How to Optimize Your Website Content for SEO

Is your website content properly optimized for SEO?

When it comes to maintaining great rankings, content truly is king. With the right combination of content and inbound links, you can establish your website as a valuable resource — a resource that Google rewards with great rankings and organic search visibility for its target keywords.

Unfortunately, many marketers spend month after month building links to their website, only to see it fail to rank due to poorly optimized on-page content.

Optimizing your website content for SEO is a surprisingly simple process that can result in big, measurable and immediate improvements in your rankings when done right. From title tags to copy, small changes to your on-page SEO can lead to serious improvements in your rankings.

This means more visibility in organic search, more traffic, more leads and — if you’re selling a product or service on your website — more sales.

Are you struggling to reach the top positions for your target keywords in organic search? If you already have some strong links pointing to your website but just can’t seem to rank, follow the steps below to optimize your website content for SEO and improve your rankings.

The basics of on-page optimization

On-page optimization is one of two aspects of SEO. It involves making sure your page is the most relevant, detailed and helpful result for its target search keywords.

A lot of marketers treat on-page SEO as an afterthought and spend most of their time building links. While on-page optimization isn’t quite as glamorous as link building, it’s just as important for great rankings and should always your first priority when optimizing a website for search.

The basics of on-page optimization all boil down to the three words you read earlier: relevant, detailed and helpful.

  • Your content should be highly relevant to its target keywords
  • Your content should be as detailed as possible to fully explain its topic
  • Your content should be helpful, since readers link to and share helpful content
Simple, right? While the fundamentals of optimizing your website content for SEO are simple, the actual practice of on-page optimization is a little more involved. Below, we’ve covered the first step in the on-page optimization process: optimizing your page’s title tag.

Include your main keyword in your title tag

Your website’s title is the large, bold text you see in Google’s search results when you find it listed in the SERPs. It’s also the title you see in the title bar of your browser, or in the specific tab in which you’ve opened your website.

Google uses your page’s title tag to assess its topic, making it important that you include your main keyword in the title. Testing shows that putting your keyword at or near the start of the title tag is optimal for SEO.

For example, pretend you’re creating a page about microwave ovens, with a primary keyword of “best microwaves.” To increase your chances of ranking for “best microwaves,” you should use the target keyword at the beginning of the title tag, like in the example below:

In this example, the target keyword is right at the beginning of the title. Google’s crawler knows that the page is all about the best microwaves, and as a result, it’s far more likely to place this page near the top of the search results for “best microwaves.”

In the example below, the target keyword is still included, but it’s right at the end of the title tag and isn’t as obvious as the theme of the page:

In general, you want to use your primary SEO keyword once in the title of the page, as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible. You should also try to use your target SEO keyword in the page’s URL, like in the above examples.

Optimize your meta description for CTR, not SEO

Your page’s meta description is the short description that appears beneath the title and URL in Google’s search engine results. Meta descriptions don’t have a huge effect on SEO, but it’s still worth including your target keyword in your meta description to increase relevance.

For the most part, it’s better to optimize your meta descriptions for CTR, instead of SEO, as an excellent meta description can help you generate more traffic from organic search by increasing user interest in your website.

Title and meta tag optimization in WordPress

If you’re using WordPress, you can simplify title and meta tag optimization using a plugin like SEO Ultimate. The example below shows how to add your title and meta content to a page or post using SEO Ultimate and WordPress:

Key points about page title and meta description optimization:

  • Include your main keyword in your title tag, as close to the start of the title as possible
  • Your title tag should only target your main keyword, not several secondary keywords
  • Don’t worry too much about your meta description for SEO, but focus on a great CTR

Use keywords in your H1, H2 and H3 tags

Now that we’ve gotten title and meta tags out of the way, let’s move on to the content that’s on your page. Website content can be divided into two categories, both of which are important for optimizing your page for organic search:

  • Headings, such as text enclosed in H1, H2 and H3 tags
  • Paragraph text, which is usually inside p tags

First, let’s look at H1, H2 and H3 tags, since they plan an important role in sorting your content on the page and making it readable.

H1, H2 and H3 tags are used to create headings and subheadings on your page. Generally, the most important tag is the H1 tag, which is used for the page’s main heading. If you scroll back to the top of this page, you can see the following text in the H1 tag:

“How to Optimize Your Website Content for SEO”

You should only use the H1 tag once on your page, for the main heading. Including your target keyword in the H1 tag signals to Google that your page is about that specific topic, improving its relevance and making it more likely to rank in organic search for its target SEO keywords.

Using our “best microwaves” example above, our H1 text should be something like this:

“The Best Microwaves Reviews and Rated”

As you can see, the target keyword is used close to the beginning of the heading, and the text describes what users will find on the page.

H2 and H3 tags are slightly different. Instead of being used for your main heading, they’re used for subheadings (and sub-subheadings). Try and use your secondary keywords in your H2 and H3 tags, since they’ll show Google that your page also covers several subtopics.

For example, our “best microwaves” page might also target several other search keywords:

  • “large microwaves”
  • “budget microwaves”
  • “small microwaves”
  • “countertop microwaves”

To optimize the page for multiple keywords at once, you can use each of these keywords in an H2 tag to break up the page and show Google that it has several sections, each talking about a different subtopic. For example, an H2 subheading for “countertop microwaves” could be:

“Reviews of Countertop Microwaves”

Your H2 and H3 tags can be short one to two word keyphrases, or they can be longer headings that explain your content. In general, it’s best to keep your H2 and H3 tags under 60 characters, so that they read like subheadings instead of full sentences.

Key points about H1, H2 and H3 optimization:

  • Include your main keyword in the H1 tag to tell Google what your page is about
  • Use the H2 and H3 tags to target your secondary and long tail keywords
  • For smaller volume keywords, you can also use H4, H5 and H6 tags

Naturally include keywords in your content

We’ve gotten headings out of the way. Now it’s time to move on and start optimizing the body of your page — your website’s paragraph text.

Paragraph text is the content on your website that isn’t part of a title tag or navigational menu. It makes up about 90% of the content on most websites, and it’s the content that users will read to find more information about the subject of your page.

This text — the text you’re reading now — is paragraph text. Optimizing your paragraph text is the simplest aspect of on-page SEO, since all you need to do is include your target keywords every now and then (but not too often) to show Google that your website content is relevant.

Let’s return to our “best microwaves” example above. In order to optimize your website content for SEO, you should occasionally include your target keyword in your paragraph text, all without using it unnaturally often.

For example, the paragraph text on our microwaves website could read like this:

“Are you interested in buying a new microwave? We have user reviews of the best microwaves from leading brands like GE, Panasonic and Sharp to help you make the right decision and buy the best equipment for your kitchen.

Browse our list of microwave reviews below or read our sections dedicated to large microwaves, budget microwaves, small microwaves and countertop microwaves to find the kitchen appliance you’re looking for.”

This content reads and feels natural, all while still mentioning our target microwave keywords. In the example below, the keywords we’re targeting in our H1, H2 and H3 tags are bolded to show how they’re been naturally included in the content.

“Are you interested in buying a new microwave? We have user reviews of the best microwaves from leading brands like GE, Panasonic and Sharp to help you make the right decision and buy the best equipment for your kitchen.

Browse our list of microwave reviews below or read our sections dedicated to large microwaves, budget microwaves, small microwaves and countertop microwaves to find the kitchen appliance you’re looking for.”

See how the keywords are naturally included in the content, all without it feeling like they’re in there artificially? Your paragraph text should include your keywords naturally so that it’s easy to read, all while being highly relevant to the search keywords you’re targeting.

How often should you use your SEO keywords?

One of the most hotly debated aspects of on-page optimization is keyword density. This is the frequency with which you use keywords, typically expressed as a percentage. For example, if you use a keyword five times per 100 words, your content has a 5% keyword density.

It’s best not to worry about keyword density, since Google is smart enough to detect what your page is about without you having to overuse your keywords. In general, you should make sure that each of your target keywords is used once or twice, but not so much as to feel unnatural.

If you feel like a certain keyword appears in your paragraph content too much, try replacing it with a related keyword. These are known as LSI keywords, and they’re keywords that Google can detect are related to your primary target keywords.

It’s best not to think too much about LSI keywords or keyword density in general, since it’s easy to over-optimize. Instead of worrying about exact percentages, focus on writing the best content you can, since content that’s highly relevant will help users and attract natural inbound links.

Google’s Matt Cutts expands on keyword density in this video, pointing out that there’s no need to overuse your target keywords in your paragraph text. Keep it natural and Google will realize your content is relevant without thinking you’re overusing keywords on purpose.

Key points about paragraph text optimization:

  • Use keywords in your paragraph text naturally, without them feeling artificial or stilted
  • Don’t worry too much about exact keyword density — just keep it natural and relevant
  • Try to include variations of your keywords, since they’ll expand your page’s reach
  • Never stuff your page with keywords, since Google can easily detect manipulation

Optimize your images for Google Image Search

Your website content isn’t only text — it also includes the images that appear on your page. By optimizing your image filenames, alt tags and title tags, you can improve the relevance of your page for its target keywords and generate traffic from Google Image Search.

Google has explained that the information you attach to images plays a significant role in their Image Search rankings, so it’s important to tag every image you use on your page.

Start by giving all of your images relevant filenames. For example, if we’re uploading an image of a microwave to our “best microwaves” website, a filename like “large-microwave.jpg” would signal to Google that the image is a picture of a large microwave.

You can also use the alt attribute to give each of your page’s images an alt text. The alt text will show up if your image won't display due to connection or compatibility issues. An appropriate alt text for the image described above would be “Large microwave inside kitchen.

Finally, the title tag is used to provide additional information about an image. This text shows up when a user hovers their mouse cursor over an image. For our microwave picture, we could use a title text like “This large microwave is ideal for full-size family kitchens.

If you’re using WordPress for your website, you can easily add tags to your images in the Media Library. The example below shows where you should include your keywords for optimal Google Image Search results:

In addition to using the Media Library to optimize your images, plugins like Yoast SEO make it easy to check that your image tags are optimized for your target SEO keywords whenever you publish a new post or page.

Key points about optimizing images for SEO:

  • Include your main keyword in the title and alt tags of your images, if appropriate
  • If possible, include relevant keywords in your image filenames

Page content length and search engine rankings

Finally, it’s important to make sure that your content is long and detailed enough to explain its topic in detail. Google’s goal is to serve the most relevant, helpful page for every keyword, and length is closely correlated with relevance and value.

Data shows that pages with long form content (text content of 2,000+ words) usually outrank shorter pages for competitive keywords. The top-ranked results for most search terms usually have at least 2,400 words of content, with lower-ranked pages usually lighter on content.

This doesn’t mean you need to write a lengthy essay to optimize your website content for SEO, but it does mean that you should focus on making sure your content covers its topic in a great level of detail, answering any possible questions a searcher might have.

Simple, right? In many ways, on-page SEO can be explained in one sentence: Google loves (and ranks) relevant, detailed and useful content that helps users find what they’re searching for.

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