Skip the metadata
You've written the content — now relax. Let the designer worry about the titles, descriptions, alt tags, urls, and headings. Happy hour, anyone?
Sorry, friends — there’s still work to be done.
You are the content expert. This makes you the best person to make sure metadata isn’t a hasty afterthought.
Meta titles tell visitors and search engines what any given page is about. In search engines results, meta titles appear as the linked text. If someone is excited enough to share your stuff on social media, the meta title pops up as the first line of text. Meta titles should be concise, informative, accurate. They need to capture people’s attention. Google will display the first 50 to 60 characters of a title — so get to the point!
And that meta description? It’s a short snippet summarizing what’s on the page. It’s considered less important as far as search ranking goes, but it should give someone a reason to click on your content. It appears below the meta title in a search result. In 320 characters or less, it should tell someone why they should click on the content.
Make sure your keywords show up in:
- H1, H2, and other header tags
- The url for each page
- Meta titles and descriptions
- Alt tags on images
Stuff content with keywords
You know the subject, you know the audience, and you know the keywords they want to hear. So make sure they hear them — over and over and over and over.
Okay, keyword stuffing not only makes your content sound tedious and forced, but search engines will ding you for being obnoxious. Want to be on the safe side? Use the find function to highlight different keywords. If your content lights up like a skyscraper at night, there’s a good chance you overdid it.
Good SEO means a diversity of keywords and phrases in context. Don’t be afraid to use synonyms. This all ties back to research — if you know your subject, you’ll know how to use words and terms to explain the topic, without being spammy. Google Adwords Keywords Planner is a great way to find alternative words and phrases.
Let’s say we’re writing content for an HVAC company.
Keyword stuffing for a client might sound like this:
“For all of your air conditioning, ac repair, hvac system, ac unit or other air conditioning repairs we’re your local ac repair place for all of your air conditioning and ac repair needs.”
Sure, this sentence makes use of appropriate keywords, but it’s stilted and difficult to read. Weave your keywords in authentically. Subtly.
Overlook long-tail keywords
If you’re only using single keywords, your content is being lost amongst hundreds of other pages talking about the same thing. If you’re point is to be invisible — great job!
But we know it's not. (Unless we're talking superpowers.)
For a more focused approach to SEO, use long-tail keywords to target specific users.
Long-tail keywords are short phrases — three or more words. They allow for a more precise targeting of your audience. Long-tail keywords are effective when you’re trying to bring local users to your site, people actively looking for your specific content.
Let’s say you’re an organic coffee roaster in the sunny city of Phoenix, AZ. Some long-tail keywords could include:
- Fair-trade coffee in Phoenix
- Coffee bean roasters in Phoenix
- Organic coffee in Phoenix
- Wholesale coffee beans in Phoenix
So don’t cast a wide net, but use specific search-engine-optimized terms to reel in a particular audience.
SEO is a science
Like any science, you need to do your research and follow protocol. Chemists know the right amounts and types of substances to combine to get desired results. You should have the same approach with the right measures and combinations of keywords to avoid an SEO disaster.
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!