There was a time when keyword density meant the difference between good page rank and no page rank. You add a few key words here and there, make them more prominent with header tags and wait for your rank to rise.
Thank goodness, search engines figured out that game because many of those pages were eye sores that made you wonder, “why them and not me?” Despite the downgrade, title tags, headers and meta descriptions still matter but not in the way you think.
User search is about being relevant. If you are able to answer their questions in meaningful ways, the search engine will consider your content valuable enough to show to others. It’s not about pleasing search engines anymore. It’s about helping the people, which is the way it should be. Here’s how you can professionally help your posts become more relevant by
Proper Use of Header Tags in Posts
Using header tags smartly in your posts helps you on-site SEO efforts. But not all of them matter and in many cases, location is key.
- The <H1> tag is the most important but should only be used once on a page. Otherwise, it looks like you’re trying too hard to get search engine attention and that makes them suspicious.
- <H2> tags are also good to have but within reason. While you don’t need to use them only once, you should only use it where it makes sense as a proper sub-header in your post. Ideally you want to incorporate a key phrase in the sub-header IF it can be integrated naturally.
- <H3> and the others aren’t as important as far as SEO is concerned. You can use them as you see fit but, again, it’s about making the post readable
- Using header tags in the menu is a waste as it’s unnecessary. So just stick to using them in your post.
Specifics of Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Titles and meta descriptions are what pop up on SERPs (search engine results pages). If you take a look, you’ll see the search engines bolds the terms that match your query. This is where your relevance is shown to the user by the search engine.
For example, I did a search for creamy macaroni and cheese and here are the first three results:
The first two results have my search term in the meta descriptions and they are bolded by the search engine to let me know that they might be better matches. Also notice that these sites rank higher than the Food Network!
That is why its important to make sure your title tags and meta descriptions are in great shape. Here are a few specs to keep in mind:
- Make sure title tags are between 50-60 characters and that includes your site name. Search engines tend to cut off anything more than 60 characters with ellipsis, which looks incomplete. To be on the safe side, shoot for 55 characters.
- Meta descriptions need to be between 150 and 160 characters. The same cut off principle applies for these as well. Make sure keywords appear in both the title tags as well as in the beginning of your description. The standard is that search engines place more importance on the beginning of your title tag than the end. So make sure your keywords appear in the beginning!
- Remember your call-to-action (CTA). I sound like a parrot but let’s think about this. You have this post that you want people to read. The best way to get them to go and read it is to tell them to go and read it. Learn more, Read here…ask the user to perform the specific action.
- While meta descriptions won’t help your site rank, they will help your click through rate. If you show people that what you can answer their questions, they are more likely to click.
- Always write for humans.
If you’re serious about your posts, it’s good to make sure you make these adjustments in a way that is smart and natural.
A quick note: If you have a blog on WordPress and use a plugin called Yoast SEO, you’ll be able to easily alter your title tags and meta descriptions as well as get guidance about other ways to improve your discoverability.