Developing Your Content, Title and Meta Tags

on page SEO tips to help get you started

There is no *cookbook* method for optimizing a Web site. It takes time, testing, patience, testing and keeping on top of the industry - did we mention testing? The below information is meant to be a guideline ONLY! While we do have certain parameters we work within, none of it is cookbook nor will it ever be!

A list of good practices:

-Your copy should present your subject matter in a clear and concise manner using thoroughly researched keyword phrases.
-No Flash
-No Frames
-Intuitive Navigation
-Use no more than 3-4 of your researched keyword phrases per page in your copy
-Use your main keyword phrase in your <title> tag
-Use your keyword phrases wisely in your home page copy
-Create a keyword phrase rich meta description
-No Splash Pages

The three most important parts of your Web site:

<Title>, Interlinking &
Copy

Keyword Research - How do I find good keyword phrases?
The first and most important step of any successful search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is the keyword research. You and I can think of a lot of great keyword phrases... the thing you need to ask yourself, are humans actually using them? Searching on them in a search engine? If no one is searching on a particular phrase, then that phrase certainly won’t bring any traffic to your site. It’s imperative that your site is optimized with phrases that people actually search on. To find these phrase we have to conduct keyword research based upon your seed list.

Ask yourself: "What phrases do I want people to find my site with?"

A Task - Creating a Seed List

I tell my clients to create a list of every phrase they can think of that has to do with their product(s) and/or service(s). Have their co-workers, parents, grandparents, pets (well maybe not pets) submit their ideas as well.

EX:
An Albuquerque attorney might have the following phrases in their seed list:

personal injury
dog bites
divorce law
child custody

Sometimes, depending on the niche, the above exercise can create enough phrases for you to start with. Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s when you get a bit more aggressive about where you find these phrases:

1) server log files
2) competitor sites
3) thesaurus
4) online bidding tools
5) client
6) offline advertising

Let’s go over these:

1) Server Log Files – Looking in your log files is a great way to find extra phrases and ideas. When you dump these in your keyword research tool of choice (I use Wordtracker first, then export into KeywordDiscovery.com) you can get the hard numbers on these phrases. I use Wordtracker first because it has such a great thesaurus tool. Sometimes when you’re so entrenched into a niche, it’s hard to think outside the box and think of things the average searcher might type in a search engine.

2) Competitor Sites – look at what they’re using in their title, on their page and in their navigation. This may give you some other ideas for phrases.

3) Thesaurus – check with an online thesaurus (or offline thesaurus if you still believe in books!) for other ideas. For example, “shoe” might yield:

sandal
boot
clog
heels
children’s shoes
snow shoes

This is one of the most important tactics in the list (IMO). Sometimes you’ll find that clients are so entrenched in their niche that they don’t think outside of the box.

4) Online Bidding Tools – Even though I don’t use them for gathering my search metrics (bidding history is not the same data as overall search data) they’re great for generating other phrases; just ignore the search numbers and any other numeric data.

5) Client – as suggested above, ask your client to compile you a list of phrases using the criteria state.

6) Offline Advertising – look at trade magazines, pay close attention to commercial and print ads that are related to the product/services you or your client work with.

After you have their seed list, you’ll then want to make sure you have all permutations of the phrases (lawyer, lawyers, attorney, attorneys – as in the case of our attorney example).

Locally, Nationally or Globally

What about location? Is your client offering services locally, nationally or globally? Make sure that if you’re client is seeking local business/traffic only, that they send you these geographical areas along with their seed list (note: I actually send out a focus analysis that allows them to send their seed list as well as all the geographical areas they want to target):

EX:
Using our attorney example, we might get these areas:

Albuquerque
Rio Rancho
Placitas
Corrales

In this case, our attorney would take a case from any of the areas above. Our list might look something like this now:

Albuquerque personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)
Rio Rancho personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)
Placitas personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)
Corrales personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)
etc

The list, it grows!

If your client wants a site that competes at the national/global level (meaning they’ll take traffic/clients outside of their local region), you don’t have to worry about geo-targeting.

Once you’ve completed the tasks above (or your client), you’ll have a great list of phrases all ready for analysis (competitiveness, search metrics, etc).

Tips

1) Do NOT include words like:

The Best
Green
Great
Excellent
etc

2) Make sure your geographical areas are unique.

Example:

Cooks County

There are several Cooks Counties in the United States. If you find yourself in this position, try to find other geographical areas that could be possible candidates for optimization. If not, you’ll be competing against other areas. This optimization effort would be best spent optimizing your site for unique areas.

Creating two to three word keyword phrases can can bring in more relevant hits than a single keyword as shown by several studies. Limit your phrases to 3-4 words. Use your city and state in your keyword phrases if your location is important to your business. For example Web designer in Albuquerque rather than Web designer.

Now you have researched keywords! Here are some things you can do with them:

How do I create a <title>?
Use your final keyword phrases to create a title with ~65-70 characters in length. If your geographical area is important, be sure to include that as well. Don't include company slogans, promotional language, superlatives, punctuation marks or special characters as part of your title. All your most important keywords and keyword phrases should be at the beginning of your title.

How do I create copy for my site?
They copy in your site should be unique, enticing, informative and keyword rich in order to get the search engines attention. Write the content in such a way that it includes your keyword phrases in a logical manner - meaning that it reads well. DO NOT blatantly stick in your keywords here and there (keyword stuffing). Use the most important keywords near the top of the copy and mix it up. There are many ways to write the same phrases without using it in the same order. Hiring a professional SEO copywriter is always an option too (and the best one!)

How do I create a Meta description?
Using the your final keyword phrases, briefly describe your business with just a sentence or two that is around 150 characters/20-25 words. The description is used when submitting your site to some directories/search engines and it is also the copy that a person sees when a search engine query is made. Do not use all caps, dates, pronouns or other time sensitive numbers when creating your description. Use proper grammar and try to write something enticing, something that will make a person want to click to see more of. You can do this by briefly highlighting your product or services.

BIG MISTAKE!
Do not use the same meta tags and title for every page! Just like a table of contents of a book, your Meta tags should describe what is on the page - if a page isn't unique to your homepage you wouldn't need it right? Reflect what each page is about wisely using your titles and Metas. This will tell the search engines (and most importantly users) what your page is about.

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