What do you do if you want to start ranking for a word on Search Engines? Let’s say you’re selling “ Incan matrimonial head masks” and you want to get on the first page of Google for “Incan head masks”? Where do you start?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting yourself to rank high on Google for certain keywords (as I’m sure most of you already know). As a philosophy we teach in our SEO classes at AstroLabs, there are 4 areas that you need to focus on, known as the SEO Pyramid.
Those areas being:
- Technical: Having to do with Indexing and your site’s technical setup
- Content: Having mostly to do with the keywords on the page
- Links: Having to do with the number of external sites that are linking back to you
- Social Media: Using Social Media (especially Google products like My Business and the Knowledge Graph)
In the article, we’ll be covering the second area Content, mainly where to put your keywords on your website if you want the search engine to pick them up.
Before we dive into where to put your keywords, you have to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting are the one’s that people are actually searching for. To do this, you should use Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner, to check the search volume and competition for the words you want to rank for. A good rule of thumb (especially for a startup), is to target words that are relevant for your business, have a “high-ish” search volume, and that aren’t that competitive.
Let’s just assume for the sake of this exercise that I’m confident in the keywords that I want to rank for (“Incan head masks” or whatever else). So what do I do? How can I go about updating my website copy, so that I rank for that term?
To simplify it, there are basically 6 places that I need to place that keyword on my site if I want to rank for that keyword. Those places are:
- Page Title: This is what the user sees as the Title of each search result, and on the Tab of their browser when they’re on the page. This serves the purpose of being bolded when a user searches for that term (which increases Click Through Rate — CTR).
- Meta Description: This is the main section a user sees when they search for something that comes under the Page Title in Google. While this doesn’t have a direct ranking on SEO for content, like the Page Title it does help improve CTR by being bolded if the term is listed here, and can be attractive as a call to action.
The Page Title & Meta Description are not found directly on the content when a user goes to a site, they are only defined in the source code. To see an example of how the Page Title & Meta Description are displayed on the Search Engine Result page, check out a SERP Preview Tool.
3. H1 — Main Header Tag: This is probably the most overlooked element when people are doing content SEO. This is the header tag on the top of a website. It’s often confused with the Page Title, but the main difference is the Page Title is not seen on the page by the user (it’s seen on the Search Engine Results Page, and on the tab when the user is on the site).
The H1 Main header tag is seen by the user on the page, and is very important for SEO, as it helps the Search Engine determine what the site and page are about that are being indexed.
How do you make a part of your website content be the main header? Simply add the <H1> tag to surround the element that you want to be your main header.
You should only have 1 <H1> per page! If you want more sub-headers, make the <H2> or <H3>.
Although usually adding an <H1> tag to your page, makes it appear larger and might not fit with your design. You can always hardcode how you want your <H1> tag to look like using CSS to customize it’s size, color and font.
4. Page Content: This is the main section of your website, where the meat of your content is. In this section, it’s important to add the keyword that you want to rank for to be mentioned at least once. Although you can mention it more if you feel it’s relevant, it’s important not to “keyword stuff” (mention the keyword too many time unnecessarily) as search engines could pick that up and penalize you.
5. URL: This is the URL of the page. Ideally, you should try to have your keyword be as follows yoursite.com/keyword, but if that’s not possible (for example on the homepage), then you can skip this step (read till the end for the Ghost page tip on this).
6. Image Title & Alt Description: Another often overlooked element of SEO, are the images that are uploaded onto a site. For SEO purposes, when you upload an image, you should:
a) Name the image properly. For example, if you’re uploading your logo, don’t just upload a logo with an image name “logo-version1”, but call it “ Your Company Name Logo”.
b) Add an “alt” tag to your image. This is an attribute you add inside the HTML <img> tag of your image and mention what the image is about (it’s recommended to describe the image as if you’re describing it to a blind person). An example of this is if you upload a picture of a blue sky, you would add the alt attribute something like “Cloudy Blue Sky in Dubai”.
Once you have your keyword in place, you’ll be on your way to rank for that word. Keep in mind though, you’ll have to work on a lot of other elements for SEO (technical, other content considerations, link building etc.) but it’s a good start!
? Ghost Pages
Ok wait, but what are these “ghost pages” I mentioned in the title? Ok, so let’s first define what I mean by “Ghost pages”. A ghost page is basically a page that is not directly related to the navigation of your site (you don’t list it on your menu navigation, and it technically doesn’t have a parent page), but a user can still reach it by searching for that term on a search engine, and arrive to that page.
An example of this is let’s say that I am selling “Incan head masks”, and I realize through using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool, that there is a more frequently searched term (let’s say “Inca masks”) that I want to rank for my business. Well, I could change my main pages, so that they match the term, or I could leave my site the way it is (since I may want to still rank for the main terms I already have on my website), but also create a “ghost page” that targets the more frequently searched for word.
In that case, I could have a page on my site that a user will only find when they do a Google search. For example, mysite.com/inca-masks, and put the term “Inca masks” in all the 6 places I mentioned above.
This is a perfectly legal “white hat” SEO technique to use, but you should be mindful of the following:
- The “ghost page”, should still be a page that a user find benefits in. It should be user-friendly and have an end goal (for example, take them to a place where they can buy a product/contact you).
- If you just duplicate a page and change a couple of words, it could be marked as duplicate content by Google, which might be penalized. To avoid this, make sure any pages you create have unique and valuable content for the user.
- Avoid “keyword stuffing”. Don’t have the word that you want to rank for too often if it’s not relevant and doesn’t make sense.
If you are mindful of those caveats, I found that this technique can help you rank for many words that are relevant to your site!
Did you find this post helpful? If so, check out our upcoming in-person full week immersive Digital Marketing track, where we go over not just SEO, but all channels needed to develop an effective comprehensive digital marketing strategy! http://astrolabs.com/academy/digital-marketing/