There’s so much talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) going around, it’s impossible to keep up. Chances are, if you’re a busy entrepreneur or small business owner, you have no time to waste learning the SEO tricks of the moment. You just want to improve SEO so your site has better search results, right?
When I was learning SEO, there was one thing I learned to improve SEO that made it instantly click for me. Are you ready to learn it too? I promise, once you see how simple it is to make some very basic changes to your pages, you’ll wonder why you ever felt so overwhelmed by SEO in the first place.
Your Page Title is Arguably the Most Important Piece of SEO Juice on the Page
See, there are things called meta tags in the code of your site. They give search engines information about your pages so they know how to list them in their indices. For years, it was a common practice to fill the meta keyword tag with a long list of keywords. I certainly hope you haven’t paid anyone to implement the same strategy for you, because it couldn’t be more wrong. Google recently (in 2009, in fact – so not all that recent) stated that they do NOT even consider keywords in rankings.
Bummer, that really puts the time many people spend coming up with all these keywords to shame. Don’t be sad, though. This actually means search engines have become much smarter and rankings are based on much more than your ability to create a list of words. It prevents those who stuff their pages with keywords to trick search engines, from ranking above content that’s actually useful and relevant.
But how do I change the title of the page and how does it impact my rankings?
That’s an excellent question. First, it helps to understand more about the page title code. There’s code in the header section of your website pages that contains your title wrapped in tags like this: <title>Your Page Title</title>. This is the same text as the first line in Google’s search results. See the image below; this is what most of us look at when deciding whether or not to click a result. It’s no coincidence the page’s title tag appears here. It makes sense the title has the most impact since it’s the first thing that appears in search results, doesn’t it?
In search results, the URL comes after the title. This is another great place to include keywords, but you’ll rank higher if you choose one keyword to optimize for (And by keyword, I mean phrase. Individual words usuallyhave too much competition to be worth your effort.) Use that keyword or phrase in both your title and URL, and you’ll be climbing up the ranks.
Lastly, the meta description tag contains the 2 lines of description that appear right underneath the URL.
Learn How to Edit the Titles on Your Website
The easiest way to do this with a WordPress site is a plugin. I prefer the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, which makes it really easy to check if you’re correctly naming things to optimize for a specific keyword. If you’re not using WordPress, you’ll need to edit the code title and meta description tags on your site.
It’s really that easy. But let’s take a closer look at how the Yoast plugin works.
Let Me Show You How Achieved a #1 Ranking For My Social Media Calendar
The most popular post on my blog is my Social Media Calendar Template download. I attribute most of this to the fact that I achieved a #1 ranking on Google for the term, Social Media Calendar Template. I’ll walk you through how I did that.
In addition to WordPress being search-friendly (Google can recognize when a site was created in WordPress and automatically knows how to browse it. It allows Google to index it more quickly and easily.), editing the pages you want to rank with specific tags for that page is critical.
Within the Yoast plugin, on each post or page you’ll see this panel (see below). The first item in the panel is a snippet preview of how your page will appear in Google results.
The next section allows you to input a focus keyword to check against your entries. This doesn’t have any impact on your page for search engines; it’s just a tool to see if your keyword is placed in the page properly.
For my calendar post, the plugin shows my focus keyword appears in the article heading (whatever is in an <h1> tag). I have my page title set to be an H1 tag, but you can put it in the body of your page too.
I also use the keyword in the Page title, which is the field labeled “SEO Title”. The keyword appears in the first few paragraphs in the content of the page and also in the meta description (note, I’m not sure why the plugin checks for keywords in the meta description, because Google doesn’t check meta descriptions).
The only place my keyword doesn’t appear is in the page URL. I posted this before I was optimizing for this keyword, so I used a different URL. However, now I have many external links to this page, so I don’t want to change the URL because the links will no longer work. I’m pleased with my results, so I’m not going to change a thing!
Some Things to Remember When Working on SEO
- Think about what people are going to search for and do some research by searching those keywords to see what comes up.
- It’s difficult to optimize your pages for more than one or two phrases at a time because search engines only display about 70 characters of the title. The title should still make sense to your readers, so don’t just stuff it with key phrases
- Along with the outdated keyword meta tag, the description tag isn’t read by search engines, even though keywords appear bold in results. Use these lines (150-160 characters) to entice your reader to click on your page.
- Submit a sitemap to Google to allow it to find your site more quickly. The WordPress plugin I mentioned does this automatically and alerts search engines each time you update your site.
- It takes time for Google to find you and list your site, so be patient.
- Once you appear for the phrases you chose, watch how you move around the rankings. Experiment with other phrases and determine what gives you the highest ranking and best results.
- Not seeing results? Maybe your key phrase is too popular. There are other things you should implement in addition to title and meta tags, so maybe it’s an indication you need to take your SEO education a step further. I recommend this beginner’s guide by SEO MOZ. It’s hefty and gets technical, but is worth the read if you’re serious about learning yourself. Otherwise, I’d consider hiring an SEO professional to help you (be sure to contact Ekcetera for info on packages).
Now I have a bit of homework for you.
I want you to choose one page of your site – pick the one you want people to see more of that has a golden nugget in it. Copy and paste the URL of that page in the comments below. Along with a link, tell me the keyword you’re going to optimize that page for. Bookmark this article so you can report your results later.
Go and optimize that page for your key phrase. Give it one month to work its way up. Then, come back to this post and leave a comment on your results. I want to see how it works for you! In fact, if you leave your email address, I’ll even personally email you to remind you to post your results in a month.
Let’s get to it! I know you’ll feel such huge gratification from watching your efforts reward you.
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