How search engines think
Using algorithms, search engines push websites to the top of the search page, based on what they think is relevant. Over time, these algorithms have been updated and improved to show the best search results possible. For instance, algorithms designed by market leader Google are made to anticipates a users intentions. It does this by combining other factors besides what is entered into the search box, such as IP address. For example, when someone searches for a Chinese restaurant, Google displays the Chinese restaurants that are close to him, based on IP address. Looking at the intention behind search terms entered in the search box is what is called “semantic search”. These search terms entered in the search box are called keywords. It is useful to pay attention to those, so you get found on the right keywords.
How these algorithms work are usually kept very secret by these search engines. Fortunately, there is a lot of general information available, that can significantly help to boost your page in search results.
Metadata & Metatags
One way of describing to search engines what your page is about, is by using metadata. Just to briefly explain, metadata summarizes basic information about data. This metadata is included in the page in the form of metatags. Search engines evaluate the metadata to determine if the page is relevant. If it is, it will display the page in its search results.
Metatags consist of keywords. These are words people use in search engines to find what they are looking for. There are keywords that are very popular and get thousands of unique searches every day, whilst others get only a couple. As you can imagine, these popular keywords are highly competitive between websites because getting a high ranking on one of those, will generate a lot of traffic to your website. To clarify, these are examples of keywords:
The repetitive keyword trap
After reading this, you may be very tempted to use a lot of keywords to get more traffic. With the goal to make your website seem more relevant than others, you may be tempted to use too many keywords. This will result in “keyword stuffing”. Nowadays, search engines have reduced the reliance on keywords in metatags. Its algorithm is built in such a way to recognize these tricks and ignore them. To improve your SEO performance and to convince search engines your page is more relevant, you will need to consider other strategies also. I will write about these soon!
Where do they show up?
Meta tags are included in the form of HTML elements. There are two elements that are most important to a webpage:
- Title tags
- Meta description
A title tag is part of an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. It shows up as a blue header in search results. If it’s done right, this should include at least the name of your business and a main keyword that you are aiming for. In some cases, it may be wise to include a location in this title tag. A title tag looks like this when it shows up in search engines:
The meta description is the short description that appears in search results below the title tag, after you hit the search button. This description gives you an idea what the page is about. Like the title tag, it should contain the target keyword and a short summary of the page. The meta description looks like this in search results:
Tips to get found on the right keywords
Of course, this article wouldn’t be complete without giving you some useful tips on how to improve your keywords implementation. I have summed up three that can be very easily implemented!
- Get suggestions from the search engine. You have probably seen the words that show up in the form of a drop-down list, when you are typing in the search field. Besides suggestions, these are keywords that are popular! See if there are keywords in this list matching your page content and use them in your page!
- Once you hit the search button, scroll down the page. There is a list there with all the related keywords that are often used. They basically act as suggestions of keywords you would want to consider.
- Use the free Google Keyword Planner. This is one of the amazing free tools Google provides to help you improve your website. I will write about it soon!
What about images?
It is common and advised to use images on the webpage. For images, alt tags are included. Alt tags consists of alt text and a title attribute. The alt text is information, which tells search engines what the image is about. The title attribute is the name that is given to the image in the HTML code. It shows up when you hover over it with the mouse. Google highly values these attributes. But apart for SEO purposes, they also serve for visually impaired people. In this case the text that is included in the alt text is read to the person by a reading tool.
This is a complete HTML image tag:
<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image tooltip”>
As you can see, using the right keywords can boost the SEO performance quite a bit. This topic can be a whole study on its own! So getting your keywords setup correctly is a must, which will immediately improve your website performance and give the desired ranking. However, because some websites tend to over use keywords or don’t use them correctly, search engines have now reduced the reliance on keywords in metatags. Therefore, other elements which are of significant importance should be considered and not be compromised on. But setting your keywords up correctly is a great start!