A Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-page SEO
Understanding the principles of the work of search robots gives the optimizer significant advantages. It is also possible to develop certain methods of promoting the page, which can later be combined and experimented with. Today, there are many recommendations for advanced SEO on a page, especially for keyword targeting. Further in this article, we will look at the well-known principles of ranking content by search engines and methods of effective SEO-promotion of web pages. This is all based on the best practices of SEO-optimizers, webmasters, and marketers.
In the process of ranking, the search engine tries to understand what type of content is on each page of the site. While search algorithms are smart enough today, they cannot look at a page and understand its content in the same way that humans do. To help them in this, you need to adhere to some rules and recommendations. The better Google understands what content is on a page, the better your chances are to possess a higher place in the search results.
The main problem is that Google representatives never disclosed the exact rules of their algorithms in order to prevent abuse in search engine optimization. However, over the years of analyzing documentation research conducted by SEO specialists, marketers, and website owners, it has been possible to accumulate enough experience and identify some of the factors that affect the relevance of a page. These factors should not be considered the undeniable truth. Search algorithms are constantly updated and developed. The best thing is to experiment on your own. The best result can only be achieved by experience. But, knowing some of the nuances, there can definitely be fewer errors. Useful related article – Google Algorithms That Affect SEO.
Initially, the main idea of using keyword searches was that relevant search phrases were present in the most important places on the page, from the point of view of search algorithms. These places usually included: Title, H1, H2, H3 headers, text on the page, and alternative descriptions of images <alt>. Read important articles on the topic – Title Tags and H1 Tag.
Today, keyword placement on a landing page remains an important factor in internal website SEO. However, the impact of keywords on page rankings has dropped significantly according to previous research. The main ranking factor is content, which is more focused on the user and the quality of the information than on keywords. Related article – On-Page SEO.
Despite this fact, the use of key phrases should not be neglected as they still play a large role in page rankings. This conclusion can be made by analyzing at least two of the following facts:
- Google’s main source of income is from selling searches and advertising. Google earns more than forty billion dollars from this per year.
- Search algorithms use keywords in order to understand the user’s request and respond to it as accurately as possible.
Based on this, only one conclusion can be drawn. Researching keywords and using them correctly on the landing page is an undeniable advantage over competitors.
Keywords on the Page
Each web page has specific parts. Typically these are the header, sidebars, main body, and footer. Modern search algorithms can easily identify the most important parts. Here is an approximate web page segmentation scheme.
Practice shows that the content located in the main part of the page is of the greatest importance to Google. As a rule, text with certain keywords is placed here. Duplicating text or spamming it with search phrases can have a negative impact on rankings.
Recently, more and more attention is paid to the mobile version of the page. Its presence has a positive effect on search engine promotion. Segments are often missing in the mobile version. Search algorithms try to provide the user with the most important information, so you need to pay special attention to the main part of the mobile version of the page. Read more – Mobile Search.
In addition, when creating a web page, you should pay attention to the tags <nav>, <aside> and <article>, which became available in HTML5. Their correct application simplifies the task of search robots by explicitly specifying certain sections.
It was already mentioned that the key searches play a much smaller role than before. The relationships between phrases and words are much more important. It is with the help of links that search robots understand the content of the text and its compliance with the search. Therefore, it is very important to do extensive research, correctly place and optimize keywords on the page.
Competently composed, interesting, and informative content will include:
- Primary and secondary keywords: They should fit in as naturally as possible. When reading the text, the user should not notice an unnatural use of words or phrases in the wrong form, or their too frequent use.
- Synonyms and phrases with the same meaning: According to statistics, Google crawlers process more than 6 billion searches per day. With such a huge base of search phrases, the algorithms are able and continue to learn to accurately determine the purpose of the user’s search. Therefore, Google is very good at understanding synonymous phrases used in almost 70% of queries.
In addition, close variants of phrases, which may differ in several words but have the same search goal, are of great importance. Search robots identify words and phrases that are close in meaning and use them to make a conclusion about the content of the article. In response to a specific search, text may appear that does not contain a direct occurrence of the search but it is relevant in meaning in Google search results.
That is why Google experts advise focusing on people when writing content, using clear and natural language.
- Entity relations: A detailed description of them is beyond the scope of this article. Here we will consider only the basic concepts. In the process of page ranking, relationships between entities play an important role. Google considers an entity to be a concept that is specific, unique, singular, and distinguishable. In practice, it can be anything, for example, a person, book, fruit, piece of furniture, building, brand, domain, etc. There can be relationships between entities. This whole scheme can be represented as a graph with vertices and edges.
To understand how entities work, consider a more specific example with US presidents. Search results for the key search “president of united states”:
SEPR displays information about the current president of the United States. Thus, we can conclude that the “Donald Trump” entity and the “President of America” entity are related. But if you change this connection using one word, you can see completely different results:
In this example, only one word was additionally used but it still changed the relationship between the entities.
Using knowledge about entities, you can effectively optimize the content on the page. For example, if the text is about the state structure of Great Britain, it should contain the following phrases and words: “queen”, “parliament”, “house of Lords”, “conservative party,” and others to increase the relevance. They will allow the scanner to understand that the content is really useful and responds to a user’s search on the political system of the UK. Related article – What is the SERP in 2020?
Organizing content correctly allows Google to analyze the relationship between keywords and entities in order to draw conclusions about its topic and usefulness. In the process of analyzing text, search robots find the most important keywords, synonyms, and related phrases. This allows you to clarify the relationship between them. There are three main factors to consider to properly organize your content:
- Position of keywords in the text
- Correct distance between phrases and words
- Frequency of use of words and related phrases
Let’s consider in more detail each of their points.
Let’s consider the elements of the page on which the use of keywords is the most accurate and effective in terms of SEO and targeting.
1. Title of the page: It is recommended to use the keyword that promotes the page in the title and as close to its beginning as possible. Search engine crawlers take headlines into account when determining relevance. It is also user-friendly. After getting the search results, users can look at the page titles and notice the search phrase in the title in a more expanded form. This significantly increases the probability of transition.
2. Meta description: According to Google representatives, the meta description is not used by the search engine in the ranking process. However, this meta tag remains very important and filling it in correctly with the keyword will drive traffic. The main purpose of a meta description is to grab the user’s attention and motivate them to navigate to the page.
As you can see from the screenshot above, if you include keywords in the description, they become bold. This increases visibility and improves the likelihood of clicking on the link. A well-written meta description with keywords is a good way to draw users’ attention to the promoted page. Learn more in the article – How to Build a Nice Meta Description.
3. URL: A well-formed URL needs to combine several important aspects. One of these aspects is the use of key phrases in the page address. In this situation, you can also get several benefits at once. First, the URL is used by search engine crawlers in the ranking process. Secondly, it can act as an anchor text with keywords. For example, this can be important when users share a link to a page by copying it.
4. H1 Headings: Over the years, there have been different opinions of webmasters and SEO specialists regarding the use of keywords in H1 tags. Let’s look at this from the user’s perspective. After going to the page with the searched content, one will be unpleasantly surprised if they see a phrase in the title of the content that has nothing to do with the search. This is also true the other way around. If the H1 tag contains a keyword or a phrase similar in meaning, it is a good sign for the user because it signals that they found the necessary information. The following screenshot demonstrates the correct use of the keyword in the URL and H1 heading.
5. Text in the main segment of the page: As mentioned above, Google uses a sophisticated algorithm to measure the relevance, quality, and subject matter of text content. The use of primary, secondary keywords, synonyms, and similar phrases is very important. It should be understood that the number of exact occurrences of the key search today is almost irrelevant. However, if the number of occurrences is too high, it can negatively impact your page rank. It is appropriate to compose texts that are easy and natural to read without unnecessary repetitions, tautologies, or overspam. A person who reads the text for the first time should not notice the excessive use of certain phrases. If users like the content, search engines will definitely like it.
6. Images on the page and alternative description tags <alt>: Many webmasters underestimate the presence of keyword-targeted images. They can be a significant help in attracting traffic because they are displayed in the image search for certain search phrases. Not only is the description in the <alt> tag very important for search robots but also the file name and image name. For Google, image alt text is equivalent to the anchor text in a text link. Read the related article – SEO Images.
Distance between Keywords and Related Phrases on the Page
If we are talking about the correct distance between key searches in the text, then we should not talk about physical distance but about the so-called semantic distance. These indicators differ significantly. Semantic distance means the quantitative relationship between phrases and words used in the text. It also gives the crawler a clue of how different words, terms, and phrases are grouped together into meaningful groups, such as sentences, paragraphs, and other HTML elements.
Google infers relatedness by measuring the distance between words in HTML elements. Thus, the closer different words and phrases are located, for example, in the same sentence or in the same paragraph, the more closely they are connected. There are ways to reduce this distance. For example, search algorithms might consider a heading equally remote to all words in the text.
In addition, it is possible to explicitly define the relationship between words and phrases in the text. You can do this by using the Schema.org markup. This method is used quite rarely even though it has obvious advantages. Using the explicit schema markup, you can eliminate any guesswork by search algorithms about the relationship of phrases in the content. The main disadvantage of this approach is the need to apply special markup, which can be time-consuming in some cases.
Nevertheless, this concept is very promising and, quite possibly, it will be widely used in the near future.
The Google patent can be viewed here.
Keyword Frequency and TF-IDF
The frequency of words and phrases used in text is an important metric used by search algorithms to determine the topic of the text. Using a special calculation formula, search robots also evaluate the importance of content. To do this, a large number of documents are compared for the frequency of using a certain keyword. After that, the index of the frequency of occurrence of key phrases in a specific text is compared with expectations. Then, Google draws a conclusion about the importance of a particular document.
For example, we can use the search service from Google Ngram. With its help, we can look at the frequency graph of the words “foot”, “ball,” and “football player”.
It can be seen from the graph that the phrase “football player” is much less common. From this we can conclude that its value on the page with the mention of this keyword is larger.
It is important to understand that a high TF-IDF index alone will not significantly increase the page rank. There is no point in striving to increase this indicator artificially, when not paying attention to other promotion concepts. TF-IDF is just another search algorithm tool to ensure that content on web pages is as relevant to searches as possible, as well as useful and interesting to users. You can read more about TF-IDF and its use in search ranking in the research. Google patents mentioning different TF-IDF variants is here.
It is impossible to imagine a properly optimized web page without applying keyword grouping. Although many webmasters and SEO specialists still underestimate and ignore clustering. Instead of doing keyword research to get a single focus keyword phrase, it’s much more efficient to create a whole list that can be used to modernize existing content and create new content.
Correctly created keyword clusters for a specific landing page can significantly increase organic traffic. Additionally, the keyword grouping process allows you to see new opportunities for creating content and landing pages, notice old gaps in existing content, and effectively eliminate them. For example, it may be enough to just add one or more extended keyword phrases to drive additional traffic.
How to Do Keyword Clustering Correctly
There are several popular ways to group keywords. However, they all have one foundation: keyword research. In order to properly create groups, you need to first conduct extensive research on keywords. The main goal of the study is to collect as many words and phrases as possible, regardless of their quality. In the future, all of them will be filtered out. Inappropriate and low-quality phrases will be removed.
There are many ways to conduct research on searches. It is advisable to collect keywords from at least eight different sources. Don’t ignore pre-existing data. You can also get creative with the process and generate a few ideas yourself, brainstorm and analyze competitors’ keywords. There are many online services today to facilitate and automate this process. An important article on the topic is SEO Competitive Analysis.
The next stage of clustering is to combine searches into semantic groups. A detailed consideration of this process is beyond the scope of this material. We will only consider the main stages and criteria of the thematic grouping.
- Determine the frequency of the use of words and phrases. To do this, you need to break the search phrases into separate words, filter out unnecessary ones, and use any service to count the frequency of words and phrases. For example, Writewords. The analysis of this information will help to better understand what users are looking for and determine the most frequent phrases.
- Determine the importance of phrases and terms. At this stage, you need to analyze which search phrases are most important for a particular project. All phrases that do not fully relate to the promoted site should be deleted, significantly narrowing the list. The final list of search phrases should be divided into broad thematic groups.
- Filter the received keywords by topic. By filtering the resulting list of search phrases by various topics, we get readymade groups that can be used for various purposes. For example, to analyze the interests and needs of users, plan new content, create new landing pages, and improve the structure of our site.
Search keyword clustering is also helpful when choosing anchor text for link promotion. Lately, Google’s algorithms are paying more attention to anchor text. This is a good signal for SEO specialists that are using the same text on many inbound links can have a negative impact on the promotion. Search bots may consider that such links were obtained in an unnatural way and impose appropriate sanctions on the domain.
Based on this, you should adhere to some recommendations for compiling anchor text for links. Text phrases should be as natural as possible and not over-spammed by keywords. This is where clustering can be great. It is worth choosing a number of natural key phrases from a specific group for their use in link promotion of the page. This way, it will be possible to avoid the use of the same anchor text in many external links and sanctions from Google. All used search phrases for external links will additionally be relevant already, which will positively affect the ranking of the promoted page.
This entire process can be done independently and manually. For example, you can do this by using Google Sheets. There are additional online services that can make your work easier and more efficient. For example, consider a handy tool from the SemRush online service – Keyword Magic Tool. To work with it, you need to register and select the appropriate menu item. This tool allows you to research keywords, find synonyms, and look for similar phrases. But its main advantage is the automatic grouping of search phrases. The user has access not only to large groups of keywords but also to subgroups that allow for an even more thorough analysis. Let’s look at an example of researching the search “mens winter jackets”.
The user has access to various options and metrics, groups, and subgroups. There is an opportunity to conduct research in different regions. The finished results can be exported to popular formats for further offline use. The free and functional Keyword Magic Tool from SemRush is a great helper for advanced keyword research, clustering, and SEO planning. For more useful services, see Top SEO Tools for Businesses in 2020.
Perfect SEO Page Optimization
There is a constant debate about the ideal web page optimization. On the Internet, you can find various opinions on optimization that are all supported by real facts and evidence. Everyone can read various guidelines for content writing, keyword placement, and other procedures. Let’s look at this problem from the perspective of the development of the Internet and search.
Google representatives have repeatedly reported that the best website promotion is optimizing it for users. We are seeing the rapid development of artificial intelligence and neural networks where modern search algorithms are based. They learn in real time to correctly understand the searches of users to compose the most relevant answer for them.
In this regard, some concepts of SEO promotion are becoming more relevant. On the contrary, some are not. With the development of social networks, more and more attention is paid to the promotion of the social activity of users and their interest in the content presented on the site.
However, there are some general recommendations of on-page promotion specialists that have been proven over and over again by experience.
- The unique value of the content on the page: Please note that unique value does not mean customary uniqueness. A specific word order is used only in a specific text. A unique value should be understood as a certain feature that favorably distinguishes the page from its competitors. It is advisable to think over this at the stage of creating the page. However, nothing prevents from changing the existing content or modernizing it for the needs of customers. You need to carefully analyze the market, evaluate the selected keywords, and define what can attract a user. It helps to provoke discussions on social networks and encourage people to share links.
- Providing high speed of page loading, convenient design, and attractiveness of the page: All these seemingly secondary indicators can significantly improve behavioral factors, and rating. Pay attention to the correct structure of the site, its correct display in different browsers. Content should be useful and unobtrusive.
- Technical details. This should include the use of status code. For example if the page temporarily does not work, it is recommended to use the 503 code instead of the 404 code. You also need to pay attention to the URL. It must be correctly composed and unique. It is recommended that you create and properly configure a Robots.txt file to instruct search engines.
- Keyword targeting: Correct distribution of keywords on a page plays an important role in search rankings. Sometimes, following all of the keyword targeting guidelines can negatively impact the usability of a page. In such cases, a compromise must be found. However, remember that the convenience of the user is always the highest priority.
- Social signals: Make sure your promoted page is featured on social media. It should include social media icons for quick exchange of user information. Social signals can directly or indirectly increase rankings and drive traffic. Read more – Social Signals in SEO.
Follow the recommendations described in this article for effective SEO promotion. Listen to the advice of leading SEO specialists and marketers, but do not forget to experiment on your own. Search algorithms are constantly being modernized and improved. So far, all of the recommendations in the article have shown good results. Perhaps,you will find the most effective way to promote your business by experimenting and finding additional ways to improve your site’s Google rankings.