SEO is a Dragon and Your Castle is Burning, Part 2
Welcome back, it’s good to see you yet again. If you read yesterday’s article we were going over putting the SEO puzzle together for beginners. I talked about how Matt Cutts probably has a real dragon and lives in a cloud kingdom where he keeps the Google algorithm under lock and key.
Yesterday we just got started with the 2 part SEO for beginners series and how you don’t necessarily need to be an expert to make a difference. To quickly recap, we talked about how great content, that is useful to the visitor, should be the center piece to build your SEO puzzle. Focus on one phrase or keyword per page to build your page properly.
Then we talked about the importance of URL structure with having your URL’s be 100 characters or less in length, using dashes instead of underscores, and having your main topical keyword in the URL. Let’s continue, shall we.
SEO Page Title for Beginners
Different Content Management Systems (CMS) call this a variety of things. Some may call it a page title, title tag, or SEO title. Regardless, the title tag is the title that shows up in the search result lists and the first thing that users will see before clicking on your site.
If you’ve been around the block in the SEO world, you might have heard to keep your Title Tag under 70 characters. (That includes spaces, punctuation and other characters.) While 70 characters is a good basic rule to follow, Google actually uses a pixel width limit of 520px. Which means if you max your title tag out at 70 characters, and Google Bolds highlighted keywords in your Title Tag, they could cut off the last word because it is over the pixel limit. So ultimately, using between 50-65 characters is perfect for your Title Tag
Search engines as well as users use your SEO Page Title to determine what your page is about. Place the main keyword that represents your page as far left as possible in a readable way. After your main keyword you can (separate with a pipe – |) provide more details about your page.
Example: SEO for Beginners | Putting together your SEO Puzzle
Take Away for creating a great Title Tag
Create page titles that represent what the page is about
Use between 50-65 characters for your Title Tag
Create unique page titles for each page on your site
Writing a Meta Description for Beginners
The Meta-Description is the snippet of 1-2 sentences you see in search results located right below the URL. In this you should write a brief description of what your page is about with no more than 160 characters. The Meta-Description is not considered a major factor (if any) in the search ranking algorithm but it is key for getting users to click on your site.
Your meta-description should be written naturally with your target keywords used at the start of the sentence, if possible. Use correct punctuation without overusing your keyword. (Only one time per sentence.) Think of your meta-description as a quick descriptive ad to draw the visitor to your site instead of the others you’re competing with in the search results.
In a perfect world, the length should be between 140-150 characters and no less than 51. Meta-Descriptions that are less than 51 characters are considered too short by Google. Google will most likely pull a snippet of random information out of your page content if it is too short, and they definitely will if a meta-description doesn’t exist. When you go over the 160 characters, it does you no good and will be cut off.
If your site includes a date stamp in the meta-description when you publish new pages, it is very useful when you’re constantly updating with new content, but it does take up real estate in your meta-description length.
Take Away for meta-descriptions
Write a descriptive ad about why the user should click on your site
Keep it between 140-150 characters
Write naturally but keep keywords near the start of the description
Write a unique meta-description for each page
Header Tags for SEO beginners
Heading tags are designed to help determine the topic of the page. When used properly they should go hand in hand with your newly structured URL, SEO page title tag, and meta-description. Since search engines evaluate the size of the text and position on the page, an H1 tag should be larger than and H2 and so on.
An H1 should be relevant to the page content with a variation of the pages keyword, but different than the title tag. For example, if you have a title tag “Parking at the Airport” you might want your H1 tag to be “Airport Parking Guide”. (As long as the rest of your content reflects it correctly.)
Best practices suggest having only one H1 tag per page when possible. (Some content management systems automatically set the page title as the H1) You’ll want to use the Heading tags in the correct order, meaning, don’t start with an H4 tag at the top of the page and use an H1 at the bottom.
The goal of Heading tags is to break up the content on the page to make it more readable for the user. It also helps search engines categorize different parts of your page, which in turn helps a page start ranking for a variance of keywords and phrases.
Take away for Beginners using Heading Tags
Use H-Tags in order – H1,H2, H3, H4, etc.
Place keywords in your Heading tags
Use H-tags as sub-headers for paragraphs
Never use logos or images in Header tags, only text
Whether you are a beginner to SEO, been tasked to try to improve your company’s website, or wanting to create your own site, these are some simple changes you can implement to show positive results. Again, it ultimately starts with having great information and content on your site that users will find interesting. Once you have that, the 4 corners of the puzzle will help you optimize it correctly.
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