Keywords In Search Engine Optimization
In this post, I will go into the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) subject of Keywords. I want to make sure you understand what they are and their very important role in the ranking of your website in search engine results.
Search Engines (Google, Bing, Etc…) routinely crawl your website in the background and extract critical bits of information about every aspect of your site. This extracted data is put through a ridiculously complex and mysterious algorithm that decides the fate of your website for different search terms. They really do a lot more than that but for this post, we are dealing with one factor in your SEO and that is…Keywords.
When someone searches for a term, let’s say “Healthy Recipes”, Google looks at that term and dissects it. It starts combing through it’s vast resources and looking for matches that are relevant to the term. How does Google know if a site is relevant? It looks for Keyword combinations from the site’s content to give it clues as to the website’s relevancy for the searched word or term. It looks everywhere on your site and gives different rank to the keywords used in different sections. Think of it as a scoring system where each keyword used is given points based on it’s location in your page. Your blog is basically given a score for each keyword and keyword combination and that is one of the deciding factors in your sites rank for a search. So how your site ranks for the term “Healthy Recipes” would definitely be affected by how often the term “Healthy Recipes” and other related keywords show up in your site’s content. There are many many more factors that contribute to your rank but those are for another post someday.
How To Implement Keywords Into Your Food Blog
Now that you know the importance of keywords, let’s talk about how to use them in your blog to optimize your content for SEO.
Keyword density is the keyword’s percentage of use in your post’s content compared to the total number of words. Let’s say that your post had 300 words and the term “Food Blog” was used 6 times, this would give you a density of 2% for the keyword term”Food Blog”. Keyword density used to be a highly followed metric that had a major role in a site’s ranking. It is rumored that the weight of keyword density has lessened as of late and is not nearly as critical to your site’s overall SEO.
Sites used to load their content up with keywords to the point that it was painful to read. This keyword stuffing would get sites ranked higher for a certain keyword combination due to their heavy use. Google and other search engines of course caught on to this and started penalizing sites that were stuffing their sites with keywords and had high keyword density for the searched term.
With that being said, keywords are still critically important. Without them, the search engines would have very little idea what your posts were about. If you wrote a post on let’s say, “Potato Salad” and never once used the word “Potato” then the search engines would probably think your post was about “Salad”. If you never said “Recipe” in this same post, it would have no idea that this was a recipe (unless you have your metadata set up!) and wouldn’t know to rank it for a “Potato Salad Recipe”.
The purpose of keywords is to give the search engines a clear understanding of what your post is about so that they can provide accurate search results. Search engines want to give their users results that are useful to them, not some page that just wants to rank so they stuff their post with an unrelated keyword.
So I have told you how important keywords are and that you should put them in your site and at the same time, I have told you that you shouldn’t overdo keywords in your site. What’s the magic answer? Honestly, I don’t know and anybody that says they do are either lying or they wrote the Google algorithm! The general rule of thumb is not to exceed 2% keyword density for your term.
Write Readable Blog Posts
The answer is to write blog posts that are easily readable and convey the information clearly that you are trying to get across. Be descriptive in your writing. This means instead of putting “Post” in the previous sentence, I put “Blog Post”. This clarifies to the reader and also the search engines exactly what your post is talking about. Don’t be so repetitive with your keywords that it gets annoying to read.
Put Keywords In The Right Places
So now that you have a good idea about the importance of keywords, where do they go? The short answer is…everywhere!
The page/post title in a WordPress blog is typically derived from the post title plus another element or two. The most common is “POST TITLE | BRANDING”, where branding is your blog name.
Make sure you have your primary keywords in your title! This is critically important for identifying what your site is about to the search engines and the end user. Here is the title for one of our posts: “Vinegret (Russian Beet Potato Salad) | Whole Made Living”. This title tells what the blog post is about and also gives us a little bit of branding.
The URL of the page is another place that you really should use your keywords. How your blog displays URL’s can be customized in WordPress by modifying the permalink. Instead of showing something generic like “/post321”, use the keywords to do something like this “http://wholemadeliving.com/caramelized-onion-bacon-pear-pizza/”
Think of headings as a page outline. These are your H1, H2, H3… tags. The H1 tag in your post will typically be your post title by default, so this one is usually taken care of automatically. The H2, H3… tags must be created by you.
It’s easy to write a post without adding headings but don’t overlook them. They give Google valuable insight into what your site is about. Make your headings relevant to the content and put your keywords in them.
This one is the obvious one, it is the main text of your post. Make this content readable and use your keywords but don’t just stuff them in there to get your keyword density up.
Don’t overlook your images when optimizing for SEO. I will cover them in greater detail in another post later but here are the basics.
- File Name – Put your keywords in it! Instead of using the default file name like p232113.jpg, change the name to something like “Caramelized-Onion-Bacon-Pear-Pizza-Wholemadeliving-1160.jpg”.
- Alt Text – This should be something descriptive about your photo and try to put in your keywords. For the above pic, something like “Delicious Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Pear Pizza”. Remember, Google doesn’t know what your picture is about so you are telling it.
- Caption – This is a caption that displays under the photo. You can leave this blank or put a descriptive caption. Remember, the viewer sees this so make it relevant and readable.
Keywords Are A Deep Subject
Hopefully this has given you a good understanding of what to do and what not to do when it comes to your food blog’s keywords. Since keywords are such a deep subject, this is just a very basic introduction to Keywords to get you started and on the right track with your food blog. I plan on writing more about them in the future to give a bit of a deeper understanding of their position in the grand scheme of things.