There was a time when people wrote online almost exclusively for search engines. But as Google’s algorithms have changed, and since people’s behaviour on the internet has also changed (largely due to social media and smartphones), the days of writing keyword-laden content to rank high in search engines is finished.
Nowadays, Google wants to show its users quality content, which is why your content needs to be valuable. But to make sure your writing gets found, you need to have the right keywords in the right places.
Here's our 8-item checklist to make sure you've got your keywords in the right place.
1. Title tag
This is the piece of text that appears in the tabs of most browsers. Getting your keyword in here is extremely important. Remember that whatever you write here will show up in search engines first.
2. Description tag
The description tag is what Google shows under the title tag on its SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Your goal is to get your keywords in here within the optimum number of characters – 156 including spaces.
3. Keyword tags
The title tag and the description tag are a part of the head section of your website. Others include keyword tags, although Google has stopped using meta tags since 2009.
However, if you do wish to include them (you still can), make sure they come after the previous two type of tags. So remember to prioritise your tags in this order:
Title Tag > Description Tag > Keyword Tags.
4. Word count
There was a time when Google didn’t care so much about how many words were on your page, instead focusing on what keywords were there. But this has changed. As a rule of thumb, try to have your blog posts within 600 words. This will help it up the rankings.
5. Alt tags
You know that text that appears when you roll your mouse over an image? That text is called an ‘Alt Tag’ (short for Alternative Tag). This is another piece of text to tell search engines your content is relevant to a search term. It will also help images on your website appear in image results for image searches – another way to send traffic to your website.
6. Tailored URLs
Time and time again I come across websites that have URLs that look something like colmswebsite.com/9456039. Now, ‘9456039’ could be a page on anything from travel tips to social media advice.
The only problem is nobody will know it from a URL like that. Instead you need to tailor your URL so the keywords are in there.
7. External links
It might seem like linking from your website to a third party website is a bad idea but it isn’t for a few reasons. Linking out to other sites can trigger trackable traffic by way of reciprocal linking, it can make your site more valuable (if you’re wondering who does good outdoor sports in Interlaken, click on that link and you’ll find out!) and it can encourage contribution.
8. Internal links
On the flip side, linking internally to your own pages increases the value of each and every blog post – you’re letting your readers know you’ve a post written on how to get more followers on Instagram or tips on creating a successful Facebook ad campaign.
Try to have at least an internal or external link included in your blog post.
- Do you have keywords in your title?
- Are these keywords also in your description of 156 characters including spaces?
- Are you using a meta or keyword tag? If you are, make sure it's good.
- Is your post less than 600 words?
- Have you added Alt tags to all your images?
- What about your URLs? Do they tell readers what the post is about?
- Did you inlcude any links to external sites?
- How about including internal links to other posts you've written?
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Written by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.