The Single Most Important Aspect Of SEO
That’s right, and you thought it was backlinks was the key to a solid SEO strategy. Nope, the single most important aspect of SEO is your content optimization. Without it, it really doesn’t matter how many backlinks you get. Your site will just not perform all that well. But it doesn’t mean that you need to write novels on each and every page of your website. Or create a four hour marathon video about how to knit a quilt if that’s your thing. It does need to be high quality content that people are going to enjoy reading and sharing with their friends. If you can get them to do that, then you won’t have to worry about link building because your audience will do it for you, eventually.
The Key Points To Content Optimization
Now let me start off by saying I am not telling you to write a post about a specific keyword.
More to the point what I want you to do is to take your topic and then find a keyword within that topic.
For example, lets say we want to write about “real estate in Dallas, TX”.
We have done our keyword research on the that particular long tail keyword and we know there is traffic going to it.
But we don’t want to write content that looks like this:
Real Estate in Dallas, TX is great because when you buy real estate in Dallas, TX you will be moving your family in some of the great neighborhoods you can find when searching for real estate in Dallas, TX
Ok, that was a bit extreme of an example but you get the point.
Content like that is really hard to read and designed solely for the purpose of gaming the search engines.
And back in the day that stuff actually worked.
That is why when you were doing searches on Google or Bing you found a lot of sites like that and had to keep going back to the search results.
The search engines are getting better at picking up that kind of content so don’t write your stuff like that please.
Perhaps your content could look something like this:
Over the course of the years there have been several shifts around real estate in Dallas, TX in relation to price drops and a flooded market. But today with the increased ecumenic stability within our great city, prices are on the rise and sellers are able to breath again.
You see in that piece of content I only mentioned the keyword once.
And this post could be around 1000 words or so and I might repeat that term two or three more times.
But not much more than that beyond what I needed to in order to have a really good article.
If you are into math, and I hate math by the way, you want to keep your keyword density around 2% these days. Some people will tell you more, some will tell you less. The middle is around 2%.
You can figure out your keyword density by using this formula:
Keyword Density = (Nkr / Tkn) x 100
Density = your keyword density
Nkr = how many times you repeated a specific keyword
Tkn = total words in the analyzed text
So, if your article or piece of content (the text you are analyzing) is 500 words in length and you have used your keyword 15 times, the keyword density for that keyword is…
Keyword density = (Nkr / Tkn) x 100
= (15 / 500) x 100
= 0.03 x 100
Keyword density = 3% !!!
That’s pretty straight-forward, huh?
I know its a lot of work to get that right and who has time for that?
There are several plugin’s that do it for you automatically.
I recommend Scribe for all my clients.
Time To Get To The Bones of Content Optimization
When I talk about content optimization I am talking about on page seo.
To me they are one in the same.
And quite frankly its really easy for you to do.
Especially if your using WordPress, which is by far the easiest way to manage your content on the planet right now.
So let me take you down my checklist from start to finish like your writing a brand new blog post.
Doing it this way will actually get you into a habit of doing SEO without thinking about it.
Content Optimization/On-Page Checklist
1. Title Tags
Title tags are the first exposure that people and search engines get to your site. Think of it like an index to a book. Google is indexing this big massive book called the internet and it has to find a way to tell people what’s out there. Your title tag is the very first indicator of what that page of the book is covering. And I know I already talked about this in part three of the series but its because its just that important.
So if we are writing about “real estate in Dallas, TX” we want the search engines and people to know that.
Our title tag would look something like this:
Real Estate In Dallas, TX
But we also want to get the readers attention. And that particular title tag really doesn’t encourage the searcher to click on the link does it?
You have to keep them in mind when creating your titles as well. So you could try something like this:
Real Estate In Dallas, TX How To Find The Best Value
Of course that is not my best copy writing but you get the idea.
Keep your keyword towards the front of the title tag, and let the searcher know what they are going to get inside the page.
This will increase your search engine click through rate, even if you aren’t in the number one position quite yet.
Here is another good example of a title tag
Here is how it looked in the search results
Some other key things to remember when creating them:
- keep them down below 70 characters
- make each title tag on your website different
- you can add your site name to each title tag if you want, but it really doesn’t matter and I would suggest you don’t. This will allow more space for those creative titles your writing.
2. Meta (Page) Descriptions
Meta descriptions are actually not all that important in regards to your rankings these day. This came about because people were putting their keywords over and over into this section. And ultimately they were providing no value at all to the search. Today though they do have some value in regards to click generation. So we want to keep putting out description in there for what the content is about. But you need to think of it in a different way.
Have you ever heard of a 30 second commercial?
People who are looking for jobs and have the opportunity to go to some type of interview training are taught this concept. Basically, you have 30 seconds to make a lasting impression on the interviewer. In those 30 seconds you want to express the key values that you have that will best represent you and fit into the need of the company looking to hire.
It might sound something like this:
My name is Clint Butler I am from Olympia, Washington. I have a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and I am currently working on my Masters Degree in Internet Marketing from Full Sail University. I recently retired from the Army after 21 years. I am a loyal and competent member of a team with specific technical training in search engine optimization, marketing, and human resources. I have skills in planning, coordinating, and executing complex programs. And possess a high level of motivation and dedication to organizations I with whom I work.
Sounds pretty good right?
Anyway that is what you need to think of your meta description as.
Your web pages 30 second commercial to make a first impression on the reader.
But you won’t have all that wonderful space to make it as long as what I typed above.
As a matter of fact, in your meta description, your commercial is only allowed to have 156 characters in it.
After that the search engines will cut out the rest of what you have written.
We do want to put our keywords in there.
And the reason we do that is that it helps your listing stand out when the search engine’s bold it. Take a look at this example again:
You see how the keywords were bold in the results.
That is a good thing because it tells the reader, not only is this page about Seattle real estate agents.
But its about real estate agents in general.
Also note how the description is perfect.
The search wants a home, he or she wants the perfect home.
And they want the best real estate agents available to help them get there.
Now you see why I picked this listing out of the bunch.
It makes you want to click on it and check out the information on the page.
Some things to remember when writing descriptions:
- make them your 30 second commercial
- keep the length down to 156 characters (a good SEO plugin does this for you)
- don’t write the same description on different pages
- you can’t use quotes or any other type of characters like ( ‘ ) in your descriptions. They display funny when you try.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast will help you create these tags so make sure you have watched the tutorial on how to set it up in part three.
3. Content with Targeted Keyword Phrases
If you notice I talk a lot about keywords and keyword phrases.
Like I told you in part four of this series.
Keyword research is the most important thing you can do for your website.
I have already talked about this above.
And I go into a little bit more below.
So just keep to the guidelines above and your doing great with targeting keywords phrases.
4. Header Tags and Keyword Phrases
Header tags are known as H1, H2, and H3 tags.
There are more that are available to you but you really only need these three.
Do you notice how my post is broken up into sections?
I used the H1, H2, and H3 tags to do this.
And in doing so you are doing a couple things.
First, you are breaking up the content so the reader can scan the sections of your content find out if your going to solve their problem.
Plus, you are using them to capture your readers attention.
If you can’t do that in ten seconds or less, they are leaving your website.
Second, you are telling the search engines.
Look at this post.
Its about blue widgets.
But it’s also about what a blue widget is, how to use the blue widget, where to buy the blue widget.
Here is how that would look with the tags applied:
H1 Tag – What is a blue widget?
H2 Tag – How to use a blue widget?
H3 Tag – Where to buy the blue widget?
Within WordPress you can find these tags listed for you really easy.
All you have to do is highlight the words you want to tag, click that button, and select from the options.
Now let me tell you this as a matter of fact. There is no proven data showing that using heading tags helps your rankings in any way.
But, there is also no proven data that it doesn’t either.
So in my practice we use them to do two things.
One, being able to ensure that you the reader can identify your information as valuable.
Two, if it helps the search engines to know what your content is about, why not use them.
5. Internal Page Linking with Anchor Text
Ok, we are going to get into anchor text really well in the next part of the series so I don’t want to spoil my thunder.
But I do want to talk to you about interlinking and a new way to think about how to do it.
And there are two options to get this done.
The first option is to create a funnel within your content.
Lets say that you have a particular page on your website that you absolutely want your visitors to see.
It will most likely will be your primary offer.
So in order to take advantage of all the traffic that your little pages are bringing in.
You will always want to link to your main offer page in every relevant post.
The second way you can conduct your interlinking is to create new content.
Then go back to your old content that already has backlinks and PageRank.
Inside that old post you link to the new content.
Since your old content already has trust established on the internet.
That trust is immediately passed onto your stuff.
The last benefit of interlinking your web pages is that your making it much much easier for the search engines to find all your content when your interlinking your pages.
6. Image ALT Tags and File names
Having different types of content on your web pages is becoming more and more important these days.
First off, not everyone likes to read 2000+ words of text, even if it is your life’s work.
Second, not everyone will love the very sound of your voice and will not listen to your audio or watch your video.
And finally, some people just check out the pictures in a book and they do the same on the internet.
So what is a webmaster to do?
Use them all of course.
When you are crafting your posts though you absolutely have to have images on the page.
This goes back to using the heading tags to break up your content.
Images do the same thing.
And they are even better when they visually represent your content that you have written.
Now when you upload your images onto your site you are going to have to assign ALT tags to them.
Generally, your alt tag should be a couple word description of what your image is.
Have a picture of a castle, alt tag is Castle On The Rhein.
But you also want to have a picture with your keyword as the alt tag.
Selling Blue Widgets and you have a picture of one.
Name the Alt Tag blue widget.
But don’t go nuts and add 50 photo’s of your blue widget and call them all the same thing in the alt tags.
This is a big red flag to the search engines that your trying to manipulate the rankings.
Its is perfectly ok to have pictures of the same product however with different names in the alt tag.
For example, we are selling blue widgets, and I already have the main product image up with the alt tag blue widget.
Now I have several photo’s showing all the sides of the product, and the contents of the package when you order the blue widget. You just name them respectively.
i.e. Blue Widget Shipping Contents, Blue Widget Controls, Blue Widget Features.
7. Make Content Easy to Read
This is probably the easiest thing for you to do.
Just be yourself when you write.
Don’t worry too much about the keywords.
Focus more on providing value to your reader and solving the problem that they have.
The other day I was watching a show on the internet called “Shark Tank“.
If you don’t know it you should take a look at it by the way.
On this show there was a product developer selling these wall panels that you can add to your home or office.
Then using these magnet’s they were able to attach large and small containers to the panels.
Inside these containers you could plant a garden if you were so inclined.
I tell you that because these guys actually solved a problem that many people have.
Not having enough space in their homes to create a garden.
They identified a problem that the market was facing.
Determined that there were a lot of people with that problem and created a solution for it.
That’s all your doing in your online marketing.
Your doing your research and finding a problem.
Doing your keyword research to find out how many people are looking to solve that problem.
And now your writing content to provide them with a solution to that problem.
That is what your content is for, and how your going to keep getting traffic.
But people won’t read it online if its clumped together in big long paragraphs.
If they wanted to read book style writing they would have went to a book store.
So to make your stuff easy to read add your personality into it.
And get to the point. If long detailed information is not required to solve the problem. Then don’t use them.
8. Meta Keywords
Ok this one has a bit of a caveat for you.
Early in the days of SEO people were just hammering this particular tag.
They would add all possible variations of a keyword in order to get better rankings.
And it was tantamount to spam when you tried to find anything using a search engine.
So Google and Bing completely discounted them for ranking purposes.
But these days there are some themes that still add this tag to your web pages, even if you don’t use them by default.
The problem with that is that some of these themes automatically select some of the worst possible words.
Then your page looks likes its a spam page and you didn’t even know it.
Thesis is one of the themes that does this and you can’t turn it off.
Genesis, however, fully integrates with WordPress SEO and does not auto add keyword tags.
So what I do to prevent this within my themes is add keywords to the meta tag if that automatic add feature is there.
You have to be smart when doing this.
You need to ensure that you are not adding several variations into this tag.
Use your keyword first, then add two, maybe three variations and that’s it. Nothing more.
Bing has come out publicly and said that they use the keyword tag to identify spammers. Don’t be a spammer.
After you identify if its doing it or not. Then you know if you can completely disregard the keyword meta tag all together.
Ok so to sum up the content optimization.
Make sure you write high quality content that is geared towards solving your readers problem.
Make sure your selected keyword is in your post, but your keyword density is no higher than 2%. Any higher and you content is hard to read anyway.
Make sure your putting your keyword at the beginning of your title tag.
Make sure you title tag and description create your 30 second commercial for your website.
Content optimization really is that easy. And in due time your going to be doing it naturally and won’t even think about seo when creating your next masterpiece.
In the next section of the What Is SEO? series we are going to talk about backlinking. Your going to want to stick around for that one. I am going to giving you tons of resources to use to help you get the links. And more importantly we are going to go over ways to do it and keep your site in good graces with Google and Bing.
Until next time. Do share this post with a business associate or someone looking to get free traffic from the web. You may be saving them a lot of money and time. Wouldn’t it be great to be the hero?