You know that search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of your marketing strategy, you know how to choose effective keywords, and you’ve learned how to revamp your website for a good audience experience. Now, it’s time to learn how to tie your keyword choices into your SEO strategy and website user experience.
Google and other search engines look at a few major features when crawling your website, and the clearer these features are, the better chance you have of ranking well on a search engine results page (SERP).
What Do Search Engines Look For?
While every search engine is different, they operate in similar ways: search engines read your website in order to learn what’s on it and determine whether your site should show up on SERPs for certain keywords. When a search engine sees that your site uses keywords effectively, it knows that your site will be useful to people searching for those keywords. Therefore, your site is more likely to show up in search queries.
Ideally, each page on your site should use specific keywords in specific places so search engines will see them: the title tag, the meta description, the header, and image metadata. Choose one main keyword to include in these parts of your site so that you aren’t competing against yourself to rank for different keywords.
On a SERP, the title tag is the main line of blue text that is a link directly to your site. The title tag should include the keyword and your location, if applicable. Generally, title tags are displayed by the pixel, not by character count, but 65 characters is a good parameter to stay inside.
Use title case for title tags (it’s in the name!). If there’s room in the character limit, you can add your company name. In addition to SERPs, the title tag will appear on the browser tab when that page is open, which helps people easily come back to your site when they have multiple browser tabs open.
When adding a page to your site, the Title of the page refers to this title tag.
The meta description appears just below the title tag on the SERP. Here, you can give readers a quick overview of what that page covers. The meta description should also include the keyword. Meta descriptions can be up to 230 characters, but most search engines will only display up to 156 characters. This is enough for a sentence or two to draw readers to your site.
When adding a page to your site, the Description of the page refers to this description that will appear on the SERP.
While the title tag and meta description are designed to be seen on a SERP, your website header is visible on the site itself. The keyword and location information in the header tell a search engine that this page is about this keyword.
You may use the word “header” to refer to the banner image of your site that shows your company name and logo, but that’s just one type of website header. When it comes to page optimization, the header (or h1) is a line of code that designates text as the headline of that page. Search engines will look for the keyword within this code.
On some site builders, the title and header will be the same. As long as you include the keyword and meet character requirements, you’re good to go!
Search engines can’t see what an image is about unless you tell them. An image’s metadata should describe the image using your chosen keyword so that search engines know what that image is of. This shows the search engine that even the images on your site are related to the keywords you want to rank for.
When you add an image to your site, you’ll usually be given the option to add a title, a caption, and what’s known as alt text. This is where you should add your brief description of the image that includes the keyword.
How Do I Get Started?
If your site isn’t optimized very well, start with your homepage. Choose a good keyword to represent your brand and use it in the title tag, meta description, header, and image alt text on your homepage. From there, you can start to optimize other pages of your site. Use service-focused keywords on your services page, or brand-focused keywords on an “About Us” page.
When you know where to use keywords for maximum effectiveness on your site, you can start to build a site that Google and other search engines will recognize as a useful, authoritative site. Your site will be more likely to appear on search engine results pages, leading to more clicks and conversions for your brand.