Before you move full steam ahead on an SEO campaign or link-building efforts for your site, you need to make sure a few things are in order. You should have a comprehensive list of keywords you want to rank for. This list of keywords will be your bible for editing your existing pages, sprucing up content, coming up with future blog titles, and more.
If you don’t have this list of keywords, do a little research by looking at competitors’ sites, search terms you currently rank for, and by using a tool, such as Google’s Keyword planner. You can hire an SEO expert to do this for you, but you should at least have a general idea of how you want people to find your business.
Once you have this list of keywords, what do you do with it?
To start, look through the list of keywords and see which resonate you. Which ones capture your business? From this mega list, select 1-2 main keywords you want to focus on for your site. It could be “healing yoga classes Seattle” or “classic Italian restaurant San Francisco.” For local SEO purposes, it helps if one of your keywords are location based.
Take these two main keywords and scatter them throughout your site. Add it to content, headings, your About page, etc. You don’t want to over-use it, which is called keyword stuffing and can get you dinged by Google. Use it naturally, about 2-3 times per page depending on the amount of content. It should never be obvious to a reader that these are keywords you are trying to use – at the end of the day, the site needs to still be interesting and readable for customers.
You can also look at that big list and select one additional keyword for each page. For some pages, like perhaps the About page, it will have the same keyword as the whole site. But specific page keywords let you break down services, menu items, different products, and more.
Only focus on these few keywords. Packing a site full of 20 keywords on each page will just get confusing, and will likely turn your content into mush. Always read it with an outside eye, or ask a friend to confirm that your keyword use is natural.
A big part of SEO is consistently adding new content and updating the site. This is best done with a blog. Blogs are another great place to fit in your keywords. You can choose a more niche keyword and write a blog post that covers that topic. The keywords on that list indicate that people are searching it. If there aren’t many results that come up, a well-written, well-optimized piece could easily work its way to the top of search engine results.
In addition to integrating keywords into the content, there are a few small places that need them as well. These include:
- Meta Tags
- h1 tags
- Image name and alt title
As many places as you can fit the keyword, the better. Google crawls through every element of your page, and will take notice when you’re optimizing a smart way.
And again, don’t keyword stuff! A page where every thing just says “hardware store Fresno” over and over again, Google will think you’re a scammer and will penalize your site, maybe even banning your domain. It can be very difficult to come back from this, so be wise.
There’s no magic number for too much keyword density, but a sweet spot is around 2-3% per page. There are a few keyword density tools you can use, so place your content in their search box, and scan the density to see what percentage you’ve hit for your keywords. If it’s over 5%, it’s time to back down and eliminate a few.
Optimizing for keywords is the first step in your SEO campaign. It will help focus your site and all further marketing efforts, to make them more efficient.