Getting found in search takes more than just writing and publishing blogs. While content may be King, SEO is Queen, and we all know the Queen is really in charge. If you want your content to rank well and engage your users, optimizing your pages is a must.
In the video below I’ll share some basic best practices for optimizing your site pages for search. While some of the elements are technical, they can be accomplished by nearly every site owner. If you are interested in learning more about SEO, and how to practically apply it to your site, check out my course Simplified Search here.
Hey everybody, welcome to Hack My Growth. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about the anatomy of an optimized website page or blog post. Now optimizing your site for search is essential to be found by people looking for the information that you’re providing. All right. Let’s go.
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Today we’re going to be talking about search engine optimization, and more specifically, technical aspects of SEO and how we can optimize our pages for search and our users. An important thing to make sure we’re doing when we’re optimizing our site is to make sure that we’re optimizing it for both groups: both the search engines and the users. Our content is extremely important, but if it’s not optimized, it’s not going to rank, and it’s also not going to convert.
When we’re talking about a web page, a website page could be broken down into three areas. We’ve got our header, our body, and our footer. Now your header is a very important part of the page.
Inside that header bracket, you’re going to have things like your title tags, and your open graph tag, which helps optimize your site for social sharing, and social links. Make sure you have the right kind of images and the description that you want to show up on Facebook and Twitter and Google+, and there are other platforms.
You’re also going to have your meta information inside your header. This is where you’re going to add your description, maybe your keywords if you want to use those, but it’s also where you’re going to add some other scripts as well. Your Google Analytics tracking script is also going to be inside the header of your website page.
Now moving down is our body, and this is where most of the content is placed. This is where people are interacting with your blog post or your web content, and here is where you want to optimize your page more than other places, and there are a lot of different things that we can do to optimize inside of that body.
We’ve got content, we’ve got multimedia, so we’ve got images, but we’ve also got videos, other pieces of content that we can optimize. We’ve got links, now that includes both links internally to other pages of your site, as well as adding some of those outbound links to other sites. Now you may seem, like, “What? I don’t want to send people to other pages,” but there’s a trick to using outbound links and it’s really important to use them, and we’ll get to those in just a minute.
You also want to add your markup here. This is where you can use schema markup, whether you’re marking a text or content, we like to use JSON-LD. It’s just a little bit more descriptive, and it’s easier to implement. You can add it to your page and drop it, and specifically for the search crawlers, to better understand the context of the information you’re giving them. There are a couple of cool tools, and I’ll make sure to link to the tool that allows you to create that markup that you can just copy and paste into the code of your body.
If a searcher, a crawler, has to continue to ping your site and it’s not getting the information it needs, it’s going to leave and not crawl the rest of your site because it’s too slow. You want to make sure that you’re optimized for speed as well.
Let’s take a little bit of a deeper dive into a website page. We’ve sketched one out here, kind of top to bottom, and that’s how a crawler is going to be reading your site; from top to bottom. Now, up here in the top of the bar, you’re going to see the title tag of your site. This is what is going to be in that title bracket. Now when you’re optimizing a title, use your keyword, use your main keyword that you’re trying to focus on. If you want to add your brand, that’s fine, but just add it to the end of your title tag. Right underneath that, we’ve got our URL.
Now we want to make sure that our URL is descriptive but also short. Now a lot of people have these really long URLs because they’re trying to add keywords or maybe they’re just not thinking about it, and they’re just having their title tag be their URL string. Well, that’s bad for a couple of reasons.
One, it’s really hard to share. If somebody just wants to say, “Hey. Go to www.mysite.com/seo to check out this information.” Well if you’ve got /seotoolsfromanseoagency, it’s not easy to share, it’s not easy to say, it’s kind of annoying. Another reason is the crawlers like and prefer shortened URLs. Shortened URLs typically rank better, and there are a number of studies that have proven that.
Now as we come down a little bit, you’ve got your navigation. One of the things that’s helpful from a user perspective, and optimization, it’s not necessarily going to earn a lot of brownie points with the crawlers, although it also helps them, is adding some breadcrumbs to your top.
Maybe home/ the page you’re on, and what that does, it allows the user to know where they are on your website and where they can go to find other relevant information. It is also helpful for the crawlers a little bit too because it shows the contextuality of this page and how it’s related to your navigation and your site flow in general. That’s not going to make a huge difference, but it is helpful to your users.
Right below that is our page title. Now typically, a page title is wrapped in an H1 tag. Now, if you’re using H2, H3, whatever is the top header tag that you have is what is going to have that prominence. If you don’t have an H1, it’s not that bad as long as you have an H2. Now, you want to make sure that in that H1 tag, you’re complimenting what you’ve titled the page. This means you want to have contextually appropriate keywords inside of that header tag.
You want to be descriptive; you want to tell the user exactly what the page is about. Again, just like the user, the crawler is going to read your page left to right top to bottom. They’re going to be looking at that information inside there and say, “Yes. This is the page I was looking for.”
Now dropping down into the content, we want to make sure that we are using our keywords, but not just the same keyword over and over and over again. In the years past, you may have heard of terms like keyword density. Now, keyword density was never something that Google used to understand the context of the page. It was something more we used to give us an idea of how frequently we should be using a term.
What Google and the other search engines use is something called TF-IDF, which is term frequency-inverse document frequency. It’s something that is involved in natural language processing which helps a computer understand the context of a page. Now we’re not going to go super deep into it, but you want to make sure that you have your keyword in your page. You also want to have contextually appropriate terms, what we talked about in another video which was Latent Semantic Indexing terms, LSI keywords, which is contextually related keywords.
I hope all these big terms aren’t scaring you. You just want to have terms that are related, like SEO, search engine optimization, search marketing, those type of terms that are related: blogging, content marketing. They’re all in that realm of digital marketing. It’s going to add that context to the page, and whatever relates to your industry, that’s what you want to do. You don’t want to stuff words, you want sentences to sound natural, you want it to be informative, you want to have quality content, but make sure that you’re using the terms that you want to be known for and want to be found for.
We’ll get a little bit deeper into some other posts with TF-IDF. It’s a really powerful thing, it’s cool, and there are some tools out there that will help you understand what type of words I should be using in my content, but the key is, and this is something I want to stress, is write for the user first.
Write for your audience first, then come back and optimize that page or that article for the search engines as well. You want it to be natural. One of the worst things you can do is just try to stuff keywords in there and create content that’s not even interesting to read because you’ve clearly written it not for a human audience but more of a computer audience. Make sure that you’re doing that inside of your keywords, inside of your content.
Now, over here we want to have multimedia. Maybe we get an image or a video. If it’s an image, you want to have alt tag. You want to make sure that you’re descriptive. What is that image about? Search engines are trying to understand the content inside images, which is great, but they can’t fully do that yet, but we want to help them. We want to make sure that maybe this image can rank in the image search.
Keyword descriptive alt tag, keyword descriptive title tag, you even want to optimize your file name. Whatever that image is called, is spelled… you know, www.imageseoblog.jpg, give an idea of what that image actually is inside of that file type. That’s going to help.
You also want to make sure that the image is not too big that it loads quickly, that’s the appropriate size for your webpage. Don’t just load an 8,000 by 8,000-pixel image into your site. It’s going to be slow; the server’s going to have to compress that image to fit. Just because you’re scaling it down using HTML, it doesn’t mean you compress the file. Make sure it is the right size, the size that you want it to be to fit inside of your page.
Now, as we move down and you’re going to have H2 or H3 or other header tags, make sure that those are complementing the page. Again, we’re using those LSI terms, those contextual terms as we move down the page. Now, you want to make sure that you’re internally linking as well. Make sure that you’re linking to other pages on your site that are relevant to the content here. One, that helps the user find more relevant content. Two, it helps the crawlers understand the context because now it’s going to crawl those pages in here, it’s going to say, “Okay. This page must be related to this page.” They’re all working together. Now in a blog post, we typically like to link back to what we call core pages or anchor pages or pillar pages, whatever those pages that are delivering your service or your options to, you want to use your blog to direct people back to those.
Now, you don’t want to do this absurdly, maybe two to three at the most. Don’t overdo it. Link when it’s appropriate and make sure that it’s natural. Again, that’s the key; be natural. Don’t try to be natural or appear to be natural, but actually be natural. It’s a powerful thing believe it or not.
Now, as we move down, we have an external link. We want to be using external links, especially if we’re citing other people, it’s the right thing to do because you need to give credit to other people’s ideas. You want to make sure that you’re not just taking something as your own. Credit everybody out there giving you information, maybe you’re using stats or quotes or an idea. Make sure you cite them. Here’s the other reason for that: it’s going to improve your expertise, your authority, and your trustworthiness.
Now those are three things that are core to Google search quality guidelines, and those are user guidelines, human beings who are looking at it, but the crawlers are looking at that too. Maybe you’re new in the industry but you’ve got a lot of knowledge, and you want to share that knowledge, but Google doesn’t quite yet trust you because you’re new. You have a new domain; they don’t know if they can take you seriously.
Well if you’re citing credible people in websites that are trustworthy sources, they’re going to use that and say, “Here’s what this guy said. Okay. He’s citing this guy who we know is a credible source in the industry. Here’s what he says. Yes, it lines up. This guy must not be a fake.” That’s going to add some value to your content. It’s going to show Google that, “Hey. This guy’s not full of it.” External links are extremely important. Put them in your site.
Now, you want to use a target blank in your link or some places just allow you to open in new tab. That way you’re not having people leave your site completely, but they’re just going to that other page to see where you’re pulling that resource from.
Finally what we want to do at the end of our page, whether it’s a blog page or another page, we want to have a call-to-action or a next step. Where do people go after they’ve had this interaction with you, after they’ve read through your content, they’ve understood what you’ve been talking about, what’s the next step? You get to direct them. You get to help them and show them where they should make their next move.
This is why call-to-actions are important. Don’t make them absurd, don’t always try to sell people, just help them along their journey. We want to make sure that this journey is targeted, focused, and leads to the end that we want them to have.
Again we’ve got our footer here. We talked a little bit about the footer before, but these the core elements to optimizing your pages, optimizing your blog posts, and making sure that you’re telling people the right information. You’re helping them get connected to the story, that you’re proving your trustworthiness as a blogger, as a site owner. Start doing these things consistently, and you’re going to see a major impact on both your search rankings and your site engagement.
Hope you guys learned something this week on Hack My Growth. If you have questions, please contact us below. If you liked the video hit subscribe. We’d love to have you as part of our community here. Until next time, Happy Marketing.