(In part 1, we covered the prep work required to create a post that both the search engines and your readers will love. If you haven’t read that one, start with Create Posts That Engage Your Readers, Attract The Search Engines and Invite Comments – Part 1)
The next step in creating posts that attract the search engines is making sure you do two simple things. First, you KNOW your primary keyword. And second, that you use it in each of the 9 places Google and other search engines will be looking for it.
Repetition is the mother of knowledge.
Placing your primary keyword in each of the 9 locations I am about to cover ensures both you and Google are “on the same page” about what your content is about. It’s a way to validate it and teach Google about your niche.
The first area the search engines will look for an idea of what your content is about, is the browser title. This is NOT to be confused with the page title. I am talking about the very tippy-top of the browser window… the title area. Now, if you are using WordPress SEO and have it setup correctly, this will be handled for you. If not, go get an SEO plugin (WordPress SEO by Yoast is recommended, but All In One SEO can work too), install and setup.
Closer to the beginning of the browser title is the sweet spot. In fact, Google and other search engines either only look at the first 65 characters with an eye towards search engine optimization, or weight more heavily the first 65 characters. (And yes, my title is too long. I was gearing this title more towards the reader than the search engines).
Post URL (Or Page Slug)
The next place the search engines look for validation or clues about your content is your URL. This is the web address your page is located on. If you are writing web pages, this is the file name (and location). If you are blogging. this the page slug rendered down from your page title. You will see that three of the 9 areas come from your post (or page) title, so it’s important you get that one right!
The Internet has an OCD glitch when it comes to spaces in file names. Yeah, it might work this time, but don’t count on it working every time. So, WordPress will create a page URL based on the page title. It will remove any spaces and replace those with dashes.
So, “Eating Healthy On A Budget” becomes /eating-healthy-on-a-budget with the beginning part of this URL being your domain name and template for permalinks.
A couple of notes. It’s a good idea to keep your page url’s as short as possible, so install a plugin that will remove the non-keyword words like “the, and, of, can, etc”. I use SEO Post Link from MaxPressBlog.
The page title is called the page title, whether it’s a page or a post in your blog. This is the title of the post (or page). There are no special modifiers here so get this one right.
Like the browser title, the first 65 characters are the most important so your primary keywords should be up front. This should also (ideally) speak directly to the needs of your reader. Does it promise a result, prompt a question, provoke a response or otherwise engage the readers attention?
If you are taking the time to optimize for a keyword, you really need to make sure the keyword is used within the body of your content. Ideally, with a keyword density of about 5% (according to most SEO experts).
Personally, I think 5% reads a little like you are stuffing keywords, so if I am at 2%, I am a happy gal. However, I feel the need to explain that those that espouse 5% density, do so for a reason… it works to get you higher on the organic results pages.
Whether you choose 2%, 5% or somewhere in between, your keywords really should appear within the first 50 words of your content, and again within the last 50 words of your post.
Bear in mind, Google has billions of pages to crawl and index on any given day. Time is of the essence and when faced with a particularly heavy day, glitchy web pages or PMS, Google will “guess-ta-mate” based on the beginning and ending of your content.
Each web page on the Internet can and should contain a description of the content. An executive summary. An ad for the page. Remember, the page’s meta description will be used by Google when they display your entry in the search results (if it contains the keyword the searcher typed in).
Let’s be clear here… Google is trying to serve up your content to the searcher if it thinks your content is what they are looking for. To prove it, they will display a description that contains the keyword phrase the searcher is looking for. This means it’s vitally important you understand what your content is about, understand the keywords that will be used to find your content, and that you clearly define both in the title and description.
If your primary keyword is about eating healthy on a budget, but your description doesn’t contain they keyword, Google will make one up.
Yep, you read that right. Google will scan your page and bring back parts of the content. The parts that contain the keywords. Even if that means bringing in three partial sentences.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sound like an idiot, so I try not to give Google a reason to make one up for me.
Again, if WordPress SEO is setup correctly, this becomes a field you just edit while creating your post. I strongly recommend you spend a little time crafting the perfect description, bearing in mind, you only have 150 characters to make your case.
Keywords Meta Tag
This item is pretty far down the list, and many SEO exports will tell you that Google no longer even looks at this part (bunk), but I still feel it has it’s place. It might not be as important as it once was (thanks to black hat SEO’s stuffing 983 keywords into this poor little tag), but it still has an effect.
A few guidelines though. The keywords added to the keyword meta tag must have been used in the body of your content. Put a keyword in here that isn’t used in the content, and Google will think you are a moron and therefore can’t be trusted with sharp objects or helping them understand your content.
Again, I do NOT want Google making executive decisions about my content. I know my content better than Google, I just have to prove I know it better.
WordPress SEO by Yoast can provide an additional field at the bottom of each post that allows to you create a unique set of keywords. Optionally, you can set WordPress SEO to use your post tags as your keywords.
Image File Names
Believe it or not, this will help you slightly. If your post is about eating healthy on a budget, and the image you choose to go inside your post is a woman shopping frugally and choosing healthy foods, then naming the image with words that describe the image in a light that supports your keywords will help Google understand your content.
Just remember to replace spaces with dashes, rather than run all the words together. Naming the image eating-healthy-on-a-budget-shopping.jpg gets your keyword in the post a 7th time.
Image Title Attributes
The image tag has a special title attribute that will allow you to use your keyword again in a way that Google loves. The image title is what is displayed when someone hovers their mouse over an image. A good title is one that uses your keywords again, but also somewhat describes the image. For example: Shopping for healthy foods to eat while on a budget isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Image Alternate Text (Alt Tags)
The 9th and final place Google currently looks for help in understanding your content is the image alt tag. Originally created for the screen readers built for disabled web surfers, it’s goal is to allow you to describe the content. The screen reader will read to the disabled surfer.
So, an Alt Text of “photo of woman shopping for healthy foods to eat while on a budget both describes the photo accurately, but provides one more place for you to correctly insert your keywords.
Bonus Area – Image Captions
I don’t have any numbers on this spot, but it does add your keyword phrase once more in a way that Google will not see as keyword stuffing. I use the image title for the image caption to make things easy.
In case you hadn’t guessed by now, WordPress SEO allows you to control everything you need to build SEO attractive posts. Everything that WordPress doesn’t handle that is. Together, they are a perfect marriage in self-publishing content that attracts the search engines.