Now that you know your keywords it is time to write some content around those keyword, or optimize existing content for the keywords. This is called on-site SEO, if you are working page by page it is referred to as on-page SEO. As part of the process you will need to alter some code to include schema mark up, and change the meta tags. However, if you use WordPress there is an array of plugins that you can use to get it done without tampering with the code. Right now, it’s time to write some amazing content.
Writing your content
Before you start, just go ahead and pop your keyword into Google search. Look at the top ranking site, this gives you a bench mark as to what is needed.
Use your keyword research
Before you go any further it is a good idea to do the following:
- Group your keyword into topics, some will be long tail variations of others and can be used within the same piece of content.
- Take note of the top ranking sites content, does it use a lot of images? How long is the content? How is the content written?
- Now ask yourself how you can add something unique into the mix that is better than what is already at the top.
On-site SEO allows you to turn those keyword lists into content, something that will be unique and very useful to the searcher.
What you should avoid when developing your content
First and foremost you are writing content to answer or solve the searchers question or problem. You are not writing content to get traffic from the search engines alone, it is done to help people.
Low quality thin content: Creating a lot of content for every keyword even if they are related will not cut it these days. The end results needs to be something that will help the search engine user, do not publish a lot of content that is not different. Google addresses low quality thin content with the Panda update, dropping URLs from the index that have the same content as others. One amazing piece of in depth content is much better than many pages of thin content.
Duplicate content: Content that has been copied across the same site or from one site to another will not be indexed, if it is, it won’t stay in the SERPs long. The same data does not need to be published over and over again, that it pointless. You need to make sure you add some value to anything that is already out there. There are reasons why content may be used more than once, Google encourages the use of a rel=canonical tag to point to the first version of the content on the web. A website will not get penalized for having duplicate content, it just means the page with the duplicate content is unlikely to index and show in the SERPs. Think about it, news sites publish the same article on the web, they have not been penalized.
Cloaking: Do not attempt to hide anything for the search engines, the crawlers must see what the visitors see. Do not hide text in the code that visitors can’t see but the bots can, this will hinder your rankings. The search engines will stop pages with cloaking from being indexed, unless it has been done to help the visitor.
Keyword stuffing: The key is to write naturally, you will use the keyword as you go when you do this. The page does have to have the keyword on it, but it must be within context of the flow of words, it has be natural and not sound like generated content.
Generated content: There are many tools out there to generate content, this content is normally grammatically incorrect and will not make sense in places. You can spot generated a content a mile off, the search engines can too. There are tools these days that generate amazing content, but you must know that this goes against the Google quality guidelines and if you want to future proof your website from ranking losses simply don’t use it.
If you have no ideas then write a lot more content than the competition
Google tries to put the best content most relevant to the search term at the top of the SERPs, if you offer long well written in-depth content it is highly likely to be shared and liked around the net, and the chances of getting a top ranking increase significantly.
Here is an easy way to develop great content:
- Google your keywords
- Take note of the top ranking sites
- Read the content to determine why it ranks high
- Create a more in depth piece of content
It is well worth putting in the effort writing great content for the right keyword, be sure to establish how much your keyword is worth as shown in the last chapter, this will motivate you to get the job done.
There is no set amount of words that you must write, but you can give yourself a clue by looking at the content on the top site. You should offer something unique, the length should be what is required to answer the users query.
Remember that you can re work existing content on your website, this will save you time and effort.
NAP mentions for local content
If you have a business be sure to keep your NAP data (Name, Area, Phone Number) consistent on your site. This will normally be located on the websites header, footer, and sometimes on the sidebar. You will also want to use this information in the code as the local business schema mark up. We will look at this in more detail later on in this chapter.
If your business operates over many locations it is a good idea to use a different page on your site for each one. Each page will be optimized for each location including the NAP details and also a Google Map Embed.
Local – national – international
Each and every business is different and may operate locally, some will be national, while other are international. Take Rankers Paradise as an example, we offer SEO services. They are not fixed service to one area, anyone in the world can benefit from them, we operate on an international level.
On the other hand, a cake shop would operate in their local area and would have a brick and mortar store in that area. They would include their NAP across all their web pages as suggested above.
After you have your in-depth content completed there are a few things that still need to be done. Let’s dive into that right now:
Optimize your content for the search engine
After you have created some amazing content you then need to add the finishing touches, these will help the search engines know what to list as your page title and description in the SERPs.
These are the headings that are used on your page, the main heading at the top is know as the H1 tag, you work your way down the page using small heading ranging from H2 right down to H6. The most commonly used heading tags are H1, H2, and H3.
Your page will tipically have 1 H1 tag, it will have any number of H2 and H3 tags. If you use WordPress the H1 tag will be generated on auto pilot and it will be taken from the page title.
You must put your main focus keyword into the H1 tag. For correct mark up code try to avoid using heading tags anywhere else on the website other than in the pages body content. For example, do not use a H1 tag for a navigation button or on text in the footer of your website.
The headings will be used to direct the flow of your content, they will help guide the reader, especially with long content, most users tend to skim over content and the headings help them find the parts they need quickly.
Heading tags are a small part of on-page SEO, however they should not be overlooked, or overused. Stuffing keyword into these tags will not help and can hinder your rankings. Be sure to have your main keyword in the H1 tag and another H2 to H6 tag.
As we have already discussed as part of chapter 2, internal links help the search engine crawl spiders find and index your content. These internal links help the visitor find other content on your site, and from an SEO point of view they also pass juice around the site, this juice comes from backlinks. The text you use within the link “anchor text” also send a signal to the bot what your page is about.
It is good to note that links from a drop down menu may be hidden from a search engine, so it is important to add links within your body content to ensure all your pages are found by the search bots.
The text used within a link is known as the anchor text, this send a signal to the bot what the content is about. If your main keyword is plumbing SEO then that is what you would us as the anchor text to link to that page.
Number of links on a page
As part of the Google Webmaster Guidelines they state it is good practice to limit the number of links on a page. More than 100 links on a page is a lot, so make sure the links are there for a reason and not to manipulate rankings in any way.
The backlinks that point to a page give it juice, this is it’s rank equity. This juice is passed on when links are placed on that page, so the more links you have the more ranking power is lost. With that in mind, only link when it is really necessary.
If a user lands on a web page that is littered with links they will feel overwhelmed and will either leave the page right away or just follow a random link to never be seen on your site ever again. The links are there to help the user, too many of them will confuse the user and really annoy them.
You may decide to move some content to a new URL, if you do, ensure the links that pointed to the old page now go to the new one. A redirect can be used, but too many of them could get you in trouble with the search bots. The new content might not be found and indexed if that is the case.
You can also have the images load after the words on a slow load feature, you can find plugins to do this for you without any hassle if you are running your site on WordPress.
The Alt text also known as (alternative text) is used as a tag in the code to describe to the search engines and visually impaired people what the image is. It’s also good practice to have your main keyword in one image alt tag on the page, but make sure it is appropriate and do not stuff the keywords in them everywhere on the page, this will not help at all.
To help Google bot discover and index all your images you can submit an image sitemap in your Google Webmaster Tools account.
Formatting for readability & featured snippets
Doesn’t matter how good your content is if it is not presented and formatted in a goog readable way. To improve formatting and readability follow this:
- Text format: Stay away from loading external fonts, it will slow down your page load times. Also, look at the size of the font, is it too small, is it easy to read? Why do you hardly every see a web page with a black background and white writing? Because it is much more difficult to read than a white background and dark writing. Only bold and italic font when it is needed, highlight important points, do not do it too often.
- Headings: Most web surfers skim over pages, the best way to help them find what they need quickly is to use clear headings. This breaks up the page and makes reading your content much easier.
- Lists: Bullet points and numbered lists can help the reader process the information faster. Remember that most users will skim read your content, this will help them do that.
- Paragraphs: Try not to have really long paragraphs, keep them short and precise, this helps the readers skim and find what they need as soon as possible.
- Media: Including too many images and videos will slow down load times, use them where you think they are absolutely necessary.
The body format also affects if your content will appear in the SERPs as a featured snippet. Using bullet points and numbered lists helps you enhance your chances of appearing in the zero spot of the SERPs.
Meta Title tags
The title tag is a code element in the head section that is the title for the web page or document, this is also the title that is shown in the SERPs.
To improve rankings the title tag must clearly describe the content, using emotional words can help click through rates from the SERPs, but this should be done appropriately. If you fail to mislead searchers, bounce rates will be high as searchers will leave your site and go back to the SERPs and in return pushing down your rankings.
What makes a really good title tag?
- Keywords: Putting your keyword into the title tag helps with rankings, helps users, and the search engines know what your page is about. Have your main focus keyword at the start of the tag for higher visibility.
- Size: The search engines will only display a set amount of words in the SERPs, this is around 50 to 60 characters or up to 512 pixels. If you go beyond this you will see “…” instead of the words. It’s good to stay within the limits, if you can’t then it’s good to know it will not harm your rankings.
- Brand: As a nice way to build your brand up it is good to end your title tag with your name. As your brand becomes more well know it will definitely improve click through rates also.
Meta Description tags
Just like the title tag, the description tag is also a code element in the head section of your page. The description tag will show underneath the title tag in the SERPs.
Sometimes Google will not always use your meta description, it will take some words from your page content in place of it. This is done to ensure the description is more relevant to the searchers query.
What makes a really good description tag?
Although it is stated the description tags do not play a part in rankings, they actually do, because they influence click through rates, so having your keyword in them is important.
- Relevant: Make sure the description is completely relevant to the content on your page, if not Google will use some content from your page itself. Use some emotional words to heighten the searchers intent to click, but make sure you leave enough details out so they have to click on your listing to have their problem solved.
- Size: The description should be anything up to 155 characters in length, the absolute max length would be 300 characters.
This is going to be the address of your new content, it is good practice to keep your URLs as show as possible to keep them neat. These will influence rankings in a small way, so ensure you use your keywords in there. The search engines do show your URL in the SERPs, having the keyword noticeable will help your click through rates.
If your page title, descriptions, URLs are clear and concise and include your keywords you are on a good path to ranking success. This helps the search bots and the searchers understand what your content is about.
It is not good practice to target the same keyword over many different URLs, so keep your URLs and focus keywords logged, this is much more relevant to larger sites. Targeting the same keyword across a few different URLs on the same site can confuse the search bots and sometimes it can results in neither page be indexed or ranked.
If you have a lot of content on your site focused around the same subject it is a good idea to nest them in relevant folders and avoid putting them into folders that are completely irrelevant.
This will help the user and the search engines know the type of content and the topic. Putting dates in the URL is something here at Rankers Paradise we do not recommend. This can sometimes put users and search engines off as it can over time be out dated. Google and the users like fresh content, so don’t make the mistake of putting them off by using a date in the URL extension.
Remember that searchers prefer shorter URLs, long URLs will be cut off in the SERPs just like meta title and description tags. Also, try and avoid using numbers and symbols in the URLs and ensure all letters are done in lower case, it looks neater and it makes it easier to share the URLs online.
Remember to have your keywords in the URL extension, if you are going after local keywords then be sure to have the location in there too.
Google prefers websites to have an SSL certificate and have a secure website under HTTPS rather than HTTP. This ensures there is less chance of fraudulent activity and will also help keep the web users details safe. This is said to be a ranking factor, sites with https have a better chance of top rankings over sites without them. This does not cost a lot to put in place, so make sure you do it now at the start.
If you have been reading the entire starter SEO guide you are now past the half way point, so well done on that, I hope you have been taking it in.