Did you know that Google boasts more than 3.5 billion searches every single day? What’s more, ranking among the coveted top five search results means your site will garner 70 percent of all organic traffic for any given search.
If that’s a power you’d like to wield, then it’s time to get serious about keyword placement.
Hopefully, you’ve already done keyword research and have stellar short and long tail keywords ready to go. Of course, we can’t tell you what they should be since keywords differ by industry and research.
But once you’ve got them, you better know where to put them, so read on for the rules you need for rockstar placement.
RankBrain & The Terminator
Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing, and thank goodness! Shady SEO practices led to nearly unintelligible websites where keywords took on the same grammatical flexibility as cuss words. Used as everything from nouns to verbs to adjectives, keyword stuffing resulted in some pretty horrific online reading.
But Google rode in on its white horse and started shaking things up with algorithms that continue to evolve. Like other artificial intelligence, Google’s RankBrain keeps getting smarter.
Okay, we’re not necessarily talking The Terminator here, but don’t think you can game the system, either.
According to Practical ECommerce, “Modern SEO focuses on using the variations of the word or phrase that work naturally within the content because users will have a better experience, and search engines are capable of rewarding rankings to sites regardless of the variation of that keyword used.
In other words, when a shopper searches for ‘books,’ the pages that best serve that user’s search query will, in theory, be ranked highest regardless of whether the content reflects the word ‘book’ or ‘books.'”
In laymen’s terms, Google’s on a quest to place the best information resources in front of its clients. And with billions of searches happening every day, this proves an impressive, ambitious goal. It also represents Google’s lifeblood.
After all, what would happen if Google couldn’t deliver on its promise of providing the most usable, relevant content to each of its users? Remember a little search engine called Yahoo? Google definitely doesn’t want to go there.
Organic SEO Gurus & the Oracle of Delphi
Of course, playing by Google’s unarticulated SEO rules can prove a pain for webmasters and digital marketers alike. It’s a lot like trying to hit a moving target without ever knowing what the target actually is.
Why? Because the tweaks prove never ending. And the algorithm represents a secret sauce that Google, come hell or high water, is not sharing with the rest of the world… especially the people most interested, like you and I.
That said, this has resulted in a group of organic SEO gurus that could put the Oracle of Delphi to shame with their prophetic Google visions.
Missing the SEO Forest for the Trees
We get so caught up in the figurative trees (keywords) of the SEO forest, that we often miss the larger point. At the end of the day, how well your content serves your customers has the most profound impact on your rankings.
According to the Search Engine Journal, “Since consumers know what they are looking for, you can optimize your content around the core needs and problems your target audience experiences.
It is your job to build an SEO strategy by knowing what your customers are looking for. This will allow you to create relevant content that your customers want to read, and as a result, your content will rank higher on Google.”
That said, there remain nine really smart places to put keywords on your website. These include your:
- ALT and title attributes
- Embedded file names
- Title tags
- META description tags
- META keywords tags
- Headers and sub-headers
- Page content
- Link text
Alright, hold on to your hats as we deep dive into attracting more organic traffic through strategic keyword placement. Let’s start with the behind-the-scenes places that often get overlooked when it comes to websites.
Then, we’ll move forward to the more visible areas that you might already be optimizing… just not effectively.
Remember the story of Hansel and Gretel? Hansel takes a slice of bread with him as his father and stepmother lead he and his sister into the woods. As they move through the forest, Hansel tears off small bits of bread leaving a trail of breadcrumbs the children can follow back home to their neglectful parents.
Online breadcrumbs work in much the same way. They help people get around your site and back to where they started. Breadcrumbs also represent a great place for entering keywords.
There’s a caveat, though. Your breadcrumbs must clearly indicate which pages they lead to without being more than three words long. Writing great breadcrumbs requires ingenuity and brevity, but it comes with a nice payoff when done right.
2. ALT and Title attributes
You can use ALT and title attributes for SEO because they let you augment your pages with additional text. Just remember that usability remains the most important object when it comes to ALT and title attributes. So, if you can fit in keywords while still keeping your website user-friendly, great!
But don’t put search engine concerns before reader experience. That means no duplication of content or keyword stuffing, either! (I hope you’ve already figured out keyword stuffing’s a no-no, right?)
3. Embedded Files
Embedded file names remain invisible to your readers. But they DO get read by search engines. So, when you save documents and images for upload to your website, keep what you name them in mind.
Embedded file names provide the perfect opportunity to infuse your website with more relevant keywords without raising the ire of Google. Use your keywords to name your documents, PDFs, images, and more. That way, you’ve covered all of your bases and given your website a little extra oomph.
Alright, now that we’ve covered the behind-the-scenes areas of your website, it’s time to tackle the more obvious locations.
4. Title Tags
Where do search engines begin their scan of your site? With your title tags, of course! These title tags also appear on search engine result pages as the actual links to your page.
Title tags also appear in your reader’s web browser and on their tabs. So, don’t skimp on these babies! Make sure each page of your website contains the title tag of its primary keyword.
5. META Description Tags
When readers conduct an online search and one of your pages gets provided as a result, they’ll see your META description tag. Where does this appear? It’s the little chunk of text located just beneath your title tag.
Since search engines lift the first 150 words as a META description, you need to keep it brief. You also have a very narrow window to use your keywords.
Since some search engines only grab a portion of your 150-word META description, make sure you get your keywords in the first sentence or two.
6. META Keywords Tags
Not too long ago, digital marketers and website makers used to cram every possible keyword combination into META keywords tags. But then search engines caught on and revamped how they rank this tag.
As a result, debate swirls around how useful this part of your website actually is when it comes to keywords. Here’s the deal, though. Search engines now consider how relevant the keywords in your META keywords tag are to the content on that particular page.
So, feel free to stick keywords in your META keywords tags. Just make sure they relate directly to the content on that page. In other words, keep it relevant!
7. Headers and Sub-Headers
Okay, this one might sound like a no-brainer, but there’s a little more to it than you might think. You probably already know about placing keywords in your headers and sub-headers. But did you know that where they fall within your headers and sub-headers matters, too?
For optimal effect, place your keywords near the beginning of each header and sub-header.
It makes it easier for guests to scan your website for information, and it emphasizes the main point of your content.
8. Page Content
To put it bluntly, you wouldn’t have a website without content. It draws organic traffic to your site, lets guests engage with your pages, and buttresses up more or less everything else on your site. Remember, too, that people link to your content rather than your site, so you better make sure what’s on there works.
But let’s nip this content tangent in the bud before it spirals out of control and get back to the meat and potatoes… keyword placement. Where do keywords go in your content? And what should their density be?
Keyword density should fall in the three to five percent range to avoid sounding stuffed and stilted. You also want to ensure your primary keyword’s found once in the first paragraph and once in the conclusion. Secondary keywords can then get sprinkled throughout the content, but do not go crazy!
Remember, user experience trumps keyword density every time. If your content sounds awkward and proves difficult to read, it doesn’t matter how many secondary keywords you’ve managed to stuff in there. Because nobody’s going to be reading…
9. Link Text
Instead of going with the old standard “click here” for your link text, it’s time to branch out. Why?
“Click here” doesn’t rank high on the SEO-friendly list. In fact, it’s hanging out near the bottom.
So, what the heck should your link text read instead? You can’t go wrong when you use the relevant keyword phrase for the page you’re linking to. This kills two birds with one stone in the SEO world.
First, it indicates to search engines the relevancy of your link. Second, it helps build the relevancy of the page you’re linking to. Again relevancy proves key.
Keyword Placement Matters
Interested in learning more about keyword placement? Or, how to search for keywords on a page? Maybe you’d like guidance on other optimization techniques?
Check out our Search Engine Rankings blog to find out about all of the latest and greatest trends in the SEO world. From how to search a webpage for keywords to a comparison of short versus long tail keywords, we’ve got your answers.
At Ranking Check, we’re here to take the guesswork out of search engine optimization. Check out our tools and resources so that your website stays right where you want it–at the top.