Let’s face it – search engine optimization (also known as SEO) doesn’t always work the way we’d like it to.
It’s common for Google to rank pages for keywords other than the ones we actually want.
What can you do to fix this? How can you optimize a page so that Google improves the ranking for the keywords you want? The best plausible answer is understanding the difference between optimization and over-optimization.
Many times marketers understand how to optimize a page and there are benefits in doing so for page ranking. There is such a thing as over-optimization and it will negatively affect your website. Let’s explore how you can bypass those common over-optimization mistakes and improve your rankings in an efficient way.
Where do you rank now?
It’s important to notate where your page ranks today for the keywords you’re trying to improve. In order to measure progress, this will be a key first step. This can be done manually by searching for your keyword phrase in Google and taking note of the position for which you’re currently ranking.
Researching keyword variations
Take your keyword research a step further by exploring variations, specifically, long-tail keywords and keywords your competitors are targeting. If you aren’t familiar with long-tail keywords, those are the three and four keyword phrases, which are very specific to whatever you’re selling. Visitors are more likely to type longer and more specific keyword phrases into Google when they’re closer to a point of purchase.
Doing quick research gives you a better idea of how difficult your keyword is to rank on and what other options you may have. When you begin to type your keyword into Google, you will see keywords that immediately show up. These are called “keywords suggested by Google” and these phrases will give you a clear indication for what users are searching. You can also see who is appearing on the first search engine results page to gauge your standing compared to competitors, as well as viewing suggestions for “related searches” at the bottom of the page.
Once you have completed some initial research, you will have a better understanding as to how trafficked your keywords are and the competition associated with specific keywords. Can you compete? This is where some may find themselves frustrated, thinking “How will we ever be able to compete with X company?” We advise you to stop right there. It can be done. You need to place more emphasis on long-tail keywords. Sure, main keywords are where a considerable amount of your traffic comes from, but a more realistic approach for keyword success in the short-term is by focusing on longer key phrases. Here is an example, “digital marketing tips for 2016.” This is a good long-tail candidate but a better one with more specificity would be “digital marketing tips for mid-size businesses.” With consistency, you can see results that will gradually rank your keywords among your competitors. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Meta titles, descriptions and H1 tags
When it comes to your SEO ranking, the titles on your site can truly make or break your business in regard to being found online. Meta titles and descriptions are used to describe your site on search engines but more often than not, the descriptions won’t appear on your web page at all. These short descriptions are essentially meant to be a teaser and to provide a glimpse to the user of what your site is about.
Many times, users who have found you on search engines like Google will not be familiar with your company, which means that your meta title and description will need to provide detail about your company, product or service. Keep in mind Google only gives you a limited amount of characters (50-55) to display your title so keep your title short, quick and appealing.
Final factors to consider
There are many factors to consider when it pertains to SEO and the efforts that need to take place to make you competitive. Improving the rank of specific keywords is an effort that takes time, no matter how big or small your company. It even takes Google time to notice changes on a published page, so don’t jump to conclusions too quickly when you’re in the midst of improving your ranking.
Focus your efforts on:
- Optimizing your content (page titles, descriptions and more for your desired keywords)
- Working on off-page SEO to build a small database of external links (this effort involves identifying links to highly trusted and relevant websites)
- Monitor your ranking positions consistently (every month!)
Progress and gradual improvements with your rankings is more important than over-optimization and gaining temporary high rankings. That will only lead to wondering how to get out of Google penalties. Patience equals reward.