This one’s so obvious I’m almost embarrassed to write about it.
But not as embarrassed as I was when I realized I wasn’t using it…
True story: for months I’d been trying to improve one of my personal sites’ ranking for a particular keyword, but it kept hovering around the number 5 spot. This was even more annoying because the number 1 site actually had a link to my site at the beginning of their top-ranked page!
It wasn’t until I ran my own site through the checklist I’m about to share that I realized the problem, or at least one of the key ones: I didn’t have my primary keywords in the page’s title tag!
The forehead slap heard ’round the world, that was…
So, no matter how simple these items might seem, have a look at one of your underperforming pages and see how you score against this keyword checklist:
Keyword in title tag. When you go to the page, can you see your keyword or key phrase on the top bar of the browser, ideally right at the beginning?
Keyword in URL. This is less vital (though studies claim that having the keyword right in your domain name is a huge advantage,) but if your content management software lets you specify the content URL, make sure you’ve got your keyword placement there.
Keyword in a header tag. Somewhere on your page, is there an h1 or h2 HTML tag that includes your keyword or key phrase, showing that it’s actually an important part of the document?
Keyword in meta description. Google’s actually gone on record as saying they don’t look at this tag, but it’s what users see when they look at your new top Google result, which will drive them to click through, which is what brings you the traffic that this is all about.
So yes, in other words, is the keyword everywhere it can be that’ll tip Google off?
Oh, and one more thing: one keyword per page. Don’t try to run the checklist for multiple keywords on the same page, have multiple pages instead. You’re obviously going to have more than just your primary keyword on the page, and you’ll probably get some residual interest from these other keywords, but don’t let them distract you from your page’s primary goal.
There are two types of search engine optimization: on page, where you make changes to your own site structure and content to improve search engine rankings, and off page, where you get targeted links to your site.
If you’d like to expand the checklist to include off page factors, the best way to do that is to start looking at the pages that link to you and make sure that at least some of these links have your keyword in the link text.
Thrust Labs doesn’t do off page SEO, but we can certainly help with your on page efforts! For a free evaluation, get in touch!