Landing Page Optimization
The more spots on the page that your primary keyword appears in, the more convinced Google is of the page’s relevancy to that SEO keyword.
In step three, we’ll cover the essential locations for your keywords, both on the page directly and in the peripheral elements.
In order to maximize the value of your SEO Optimization efforts, make sure to place keywords in your:
1. Body Copy
3. Page Title
4. Meta Description
Keyword Placement and SEO Optimization
Too little use of the primary keyword in the copy, and your efforts to optimize the remaining locations for it won’t count for nearly as much.
Too much, and you could trip search engines’ spam alarms.
The ideal is to write 300 words or more of copy per page, and use the primary keyword two to three times in the opening paragraph (earlier is better because search engines read top-to-bottom and left-to-right, just like people), but err on the side of less if you would have to compromise the text’s natural tone to reach that density.
Supporting keywords can be used more freely, and the copy should include exactly as many as will naturally fit.
Headings and Subheadings
These are the tags that appear as “headlines” of varying size on the page. They are rendered with HTML tags in a hierarchy of H1 through H6, and you should use them as needed to indicate the start of a new page section.
Think of a term paper outline, as by all accounts this was the model used when these tags were codified: the H1 heading is analogous to the title of the paper, and the H2 and-below tags act as “chapter headings” for sub-sections corresponding to lower levels of depth.
Accordingly, tag the title of the piece as an H1 tag and place your primary keyword in it (if at all possible), and integrate supporting keywords into subheadings where you can.
In spirit, the page title is similar to the H1 tag in that it’s meant to contain a single statement that sums up the core idea.
The difference between the H1 tag and the page title lies in how we encounter the two; the H1
tag is what displays at the top of the page itself, and the page title is what shows on search results pages.
This second forum is the one we need to write to, as the page title will serve there as a call-to-action for users inspiring them to click through (any keywords that a user queries that appear in the page title of a search result will show there in bold).
We must therefore write page titles to the strict formal constraints of a search results page: they must not exceed 55 characters in length, must include the page’s primary keyword, and must place
their descriptive, keyword-loaded component before any brand identifier.
The meta description appears only on search results pages, as the short snippet right below the page title (usually in blue hyperlinked text) and URL.
Words in a meta description that match words in a search query will also show in bold, so the meta description, like a page title, is most valuable as a call-to-action.
These should be written as fully composed statements (a complete sentence or two), should limit themselves to 120 characters or less, and should also include the page’s primary keyword.
The URL itself is the very first page element that a crawler sees, and as such is another very useful location for a primary keyword.
Use the primary keyword here if you can, and separate all words in a URL using hyphens, not underscores. Search engines read hyphens as spaces, but read underscores as letters, which means they would read an underscore-separated URL as one long, meaningless word.
In SEO’s storybook past, there was no such thing as too much keyword use. So great was the trust that the primitive early search engine algorithms placed in the web that they believed every word on a webpage to be sincere and substantive.
- Once upon a time, the more you used a keyword on a page, the more relevant search engines believed that page to be to that keyword;
- Once upon a time, there was no hard limit to how many keywords a single page could be considered relevant to;
- Once upon a time, words highlighted with bold and italics were sincerely trusted to be of greater relative importance than their surrounding words;
- Once upon a time, a special meta tag existed — called “meta keywords” — that search engines innocently suggested sites use to inform them directly as to what keywords they felt were most relevant to the page.
That time has passed and none of these conditions hold true anymore.
It took about five seconds before this trust was abused by spammers running junk sites that paid them on the basis of ad views, and the web became cluttered with pages that were nothing but wall-to-wall keywords, all of them unrelated to one another and chosen for their search volume alone, and all of
them bolded, italicized, and reproduced in the meta keywords tag.
Before long, a whole industry had sprung up around tricking the web’s searchers into looking at a worthless page, and the search engines cried, “This is why we can’t have nice things!”
It took years before the algorithms managed to make inroads against these spammers and save search users from the daily experience of wading through a sea of scam artists’ pages before finding one of actual value.
Now, if anything, the search engine algorithms are overzealous in their fight against spam; consequently, it’s become downright dangerous to overemphasize a keyword because search engines are so inclined to see the choice as a deliberate effort to curry their favor.
There are tales in the last few years (since Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithms of 2011 and 2012, respectively) of well-liked and well-meaning sites incurring a penalty for overusing a keyword on the page, for constructing their domain name around a keyword, or for boasting a suspiciously large number of backlinks with keyword-rich anchor text.
“Guilty until proven innocent” has now become the search engine’s default perspective on pages suspected of so-called “over-optimization”, and as a result, SEO practitioners advise their clients to err on the side of less.
This is meant purely as a word of caution and certainly should not be construed as negating the volume of keyword advice that came before.
It is only to emphasize the value of quality writing over all other page properties, and the deployment
of keywords in a surgically careful, thoroughly natural-sounding way.
If you have any doubts about your keyword density, consult an SEO professional, as the matter remains more an art than a science.
Remember the three steps: choosing your keywords, refining your list of keywords, and placing your keywords optimally.
If you follow the tips above for all three and never let yourself lose sight of your human audience throughout the process, you can be sure that search engines will love your page as much as your readers do.