Have you ever searched for a specific term on Google (or any other search engine) and wondered how the company at the top of the search results got there? Well, it wasn’t by accident. It also isn’t as easy to score that top spot as you think.
When you search, you type in a specific word or phrase. That word or phrase is called a keyword. These are useful to know, because once you know exactly what people are searching for, you can use those keywords to drive your content. (For a deeper dive into keywords, check out this article by Moz.)
Defining your keywords is necessary for on-page optimization. But many people struggle with next steps: how do you use them? When it comes to on-page optimization, there are three things that you should focus on.
- Title Tags
One of the first steps to ensuring successful on-page optimization is creating effective title tags. Title tags are what Google shows as your page’s title to searchers (see our cupcake example to the right). It gives a preview, before people click through, to what’s on your page.
Target one main keyword or phrase per page. Your title tags should be descriptive and engaging; you want to draw potential visitors to your site. However, make sure that your title tags accurately represent the content of the page. Otherwise, visitors will “bounce” (leave immediately), a move Google will penalize you for.
Don’t forget, Google only shows a limited number of pixels for your title tags, so make sure they fit. Moz has a great free tool to help you find the optimal length.
Lastly, while having your main keyword included in your title tag is very beneficial for your optimization, you shouldn’t stuff your tag with keywords. Not only does keyword stuffing not look or feel natural to potential website visitors, but Google may mark your site as spam.
Your title tag should be editable within your website management system. Look for it where you update your content. If it’s not, ask your webmaster.
- Meta Descriptions
Used in conjunction with title tags are meta descriptions. While your title tag is the title of your page on a Google search page, the meta description gives you more space to “sell” your page to searchers.
Meta descriptions are used by potential visitors to decide which page to click on. They should help the searcher understand what your page is about, but also convince them to choose you instead of the competition. Keywords here don’t give your ranking any boost, so use whatever variants or re-phrasing you want (see our cupcake example to the right).
Like title tags, meta descriptions should be descriptive and concise, but they have a little more space. No more than 160 characters is usually recommended for metas, but Google frequently experiments with their length.
As with title tags, you can change your meta descriptions in your website management system.
While title tags and meta descriptions are crucial to having effective on-page optimization, the most important factor is your content. Your content is ultimately the reason why people are visiting your web page. Think about content as the backbone of your marketing. There is a reason “content is king”.
Make sure your content is descriptive and provides visitors with the information they need. Be sure that your main keyword or variations are used a few times, but, again, don’t keyword stuff. If your page is truly about your keyword, this should come without needing to artificially shove them in.
Once you have your title tags, meta descriptions and content in line with what you want to tell your audience, you’ll be able to start showing up in search results based around your target keywords.