Like many other search marketers, I spend a fair amount of time impressing on clients the need for keyword research. But when that process is done, I’m often asked, “Now what?” We spend a lot of time stressing the need to locate the right keywords, but maybe not as much time on how to use them.
So, here’s a quick primer on the “perfect storm” of keyword usage inside a web site.
Let’s say you have a section/page on the web site with a collection of articles devoted to real estate advice –- helpful tips and information for people selling a house. You’ve decided the primary keyword for this page is “home selling tips.” That exact keyword should appear in the following six places:
- In the page title.
- In at least one, preferably more, text links pointing to the page; i.e., home selling tips >>
- In the URL of the page; i.e., http://www.yourdomain.com/home-selling-tips.html — note, however, that two dashes is what I’d consider to be the limit. If your keyword is 4-5 words, I wouldn’t recommend writing it out with dashes like this. I’d shorten it to 1-2 dashes at most to avoid having a spammy-looking URL.
- In the header tag of the page text; i.e., h1 = Home Selling Tips
- In the page text; i.e., “The following home selling tips will help make the experience of putting your home on the market more enjoyable, and should help you sell your house for the best price.”
- In the META description tag; i.e., META name=”description” content=”Home selling tips and advice from John Doe, a licensed real estate agent serving Spokane, Washington (WA). If you have questions about how to sell a home for the best price, this article will help… blah-blah.”
I’ve listed these in order of importance, so if something prevents you from placing the keyword in all six places, you can prioritize them as I have above. (Frankly, I expect I’ll get a comment or two saying this list risks the proverbial “over-optimization” penalty, and it would be better not to put the keyword in all six places. We’ll see.)
Now, how about a 3-part disclaimer?
1. Page titles need to be unique. So if there’s some reason why you must have more than one page targeting the same keyword, make sure your page titles aren’t the same. Ditto for meta tags.
2. Anchor text is also best when it varies from link to link. Don’t stuff the keyword into every link on your site that points to this page.
3. With the header tags (h1, h2, etc.) and the page text, always write naturally. Don’t stuff the keyword unnaturally. Use similar/related phrases and always write with humans in mind.
There you go. Six steps toward proper keyword usage. What would you add? What would you change?