Optimizing Content for Search Engines

11.01.2016 |

Episode #4 of the course “SEO Fundamentals” by HubSpot Academy


Now that you’ve learned the important role of keywords in search engine optimization, let’s put ourselves in the searcher’s shoes.

Search engines are getting smarter and smarter. In addition to understanding keywords, they also try to understand a searcher’s intent. If you search for “boston soccer team,” your intention is probably to find information about Boston’s soccer team, the New England Revolution. Google tries to understand what you’re actually looking for, looks at all related pages, and then shows you the results that it deems the most helpful. It’s not just going to show you exact matches to the keyword that you searched for.

As a marketer, this means that you can create content using natural language and variations of your keyword, like “dog treats,” “doggy treats,” and “treats for dogs.” You don’t have to use the same exact phrase over and over. And don’t shy away from mentioning related keywords in your content, like “dog food nutrition.”

Anyway, once you’ve written this great content, it’s time to optimize the page where it will be featured.

First, optimize the page around a primary keyword. Be sure that the keyword fits as a description of what the page is all about. You’re optimizing for the visitor first, but it’s also how a search engine can understand the purpose of the page to know how to best index it.

Add the keyword to the page title. The page title shows both on the browser tab for the page, and also as the link to the page in search results. If optimizing a website page, include your company name as well. Use a vertical bar, otherwise known as a pipe, to separate the two.

Next, add your primary keyword to the URL. This can also be seen on the page and within search results. If using a long-tail keyword, use dashes to separate words (companyname.com/long-tail-keyword-phrase). If editing a live page, any change that you make to the URL will create a new page, so make sure to set up a 301 Redirect that will direct the old URL to the new one, sending people seamlessly to the right page. This will save all of your SEO credit and ensures that you don’t break any links to the old page.

Next, add the keyword to the page headers and content. Use the keyword naturally throughout the page.

If there are any images on the page, add the keyword to the image alt-text. Search engines can’t read images, so alt-text allows a search engine to understand what that image is about.

This also allows that image to be found in image searches.

Next, add the keyword to the meta description. This is the short summary below the link (or title) to your page in a search engine results. Each page should have a unique meta description no longer than 140 characters. Though it doesn’t directly affect SEO, optimization here can improve the rate of people clicking through to your page.


Recommended book

“SEO Fitness Workbook, 2016 Edition: The Seven Steps to Search Engine Optimization Success on Google” by Jason McDonald


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