Do you venture beyond page one of the SERPs (search engine results pages) when searching for something?
Now, imagine your potential clients, partners or employees searching to find information about your product service or organisation. What terms would lay people choose? Not the same as you, no doubt. They’ll not search for waterproof jogger’s vest, but ‘wet weather running gear’. They’ll probably not know to search for the XR5600, but instead will type in ‘large garden shears’. They won’t search for the name of your fancy programme, but ‘volunteering opportunities, Cardiff’. And, they’ll most likely click into the first few search results they see.
Try typing ‘what percentage of people never go beyond the first page of google?’ into Google. You won’t even need to leave the SERP (search engine results page) to the answer.
75% of people never scroll past the first page of search enginesPat Ahern, Inter
This blog post highlights what copywriters and other content writers can do to ensure their blog post content is reaching higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages), not including ads.
We’ll first talk about two things not to do.
SERP Search Engine Results Page Rankings Are Not Improved By These Two Things
Let’s have a look at two cheap and nasty tactics that are no longer in vogue.
Don’t Do Keyword Stuffing
This is an antiquated technique in web years.
- Don’t duplicate words or phrases unnecessarily and awkwardly. Our strapline is ‘communicate better’. If we shoved this into a blog post at any given opportunity, it would start to grate on the nerves. Just don’t – otherwise you run the risk of agitating and alienating readers who’ll feel cynically manipulated.
- Don’t shove in words and phrases that are completely unrelated to the topic of the page or post. This is just silly, which should be obvious.
- Don’t insert (invisible) block text containing your keyword. This sounds as naff as could be, but apparently it used to help.
Aside from anything else, this is unimaginative tactic involves zero creativity and research time and is – worst of all – unethical in light of your relationship with your potential clients, partners and employees.
Don’t Use the Keyword Meta Tag
The meta-keywords tag was last used by Google over a decade ago, but since it was open to abuse (people simply shoved in as many keywords as possible without necessarily creating useful or relevant content), its use was discontinued. You’ll probably not even find it in any plugins or SEO tools such as YOAST, as it’s simply no longer used by search engines to impact the SERPs. Worse yet, some suggest that search engines may penalise those websites that use it.
Now, let’s look at what you should do.
Do Your Keyword Research First
Before you begin writing your content, use Google or another keyword research and planner such as Ahrefs to find out what keyword best fits your topic. This research will probably alter the angle you take on the topic. For example, you might be planning to write an article about the ’12 best coffee makers’, but, after keyword research, realise that people are searching more for reviews on individual brands of coffee machines, which may mean you decide to write one large brands review blog post or a series of shorter ones on individual brands.
Keyword research tools also usually suggest some questions that people are using to search on this topic. Questions your target audience are already asking make great long-tail keywords, blog post topics and titles.
Another item of on page SEO jargon to pay attention includes the KD (keyword difficulty), a combined score measuring how difficult it is to rank in the top 10 SERPs (search engine results pages) for the selected keyword, including how many referring domains you’d need to achieve that. While it’s tempting to go for the one with the largest Volume (number of searches), remember that this will likely be accompanied by a high KD that makes it a ton of extra work and no-one will click on your result if it’s buried far down the SERPs for that keyword.
Add Your Keyword Into the URL
Arguably, the first place a search engine looks when trawling the web to serve up search engine results pages is the URL. If the keyword is written into your domain, you’re laughing.
For the rest of us mere mortals, our domain is likely already our business name (sensei.ie), so we have to make do with making sure the ‘slug’ (the end part of the URL that comes after the forward slash (sensei.ie/…) contains our keyword.
And, remember, if you’re using WordPress as your CMS (content management system), you can add an SEO plugin (we recommend YOAST) to help prompt you to improve the SEO on your pages and blog posts.
Add Your Keyword Into the H1 Title
The H1 title is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Page Title’. It’s what appears at the top of the page or blog posts title. You should only write this once you’ve done your keyword research. If you’ve also done some research on your reader personas (audience), then you’ll know their concerns, pain points and priorities.
Remember that while you may spend time crafting a well written meta description (see below), many of those using search engines will only look at the title before clicking. So, make sure the title is relevant to, and includes, the keyword.
Add Your Keyword Into the Title Tag
This is the one that appears in the SERPs as shown below. It can be slightly different to the H1 title, but should include the keyword – ideally as near the beginning as possible.
If you’re using WordPress or some other content management system, your SEO plugin or fields may also prompt you to lengthen the title by adding an additional few words in at the end (here I’ve added ‘Keywords & Metadata’) to further help explain the topic of the page or blog post.
Pay attention to the SEO Title’s template makeup, as it may append the ‘Page’ (as illustrated, the H1 Heading) or Site Title (usually your organisation’s name). Your words will need to fit around this, usually with the Site Title at the end. It is usually something you can change.
Add Your Keyword Into the First Few Words of the Blog Post
Remember, search engines are looking to serve up search results that are relevant. If they detect the keyword in the URL, title and the first line of text in the blog post, that immediately looks relevant. The same goes for humans thirsty for content that matches their search terms.
Add Secondary Keywords (Synonyms and Long-Tail Keyword Variations) in the Body Text
Remember, search engines are trawling your pages and blog posts for relevancy to the search term typed into the search engine by someone looking for information. They’ll surface the web pages that appear to be closely related to that term. You may have to get out your thesaurus to help you find synonyms. We recommend Merriam Webster, especially if your readership is based in the US. And, your SEO tool of choice will prompt you on the long-tail keyword variations.
Add Your Keyword Into Another H2 or H3 Heading
It’s insufficient to have the keyword written into your Title (H1 heading). Your website plugin or SEO fields will generally prompt you to add it and synonyms into another heading.
Rename the Featured Image with Your Keyword
Most blog posts contain at least one image, including a featured image that appears along with the blog post title, in excerpts, in social media and other places around the web.
- If you name the image using your keyword phrase (short is best), before you upload it to your website, it helps search engines assess your blog post for relevancy.
- You can use your keyword phrase in the alt text field, but it’s best if it’s descriptive of the image.
- And, you can add your keyword phrase in the image title field, but that doesn’t really help SEO.
Write a Meta Description Including the Keyword
The meta description is that text that will be displayed neatly on the SERP search engine results page underneath the (blue) clickable link to your page or blog post. It helps search engines and those conducting searches figure out how relevant your content is before they click.
If you neglect to do this, search engines will simply grab some text off your page and throw that in instead. It’ll usually be cut off mid-sentence, proving less useful for people scanning search results for something relevant to their query.
Google recommends a length of 155 characters.
Write an Excerpt
While not strictly SEO, this can help with how your website pages and blog posts are referenced around your website. Some website theme templates will display short excerpts on the home page or blog category and archive pages. Don’t make it hard for yourself – use the meta description and modify it slightly.
There are also recommend lengths for excerpts: WordPress suggests 55 words.
Have You Experimented and Ranked Higher in the SERPs Search Engine Results Pages?
Let us know about your adventures in a comment. And, follow us on Sensei on Instagram all month, as we look at the ingredients that go into the SERP Search Engine Results Page mix.
If you help with understanding the jargon surrounding SERPs search engine results pages, check out On Page SEO: A Glossary of Jargon.