One of the most common questions I hear at Blogging shows and from Affiliate Marketers within my company’s program is “How do I get my posts/pages to rank better in the search engines?”. Most bloggers cannot afford a good SEO firm and can feel lost. If SEO seems like a mystery and the guides you read are written with a ton of confusing terms, here are 5 things that you can do (written in plain English) to help you rank your pages/posts better in the search engines.
- Keyword Density Reduction
- Minimum Word Counts
- Internal Links
- H Tags
- Naming Your Images
Keyword Density Reduction
Your keyword density is a measure of how many times you use a specific keyword for every 100 words on a page. If you use it 1 out of 100 words, you have a 1% keyword density. Although a popular plugin for SEO gives a green light from a 1.5 to 2.5 keyword density, that plugin and feature was added a long time ago.
During the last Panda algorithm update, I saw higher rankings on pages where I reduced the keyword density from the 2 – 2.5% mark to around 1% or less on some pages on my own websites. I also changed the copy to be more about the user and informative so that it could solve a problem. Instead of using the tool to give me the go-ahead on keyword density, solving problems with clear and useful advice (while using some of the other points below) is what is now helping me to get better positions within the search engines.
Minimum Word Counts
As a best practice, pages should have a minimum of 350 words. However, it looks like the majority of first page rankings for informative pages or problem solving queries (blog posts) have much higher word counts. That doesn’t mean you should try to write 2,000 words per post or page, but it does mean that you should thoroughly explain a solution to a problem and write at a level that is appropriate for your readers.
A report from SerpIQ shows that longer content continually ranks higher in the search results, with 2,000+ words performing best.
Now, when you see that some of the best content in Google is ranking because it has 2,000 words of content, you might be a little bit scared. Not because of the amount of sites rankings, but instead because of the word count. Many people will often ask how many pages is 2,000 words? With a website or blog, you would actually want to keep all of this content on one individual page, as this will help it rank better. However, to answer the question — with 1 page (physical paper) often being 500 words, then 2,000 words would be four pages of written content.
If you’re wondering how Google knows which page to rank and for what without a heavy keyword density, your internal links are one way to help. Internal links are links off of specific words from a page on your website to another page on your website. By linking off of these words to another page within your site, you’re telling the search engines that this is what that page is about and the page you’d like to rank for a specific keyword or phrase.
If you’re writing about blue widgets and you have a guide on how to use them or a page where you sell them, you may want link off of the words blue widgets as you mention this is how to use or where to buy them. The trick with internal links is to make sure you link to the same page each time and you also only link when it will be relevant and create a better user experience for your website visitor.
H tags are header tags and normally increase and decrease the size of the font on your page. You will normally see H1, H2, H3, H4 and H5 within long posts. H tags tell the search engines what the section or subsection of the page is about. You may want your main Keyword phrase to be in the H1 and possibly H2 or H3 tags, but don’t stuff it if it doesn’t flow naturally. Think of it like a recipe you’re reading about how to make.
H1 is the title of the recipe
H2 is the section where you say how to prepare it
H3 would be the ingredients list, you may want to use another for the how to prepare the recipe, you could have an H4 under this one for ingredients and tools used to make it and go back to another H3 tag for how to serve the dish.
You can see an example of how different H tags and internal linking are used on a site in the screenshot below. (source)
One important thing to know is that you should not use H tags out of order (skipping from H1 to H3 descending but you can do it going back up). You may also want to avoid using more than 1 H1 tag on a page. You could do H1, H2, H3, H3, H4 or H1, H2, H3, H4, H3, but you do not want to do H1, H4, H3, H2, H5.
Naming Your Images
Naming your images means the actual name of it as you upload it to your website. You want your image name to be descriptive of the content of the post. You’ll also want to include an alt tag which matches or is similar to the image name. You do not want to stuff or spam either of these as that is a good way to get a small devaluation of the page. There is a place to add a title to an image, but it is debatable if that actually helps.
Google and some of the other search engines are less focused on keywords and old, spammy techniques. Now they want a solid user experience and are rewarding some sites that guide them through and tell them what a page is about based on their own guidelines. If you’ve been focusing on keyword densities and other outdated techniques, you may want to take a couple of posts and see if you can increase rankings on them by making it about the end user, following best practices and see if the page climbs a bit.
This article was written by Adam, who runs one of the leading affiliate management companies. You can find him speaking at tradeshows like Affiliate Summit, Pubcon and Type-A Parent as well as find his columns on blogs like Search Engine Journal. Visit his site at http://www.adamriemer.me or follow him on Twitter.