Proper use of keywords, tags and article descriptions can enhance your posts and website with Search Engines and can form part of a successful SEO stragety. This is one in a series of articles I have been writing to lean about Search Engine Optimization. As part of the learning process, I hope these post will someday help other as well.
To get an overview of this series “SEO for Beginning Bloggers,” check out the first two posts: Learning SEO for Blogging and SEO Strategy – Important Considerations. These present “Big Picture” concepts and some key elements in an SEO strategy. In the last post, I explained the importance of writing good content. This post will examine keywords, tags and article descriptions.
Using keywords properly can enhance your blog but before you go crazy, you should read this article on SEO tactics gone wild. It is an excellent post on overreaching with Search Engine Optimization. Remember that SEO is a tool to help improve your blog and nothing more. Use if effectively but also do all the other things that make a good blog like writing good content.
Keywords are words or phrases that people might type into a search engine to look for something, such as a product they want to buy or information on a subject of interest. Keyword discovery and placement can seem like one of the more mysterious aspects of Search Engine Optimization. I would suggest you use this article as a guide but then go find other resources to learn about the topic. Finding the right keywords is one aspect of this process. There are a number of ways to find the right words phrases for a post:
- You can generate your own list of words or use a free service to help generate the list. You can also pay for a premuin service that may offer more features.
- Brainstorming a list.
- Think of five ways to asks the same question. For example, if you are looking for bowling tips (after all, who isn’t?), you might come up with the following keywords:
- Bowling tips.
- Tips for better bowling.
- Improving my bowling game.
- Secrets to better bowling.
- How to bowl better.
- After brainstorming, add to the list by changing certain words:
- Bowling tips becomes . . . Bowing secrets.
- Tips for better bowling becomes . . . Tips to improve my bowling.
- Improving my bowling game becomes . . . Perfecting my bowling game.
- Secrets to better bowling becomes . . . Secrets to great bowling.
- How to bowl better becomes . . . How to improve my bowling.
- Use Google “related searches” to help refine the list.
- Search with one or two of the best keywords from your list.
- Click on “more search tools” and then “related searches” on the left sidebar of Google search page.
- This will generate a number of search phrases, often referred to as “long tail search keywords.”
- Use a free keyword tool to help select the right words and phrases. There are a number of free tools that are great for beginners. I am not going to provide reviews for these in this post because I am still trying them out myself. Try one or two to get started.
- One place to start would be Google Keyword Tool found at Google Adwords.
- Note below, when I entered a search description on bowling (how to improve my bowling game), there were a number of terms that looked like some of my keywords as well as others that are related but not exactly the same.
- If you experiment with this and change the phasing, you will see different results.
I have read a number of articles on keywords and their placement in a post. Most have suggested that there is a process of trial and error and a bit of learning curve before you get it all figured out. For keyword placement, here are some suggestions:
- Place your most important keyword in the post title.
- Place the keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
- Have an opening sentence that reinforces the main idea of the post and restates the title.
- Use keywords in each heading, utilizing H2 and H3 headers from your theme.
- Headers might resemble your title but do not restate the title exactly.
- Don’t go overboard with headers, some say two or three per post but that would depend on how long the article is.
- Use keyword phrases in the body of your text.
- This is a good place for those long tail keywords.
- Sprinkled with keywords, use variations (remember the related keyword list)
- Avoid keyword stuffing, which refers to an overuse of one or more keywords and key phrases.
- Put the keyword in your concluding sentence, just like the opening sentence.
- Some believe that the first 100 words and last 50 words of your post are where your keywords have the most punch.
Keywords in Descriptions
Descriptions or Meta Descriptions are short phrases that are less than 160 characters long. If you are using a theme that has a place for meta descriptions or a plug-in, then you should complete these as part of your post. If not, get a tool that will help. I recommend “The all in one SEO Pack” a very popular plug-in for Word Press users. There are other plugins but this one has been around a while and is well-recommended by other bloggers. As with keywords, descriptions can be a bit tricky. They are mostly for search engines and not usually seen by most people searching the web.
- Think through the description, it should contain your most important keyword or keyword phrase.
- Try and keep to the 160 word limit.
- Try a couple of options and then pick the best one.
Descriptions are always difficult for any writer. You are trying to covey the intent of an entire article in a couple of short sentences. Go back to your main idea and state, as clearly as possible, what the post is about.
Tags as Keywords.
Most of the posts I have read seem to agree that tags are good and can be an important part of an SEO strategy. Tags are a bit like an index, they can direct people to certain posts based on some key words and phrases, or main topics of that post. Categories can do the same thing but it is a good idea to use Categories and Tags differently. Don’t just repeat your category in your tags (sometime this may not be practical). As I research this area, I found it to be somewhat complicated. There are issues with duplicating content, for example. So my advice, at this time, is to keep researching and learning about tags.
Earlier, I mentioned the All-in-one-SEO-Pack pluging. What this plugin does is allow you to easily edit and control the Title, Description, and Tags (Meta) for each post you write. WordPress by default will use your blog tagline as your meta description and keywords. The keywords in your tagline are usually too general to describe the content of all of your posts. The plugin essentially gives you a custom tag line for each post.
The plugin helps you optimize your home page and each individual post you write. For the home page, it lets you define the purpose your blog, improve or change the tag line and add important keywords. As an example, my tag line is “don’t say it can’t be done.” It’s catchy but says nothing about the blog. The plugin allows me to add description that actually does describe the purpose and content of the blog. With individual posts, you have the same options.
- Title: with a limit of 60 characters, write a title, similar to the actual title but perhaps with a few additional words to help it out. This comes in really handy when you have a very short and concise post title. It can be embellished in the Meta title.
- Description: as described above, write your Meta description with 160 characters or less and include the key concepts of the post. You may also want to reinforce your site’s niche as well.
- Keywords: Enter the most important keyword phrases from you post. Once again, don’t go overboard and avoid keyword stuffing.
Keywords and keyword phrases are an important part of any SEO Strategy. Using them correctly is part science and part art. It will take practice, research and some common sence to really figure it out. I don’t pretend to be an expert but after researching and writing this post, I do feel that much has been learned.