SEO is not an easy game any more. Google’s algorithm evolved over the years and became more discerning. Thus, it is now harder than ever to make a way-through for beginners and average marketers.
Keyword optimization is the core function of SEO, and it will continue to work this way. Doing optimization in a traditional way can’t give you enough points.
However, to revamp SEO strategies, you need to understand how search engines value the keywords and how to optimize them the right way. In this post, I’ll walk you through some smart tips that will help you stand out.
On-page SEO for Keyword Optimization
Keyword placement and density used to be key ranking factors. In the early days of Google and other search engines, the occurrences of specific keywords at strategic areas in your content would help them measure the relevance of your content.
On-page SEO tells search engines what’s this page about. The significant portion of this technique covers keyword optimization, meaning keyword placement on prominent places. This strategy used to be a major ranking factor in the early days. Because of the severe manipulation made by marketers, there are some negative impacts of this option.
Still, it’s helpful if you can work with it in the right way. First, you need to know where to put your keywords. While optimizing keywords, consider the following places.
- First paragraph of the content
- Inside the text
- Image “alt” tags
- SEO title
- Meta description
Keyword placement helped search engines to understand what is the topic and how relevant it is to the search term. With the evolution of the algorithm, Google can determine the subject matter without knowing the frequency of a key term. Hence, the optimization with keywords gets little significance.
But don’t you think that on-page optimization is dead. It has value, and it will help your page boost for the SERPs, no matter how little. I’m going to talk about the matter soon.
Build a Repeatable Checklist for Keyword Optimization
As you know now that keyword optimization is essential, you need to discover a way to iterate an easy method to save some effort and to get a better outcome.
While optimizing, you should consider every aspect of it. You have to work with the whole website and all sections. That includes all the sections I mentioned a few moments ago.
Having a checklist can make your workflow more efficient and give you more benefits. If you follow a structured method, you can make your keyword list full of hidden strength.
I’m giving you some idea for the workflow, but you can customize to make your own plan:
- Segmentation: Based on various topics and their potential, categorize your keywords.
- Mark top pages: Keep your top pages into groups considering the keywords, competition, keyword difficulty, and popularity.
- Long-tail: Now create a separate list full of targeted, top-performing long-tail keywords.
- Internal search: Keep an eye on what your users are searching inside your website. Get help from Google Analytics and Search Console.
- Opportunities: There are always some keywords which you overlooked because they are not from your core target or competition. Often they come with some variations. After finding those gems, align them with your existing pages. You can even consider creating new pages to extend the benefit.
Prioritize for Mobile Search
As mobile devices are on the rise and Google follows a principle called “mobile-first”, you have to consider it seriously. People have a different perspective when they search via mobile phones. Wherever they go, they can take their mobile devices, not the desktop or laptop. Because of this particular notion, they tend to act differently with their pocket device.
The queries on the mobile may be shorter because it’s not convenient to write the smaller tap-based keyboard. To elaborate, they may type “bali attractions” instead of “best tourist attractions in bali”. On the other hand, the keyword sometimes may appear longer due to the voice search.
Takeaway: Consider both shorter and longer versions to get on the top with mobile SERPs.
Optimize with Voice Search
Mentioned already, the popularity of voice search is increasing, so you need to take into account while optimizing keywords. Because of the virtual assistance, people find it comfortable to search over their voice command. With Google Home or Alexa, Siri or Cortana, users do the quick search without typing via keyboard.
How can you optimize keywords for this uprising trend? To win over with it, you need to understand how different it is from the traditional search. Let’s see an example. People would go for “What are the best restaurants to eat in Nashville” instead of “best restaurants in Nashville.”
- These search terms are conversational
- Long-tail key phrases play a big role here
- Autosuggestion won’t appear as people don’t go for typing
Takeaway: Alongside your focus keywords, keep some conversational terms into your list. Focus on the long-tail keywords no matter how low search volumes they have.
While you’re optimizing keywords to rank your website, there’s a good chance to get penalized by search engines. I hope you will follow the best practices but learn what can cause harm to your site before going into business.
Hiding keywords: I’m not sure if you have ever heard of it or not. It was a widespread blackhat practice in the past. People used to do this by applying the same background color to the text, placing them behind images, and getting help from CSS. If you happened to be aware of it before or knowing just now, avoid using it to your site.
Keyword stuffing: This was an old trick in the bag which can now be easily detected by search engines. Keyword stuffing refers to repeating keywords unnaturally over and over again throughout your content. Placing keywords across all the places – including titles, meta, content, subheadings – makes your content unreadable. By the way, don’t get confused with natural optimization where you apply keywords in some crucial places combining with term variations.
Keyword optimization comes after keyword research. While conducting your research, make sure you’re doing it in the right way. Without having the list of powerful keywords, you can’t beat the competition. Like in every other sector, make sure you prioritize quality over quantity even with keyword optimization.
Here are a few final takeaways:
- Try to look for low-competitive, popular keywords
- Win the combat with keywords that have a low difficulty score
- Follow a checklist to utilize the keywords in the proper way
- Place keywords in the prominent part of a webpage
- Focus on the topical relevance while combing through thousands of keywords
- Make long-tail keywords your way to go to the top
- Mix up with the variations, such as related and branded search terms