorithms and are an effective place to use keywords. Place your most heavily weighted keywords in your headings. Just be certain the headings make sense to site visitors. Use headings sparingly to improve the layout of your content and use keywords. Remember the relevance criteria. Your content must make sense or no one will read it or subscribe to it.
Keyword rich body text provides necessary follow-through on the keywords used in your title and headings. While page content is not a huge factor in SEO algorithms, it is essential in developing and maintaining site visitor traffic. Utilizing keywords in italics, bold face, underlined or in outgoing links increases their perceived importance to search engines. Keyword phrases should be kept together. Keyword use in body text is important but should not be overdone. One to 3 uses per 100 words is optimal. Again, focus on the relevance and value of your post or page as a whole to keep readers interested and ready for more.
While they were once crucial to getting found in search, META tags have fallen out of SEO favor. Google now ignores keyword META tags and other search engines give them little weight. However, the description tag is still alive and well, because it serves as a summary of the content of your blog post or web page. Write a description that will grab the visitor's attention and entice them to click through to your content.
Tomorrow: Off-page SEO Factors
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