Part one: Pleasing the Google Search Gods
It seems like the internet provides an endless supply of information on how to write content to help you reach more people. It can be overwhelming and time-consuming. How are you supposed to figure out what’s important and what’s not? In the end, there’s only two components that you should be focused on when creating content.
The first thing is conquering keywords. And that’s what this first post is about.
The algorithms Google uses to index websites and determine their authority on the web can be used in your favor. In this two-part post, I’ll explain all the basics you need to know to maximize your reach on the internet.
Get inside the head of your ideal customer.
What are they searching for?
What questions are they looking to answer when they’re searching in Google?
If you’re a pediatric doctor in Timbuktu, it’s pretty reasonable to assume that “Pediatricians in Timbuktu” is a good start. That example translates perfectly for any business. Yes, it’s that simple.
So what questions do you think your prospects will ask Google, to which you are the best answer? Share in the comments below, to help yourself and others!
Still not sure where to start? Switch up your perspective. Next time you look to the internet for something, watch the way you behave as a customer searching for an answer. When you stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a customer, you’ll be able to more clearly predict your prospect’s searches, and therefore, find the right keywords.
Create a list of all best keywords and phrases.
Now we know that customer’s searches are simply their questions. Using keywords is how successful companies anticipate them!
To determine what keywords work best, you can use a keyword research tool. Google has Adwords, that despite rumors of it disappearing remains widely used. There are also paid options such as Wordtracker.
Tools like these allow you to enter in a group of keywords and see how much search traffic they get. From there, create a list of the ones with the highest search volume, but the lowest competition. Viola!
You can then use those keywords to search in Google for their top matches. Type one into Google, and look at the first few pages. You can see how many times the specific keyword is used on the page, so you know how many times to include it. This will also give you a good idea of whether or not you’ve found truly relevant keywords. If you type in a keyword and it comes up with sites offering something entirely different, you know you need to change direction.
Tip: Google provides suggestions in the search bar based on what you’ve typed so far, and what shows up are the most popular searches. Not only can you use these to strengthen your keywords, but you can get valuable insights and ideas to write content around!
If there are no strong keywords that speak to a post topic that you think will be helpful for your readers, keep it! You may not get organic search traffic, but they’ll be good for sharing on social media.
Optimize for those keywords, by placing them neatly and strategically around your site.
Let me start by saying, keywords must be placed around the site in good taste. “Keyword stuffing” is not only frowned upon by Google, who will “punish” you by ranking your site lower, but if you do it at the expense of a grammatically correct sentence, most people will think your site looks sloppy and leave. It’s just not a good idea.
- Metadata tells search engines what the page is about. This is where you need to put your keywords. If you’re using WordPress, we recommend using All in One SEO Pack.
- Schema was rolled out in August by Google, and it’s designed to make your content more SEO friendly. It’s a great update, because Bing and Yahoo have agreed to use it as well! And I know if you’re like me, somewhere you wondered in the back of your mind if you should be optimizing for those search engines too. Now you can put your mind to rest!
Here’s a guide to All in One SEO Pack:
1: Title Section
- This section is just as important as the headline. It is the keyword-rich title that shows up for your page in search results.
- Has to be less than 70 characters.
- We suggest adding your biggest keyword here, where it’s most important.
- This is what appears on search engine results pages (SERPS) under the title.
- Has to be less than 160 characters.
- We recommend adding two or three keywords or phrases to this section that are consistent with the title.
- Whatever keywords you specifically used on that page, enter them here.
- With the recent update to Google’s algorithms, they probably don’t put too much weight on these anymore, but fill in the form anyway. It’s never a bad idea.
Optimizing the headline and body
- This draws readers in when they get to your site and begin to read. You can add one or two keywords/phrases for consistency.
- You want it to be a slightly shorter, reader-friendly version of the search engine friendly title and description.
- Make sure to use the same few keywords throughout to get the best results!
Body of post (500-700 words)
- Under 500 words Google doesn’t pay much attention, so make sure your posts are always longer, but not longer than…
- 700 words, or you may have too much information to keep your reader’s attention.
But there are exceptions!
For example, I average around 1500 words per post. But, I’m going into great depth and detail creating how-to action guides. For this post, I decided to split it into two parts to make sure I add in enough detail for my readers, but that it isn’t so long that it creates information overload.
- For posts 700-2,000 words, break up into parts or pages, and
- For posts 2,000-5,000 words Google is now looking at in depth content, and taking this into account when determining authority.
With these changes, older articles don’t get moved to a deeper search result page with time. As long as they are in depth and still relevant, or “evergreen”, they will keep their rank. We’ll get into this more in part two.
Just remember…working with Google is like working with a client or customer – with specific needs and processes – you’re on the same team. Work together for ultimate success.
- Make sure your site’s architecture is going to support your content.
- Use WordTracker or AdWords to determine the best keywords for your site.
- Optimize for them, and watch the results in analytics! You can always adjust your keywords later.