I’m going to let you in on an on-page SEO secret:
It’s important to know where to put your keywords when you’re optimizing a web page.
It matters a heck of a lot, and if you do it properly, it’ll only help. It’ll show search engines like Google that your page contains content useful for people who are searching for a particular keyword and that your page is relevant to this keyword.
So, where the heck do you place your keyword?
A few different places, my friend. All of them matter—some perhaps a little more than others—but they definitely all matter.
Keep this in mind as you continue reading.
Touch up your title tags
This is perhaps one of the most important places to slip in your target keyword.
And not only do you want to place your target keyword in your page’s title—you also want to do it properly.
If you’re going to optimize your page title for SEO, try placing your target keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible. If, for some reason, you need to have multiple keywords or phrases in your title tag, separate them with a pipe.
What is a pipe?
This symbol: |
Believe it or not, pipes matter. Did you know that they tell search engines that the keywords or phrases in your page’s title are equally important?
If you didn’t, you do now.
Refrain from using a dash or hyphen ( – ) to separate keywords, as hyphens only serve as connectors rather than separators that communicate the importance of keywords and phrases to search engines.
It’s not a good idea to use commas, either. To a search engine, words after a comma are as ignored as a dead body hidden on page two of Google search results.
With placing keywords anywhere, remember not to stuff your title tags chock full of keywords. Most search engines only display the first 50-60 characters of your title tag, so cramming your title with unnecessary keywords is a terrible idea.
Optimize your URLs
Keep your URL short and sweet—but place your target keyword in it, too.
Have you ever noticed that, when you search for a keyword and when said keyword appears in a page’s URL on a Google SERP, the keyword is bolded?
Google knows—so placing keywords in your URL makes your page seem all the more important and relevant when people search for that keyword.
As with the title tag, keep your keyword as close to the beginning of the URL as you can. If there will be multiple words in your URL, separate them with dashes. In a URL, dashes are particularly SEO-friendly compared to other symbols like question marks and ampersands.
A long and convoluted URL (like this made-up URL: http://www.example.com/134592834?p=this-is-a-really-long-url/P89RTN2/82457&r=123-potato-latkes/when-will-it-end.html) doesn’t clearly indicate where your URL might lead search engines and users. Besides that, how is someone supposed to know if a URL like this is relevant to the keyword they’re searching for?
So keep it simple: short, sweet, and SEO-friendly.
Place keywords in your content
Of course you want to place your keyword in your content! You want search engines to know that your page is relevant to the keyword you want to rank for.
So make sure you include it in your page’s body content.
Now, this doesn’t mean “cram your keyword into your body content as much as you can.”
We’re not supporting keyword stuffing here—and neither should you.
No, you want your body content to read naturally while you still mention this keyword. If you want to rank for the keyword “organic cat food,” for example, you’re not going to write something like the following:
“Buy organic cat food. Click now to purchase organic cat food. We are all about organic cat food and provide only the best organic cat food for all your organic cat food needs.”
Trust me: Google can tell when you’re keyword stuffing. The practice will only dig you into a deeper hole, so don’t do it. Include your keyword, but write your content so it flows naturally. Use your keyword a few times, but don’t stuff it repeatedly into your content.
If you do, you run the risk of your readers hitting the “back” button on their browser because they can’t take your obnoxious, headache-causing, vomit-inducing content.
Maximize your Meta Description
Your web page’s meta description appears under the link to your page on a SERP. It’s that little blurb of description–it might contain a snippet of the content on your page, or you can customize it yourself so you have control over what appears.
In other words, your meta description is the sales pitch that convinces people reading SERPs to click on your link.
Since this is the case, then you can imagine that it would be pretty important to include your target keyword in your meta description.
Similarly to content, it’s not wise to keyword stuff your meta description. As you want it to be well-written and convincing enough to get someone to click on your link, it needs to be appealing. It needs to show search engines and people that your page is relevant to your target keyword.
Unlike content, however, meta descriptions are short. You have up to 160 characters to make that pitch, so don’t even think about wasting characters by keyword stuffing.
The locations of your target keyword on your web pages are vital to on-page SEO. Make sure you’re placing your desired keywords in the correct places. Your target keyword should go in your title tag, your URL, your content, and your meta description–but don’t scare potential readers away with keyword stuffing. The practice is far more harmful than helpful.
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