Get Excited About Keywords and Title Tags Yet Be Wary of Search Engine Penalties
Conducting proper keyword research can allow you to keep your website up to date and ranking high in search engine results in a dynamic market. Title tag design is critical to both visitor experience and search engine optimization. While making all of these edits, a web designer and coder must be wary of the pitfalls that can make honest websites with high quality content plummet in search engine rankings.
Before implementing all of the comprehensive keyword analytics tools available, you must ask yourself: Are these keywords relevant to my website’s content? Will searchers be satisfied with my website’s purpose when a search engine brings them to my site based on these keywords they input? Will website traffic make progress toward my company’s goals? If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, you may want to further investigate these keywords.
The first and most simple step is to type the keywords into the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). This simple act will give you insight into the competition for those keywords. The more large corporations that use that keyword, and the more search advertisements, the more difficult it will be to rank highly for a given keyword. One of the many search engine analytics tools Google offers allows you to find out how many times a given keyword is searched per day (or month, year, two years, etc.). The best strategy is to find keywords that are frequently searched (and not already dominated by other competitors) and are specifically relevant to your content.
Understanding the search demand curve is essential to this strategy. The top keywords that get hundreds or thousands of searches a day actually compose less than thirty percent of the total searches for a given day. The remaining seventy percent plus make up what is called the “long tail” of search terms. The long tail contains millions of unique searches that much of the time, convert better than the most popular search terms. Most of these “long tail” searches are more specific, an indication that a user is further along in the buying cycle. If you can find frequent specific keywords that are relevant to your site, you will have a much better chance of converting a search engine user to engaging in your product or service.
Title tags, aka title elements, define the title of a web document. Title tags are used on search engine results pages and are exceedingly important for SEO and website sharing. The following pieces of advice will help you to optimize your titles.
Search engines will typically truncate title tags if they exceed a certain length. For Google, this length is usually between fifty to sixty characters. A truncated title tag is aesthetically displeasing and may lose a potential customer because they cannot fully read and comprehend main idea of your content. That being said, it is best to focus more on creating a title tag that is captivating and gets clicks than focusing on its length.
According to Moz‘s testing, the most important keywords should be placed near the front of a title tag. It is unknown exactly why this is the case, but it significantly improves the search engine ranking.
Where you place you brand name in a title tag is also important. If your brand is well known and commonly searched, it should be at the front of the title tag. If your brand is not commonly searched, and if a keyword is searched more than your brand name, you should include the name at the end of the title tag.
First impressions are everything. The title tag is typically the first thing a search engine user will see upon discovering your website. You need to write an easy to read, compelling title tag to draw in users so they click on your website link.
Determining whether your website has been penalized by a search engine can be a difficult process. Search engine algorithms change and making a small change can indirectly cause a penalty. First, you need to rule out the following before you assume you have been penalized.
- Errors: Errors in the coding or design of your website may have prevented or inhibited crawling. Google offers a free service called Google’s Search Console that can be used to find these errors.
- Changes: Changes to your site may change the way crawlers and search engines view and respond to your content. Think about every change you make in light of how it will affect your search engine results.
- Similarities: Check out ranking and statistics of sites that have similar backlinking profiles. Change in search engine algorithms can affect link valuation which affects website rankings.
- Duplicate Content: Many websites have duplicate content, which negatively affects search rankings. This is an easy mistake to make, especially when scaling up an originally small website or business.
Once you’ve ruled out this list, follow the flowchart below for more specific advice:
This information was obtained from the Moz “Learn SEO” guide. To read more about these topics, check out Moz’s website.