Content CreationDemand GenerationMarketing Strategy

Five Places to Make Your Keywords Count

By January 9, 2012 2 Comments

Credit: Neil T. via Flickr

Today’s post comes courtesy of Chris Peterson of Chicago-based web design agency Straight North. Read more about him at the end of the post.

Search Engine Optimization as a practice is constantly evolving. Search engines like Google frequently adjust their strategies and tweak algorithms to be as effective as possible. As marketers, part of our job is to stay one step ahead of them.

One element on our side is that people searching the Internet will always start by typing in what they seek. As long as they rely on keyword searches, we can use our own strategies to direct them to the right products and services.

Because search engine algorithms seem so fluid, much of what we know about keyword strategy is based on guesswork and extensive trial and error. Below are a few effective keyword placement strategies. Much of this information is relevant to online press releases and blog posts, and some can be applied to onsite content.

Press Release Titles and Headlines

The keywords you drop into your headline won’t be linked to other pages, but that makes no difference to the search engine that spots them. If you’re able, put the keyword phrase in your headline in a way that flows naturally and includes a reference to your target company. For example, if your keywords are fume hood controls, you might go with a headline/subhead like this:

 Company ABC, a Leader in Fume Hood Controls, Unveils New Flow Monitors

New Air Flow Monitors Provide Crucial Measurements for Labs, Says Company ABC, a Leading Provider of Fume Hood Controls and Components

Headline keywords serve multiple purposes. In addition to SEO, keywords can help make your headline stand out when it’s stacked with others.

Strategic Placement in the Body

The text of your blog post or press release must include relevant keywords. As a rule, try to include them in the first and last paragraphs. By placing your keyword phrase high, it’s more likely to catch the attention of a search engine. For a medium-size post (300 to 500 words), this should be plenty for the body. However, if it runs longer, it’s OK to add more.

Make sure they are spaced, with no fewer than 100 words separating keyword mentions. If you place them more frequently than that, you risk being flagged by search engines, and your efforts will be wasted. These rules apply to SEO done within an actual webpage, as well.

Including Keywords in the URL

This strategy applies more to website-based SEO. If you have the ability to select the name of the URL, use SEO keywords. Separate each word with a hyphen, rather than an underscore. A URL with keywords can attract the attention of search engines, although it’s important to maintain an SEO-friendly body, as well.

Boilerplate and Footer Text

Major search engines, such as Google, can spot repeated content—often referred to as “boilerplate” text. In the context of an online press release, boilerplate text is frequently used at the footer as a way to summarize a company and to provide contact details. This is important information, so keep it in.

But when it comes to SEO, it’s less important to have your keyword phrases here (less important, but not unimportant). You should include keywords so that your press release is identified by the smaller search engines that do not distinguish boilerplate text, but be aware that it won’t make a huge difference when it comes to rank.

Meta Tags and Descriptions

The importance of meta tags—once considered a leading tool for SEO—has been diluted over the years as webmasters have bloated them to the point of near irrelevance. Search engines currently consider meta tags to be less important, and they’ve minimized their importance in search algorithms. However, you shouldn’t overlook them entirely.

The major search engines, such as Google, have all but eliminated meta tags from consideration, but that’s not necessarily the case for smaller engines. For that reason, anything that gives you even a slight edge is worth your time.

Similarly, meta descriptions are important. These are the brief paragraphs you see displayed with search results. While less important to SEO, these descriptions help to distinguish your site in a list of search results, helping to drive more traffic. Because major search engines tend to ignore meta descriptions in their algorithms, specific keyword phrases are not important here.

In summary, where you place your keywords is as important as the keywords themselves. Follow these tips, and be sure to take note of evolving trends so that you can get the most from your SEO efforts.

Chris Peterson is a copywriter for Straight North, a Chicago web design agency. He specializes in B2B and B2C marketing, with experience in informational blog posts, press releases, and website content that emphasizes Search Engine Optimization. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he earned a Master’s degree in journalism.

Straight North provides a full range of online marketing services, including its innovative Chicago Web design group and highly experienced Chicago SEO team. The agency serves several types of businesses, from merchant processing service providers to companies that sell fire resistant clothing. Straight North develops strategy and executes marketing programs for clients with lead generation and e-commerce websites, and market regionally, nationally or internationally. Follow Straight North on Twitter and connect with Straight North on Facebook.

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