By Rachel Chandler, Bayshore Solutions Account Associate
Google currently processes over 40,000 search queries per second, totaling over 3.5 billion searches a day. This search engine giant and its competitors, Bing and Yahoo, use complicated, multifaceted calculations to make spilt second decisions on what content to show users for every search made. With a fierce determination to only show the most relevant and popular content coupled with fast decision making, how do you ensure that your content makes the cut? Optimization is the key.
Optimization has recently become a marketing “buzzword” that is casually thrown around in several “how-to” marketing blogs, but what does it really mean for you? Optimization is a proven, effective way to tell both searchers and search engines what your content is about and why your piece of content holds value.
While Google will never tell us their secret formula, this 5 Point Optimization checklist will help ensure your content is well prepared:
1. Title Tag
A title tag is the first thing a searcher will read. With a 62-70 character limit, it is important to be able to capture the essence of a page in few words. This is also an indication of a page’s topic to the search engine. The goal in writing a page’s title tag is to communicate to a reader and the search engine what they can expect from the landing page before they click through.
2. Keywords and Linking
Contextual keywords and linking have played an interesting part in the development of optimization. A common practice of the past was putting as many keywords into content as possible –”keyword stuffing,” Google may penalize your site for this and other activities, now called, “Black Hat SEO.” Such questionable practices can do more harm than good to you content online. Proper, contextual keywords do still hold a spot on our optimization check list. As a way of identifying main themes of content, Google and other large search engines do use keywords in context, among dozens of other signals, as a guide to understanding the topic of a web page.
Avoid placing outbound links too high on a page as well, as that signals to both bots and users that this page may be just to bait, and bots will often send spiders off of the page before completely crawling the entirety of the content. Rule of thumb – wait until the second paragraph to add anchor text, unless the anchors bring the user to more relevant content on page in another section.
3. Meta Description
Meta descriptions are an opportunity to expand on the main point of the content within a 156 character limit. Search engine algorithms place heavy value on text that reads naturally, so again the practice of keyword stuffing has lost both its value and effectiveness in this SEO element. Instead, make it a goal to include keywords only if they are a natural fit. In many cases, the best keywords are so targeted that they are a natural fit in a descriptive sentence.
A page’s H1 tag is the most important tag used in HTML markup and helps distinguish the heading from subheadings within content. Nowadays it is possible for a page to have multiple H1 tags but a recommended best practice is to present only one. This alleviates causing confusion to the search engines. There is still much debate on whether an H1 tag holds much value, but recent studies have shown search results ranking rewards those who use proper H1 tags.
5. Body Content
Perhaps the most important piece to optimize is the actual piece of content. If the content is opposite of what a user expects to find when they land on a page, then they will leave, or “Bounce” right off of your website. Having a high bounce rate is a quick way to lose a search engine’s trust. Rankings will begin to fall and eventually the search engines will find a replacement that is a more trustworthy and popular. Make sure you get the point across of the page within the first 2-3 sentences. The engines bots crawl linearly, so if they don’t understand subject matter within the first few sentences, what makes you think the user will either?
Optimization is important to each step of the content creation process. Skipping even one step may result in a search engine like Google choosing to show someone else’s content. When understood and followed properly, optimizing becomes a natural part of the content creation process and helps to build content that is appealing to both searchers and the search engines.
At Bayshore Solutions we have seen great successes for our clients after engaging an optimization process. One of our clients even enjoys their content being displayed as the official Google definition when users search for a popular industry term (Go ahead and Google “Debridement”). Optimization builds trust with both users and search engines and helps put your brand’s messaging in front of the right audience.
If the idea of having to optimize each piece of content seems a bit overwhelming, then help from industry experts may be the best option. Bayshore Solutions is proud to be home to several SEO industry experts who continually work on perfecting best practices, while adapting to the fast paced world of the ever changing search engines. For more information on how Bayshore Solutions can help you optimize your content, contact us today.