If you haven’t noticed this already, I’m a huge fan of search engine optimization. Why? Well first of all search engine traffic is the most targeted traffic you can generate to your website, and secondly it’s 100% free.
When you’re trying to rank in search engines it’s vital that you choose a specific keyword or keyphrase for which you want to get rankings. Every website you build, every page or blog post you publish must have a target keyword.
The first step in finding the keyword or keyphrase for which you want to rank is to perform a thorough keyword research.
Once you’ve found the keyword you want to target, the next step of the process is to make the webpage which will target the keyword as relevant as possible for your chosen term. This is called on-page keyword optimization and it’s the only part of SEO you will have full control of.
In this post I’m going to show you how you can optimize your pages for a target keyword.
But first let me show you some blog posts I published that climbed up the search rankings simply because of the proper keyword targeting:
- Target keyword: “tweet adder review” 2nd position on Google
- Word count: 1204 words
- Video embed: Yes
- Target keyword: “drive traffic to your blog” 2nd position on Google
- Word count: 1258 words
- Video embed: Yes
So both of these blog posts got over 1000 words and they both have a video embedded in them. The video part is something I noticed while I was doing searches for my keywords on Google and what I discovered is that posts which contained videos got higher rankings over time. I don’t think it’s a rule but it’s one of the similarities I discovered throughout my high ranking posts.
Okay, now let’s take a look at the keyword targeting process.
Keyword Optimization Overview
Keyword optimization is all about including your target keywords in specific parts of your webpage so that Google and other search engines will consider your page relevant for that particular keyword or keyphrase.
The URL of your page is the first location where you want to insert your target keyword. I suggest you keep the URL as short as possible. Shorter URLs are easier to remember and more likely to be copy/pasted and shared.
One other things is to position your keyword as close as you can to the root domain. For example ‘www.yoursite.com/target-keyword‘ is way better than ‘www.yoursite.com/category/target-keyword‘.
Make sure that the permalink settings on your WordPress blog is set to ‘Custom Structure’, this way when you’ve written in the title of your blog post inside the text editor WordPress will automatically create a permalink that is identical to the title. I suggest you take time to manually edit the permalink and remove unnecessary filler words like ‘the’, ‘to’,'is’,'you’, so that the permalink contains only the target keyphrase.
The keywords with the most SEO value are the ones that appear in the title of your page. I always try to come up with headlines where the keyword is positioned right at the beginning of the title. Of course this is not always the case.
Target Keyword: Tag Line
The title of you page is the bold text which appears in search engine results when you’re searching for a particular term.
If you want to rank for a specific keyword then it should definitely be in your title tag.
The Meta Description
The meta description is a short paragraph which describes what your page is about. The meta description shows up in search engine results right under the title of your page.
It’s a good idea to include your target keyword and a related keyphrase in it. Although the meta description does not affect your rankings it can definitely help the click-through rate.
All you need to do is to make sure that each page or blog post has a unique and compelling meta description.
The Meta Keyword Tag
It’s a well known fact that top search engines like Google and Bing completely ignore the keywords tag. I personally stopped using this tag on all of my websites simply because it holds no SEO value, and more than that it can giveaway valuable information to your competitors.
The H1 Heading
The H1 tag is the headline of your blog post or page. If you’re using WordPress, the H1 tag is most likely to be identical with the title tag of your page.
This way you can optimize the title tag for your chosen keyword and also create a compelling headline which attracts the visitors to your blog to click on it.
The H2/H3/H4 Headings
These are the subheadings of your page or your blog post. You should include your target keyword at least in one of these subheadings. Also you can use related terms that are relevant for your target keyword.
Even if you don’t include your target keyword in these headings, using them will allow you to break your posts into easy to digest paragraphs, definitely making them more scannable for your readers, improving the overall user experience.
The Body Text
Your target keyword along with related keywords should be spread across the body of your blog post.
My blog posts and pages have an average keyword density of slightly less than 1%. This also counting the keywords from the title, H1, H2 and other headings I use to structure my page.
It’s also very important that you use related terms and not only your target keyword. For example if you were targeting the keyword ‘SEO‘ a related term is ‘search engine optimization‘ which is basically the same thing.
One other thing I would like to mention here is that you should aim to include your target keyword in the beginning paragraph of your blog post or webpage.
Bold and Italic Usage
You should use your keyword in ‘bold‘ at least once within your page. The same thing goes for ‘italic‘.
Using these formatting tags for your target keywords along with other related terms will make your page more relevant for those keywords in the eyes of search engines.
Make sure you don’t get carried away with this, and as with every keyword optimization tactic you should always put the reader first.
The Image Filename
The filename of your image should look like this: ‘target-keyword.png’.
This will allow you to tap into image search traffic, and here is where the filename of your image holds real value.
Always make sure that when you’re downloading an image from Flickr or other image sharing sites, and you want to use it on your webpage to rename it so that it includes your target keyword.
The Image Alt Attribute
The alt attribute or the alt tag of your images is the only way to tell search engines what that image is about. As with the image filename the alt tag should contain the target keyword or a variation of that keyword.
Make sure you keep your image alt tag to 3 or 4 words and stay away from keyword stuffing.
The alt tag holds a lot of SEO value, that’s why I recommend you use images in all of your blog posts and pages.
Final Note on Keyword Optimization
There is one thing which I think is very important and I would like to point out, keyword optimization and keyword stuffing are to completely different things.
Always aim to use your target keyword only as much as it makes sense to use it.
You should always keep in mind user experience when optimizing your pages and blog posts.
With that said I’ve reached the end of my keyword optimization guide.
If you have other tips or strategies you might want to share I encourage you to leave a comment on this post. And if there is something I left out or I forgot to mention please let me know.