- Title optimization of articles, blogs, or webpages is critical to get traffic and earn money from Adsense and affiliates
- The standard advice is to stick to one keyword phrase per page to maintain strict relevance and avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing
- Adding extra related keywords, however, apart from the modifiers and words to create a sensible title has the potential to get more traffic to websites
- Here are some good insights and tips on how you can optimize your keywords titles
Optimizing titles of articles, blogs or webpages is critical for getting traffic and earning money from Adsense and affiliates. The standard advice is to stick to one keyword phrase per page to maintain strict relevance and avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing. But adding extra, related keywords, apart from the modifiers and words to create a sensible title, has the potential to get more traffic to your site.
In this article, I’ll review, my own experience in crafting carefully multiple keyword titles.
Keep the title short – one keyword phrase to a page
As a golden tip, start targeting individual keywords on separate pages and use multiple pages for related words. General landing pages for mixed or general topics generally will not work because you will not be able to compete for popular single keywords without adding phrases for longtail titles. The general advice is that you should keep the title short (less than 70 characters) and only target perhaps two or three primary keywords that are highly relevant to the content of the page and its objective. You can of course develop long-tail keywords that include your primary keywords plus a series of modifiers to make a ‘sensible’ title that makes sense to humans and the test the bots use to evaluate your sites.
Avoid keyword stuffing
There is a lot of information on the dangers of keyword stuffing, which means over-use of your keyword or keywords in the title, description, and the body copy. Google invokes a penalty for keyword stuffing, though the threshold keyword density is not exactly known. There are various tools for counting keyword use frequencies. Keyword Density is simply measured as the relative number of times your search term (Keyword or Keyword phrase) occurs as a percentage of the total number of words on a given page. The ideal Keyword Density must not be greater than 5.5 percent. But various search engines have different thresholds before they apply penalties. Reasonably, high Keyword Densities can help boost page rankings but you don’t have to overdo it.
Keyword Density can be boosted by using your keywords repeatedly in the:
- Title tag
- Header tag
- Comment tag
- Body tag
- Anchor tag
- Image tag
- Alt tag
- Domain name, and
- Paragraph tag
Another general piece of advice for titles is not to exceed using the identical keyword in the title more than twice.
How Google and other search engines crawl and rank your keywords in the title
It is not widely understood, but Google and other search engines register and rank every individual keyword in your title and every combination – including various orders and positions for the keywords. Although there is a priority for phrases with the keywords in the order they are in the Title, and for words that appear first, Google will register all the keywords and phrases and derive a ranking for them.
Dilution of the weight of the keywords in the title
Google also appears to regard long titles as more likely to be Spammy (especially very long titles). Longer titles may also appear keyword-stuffed. Research has shown that the first keyword in the title has the highest weight; the second keyword has somewhat less weight and so on. By adding more words you may dilute the weight applied to each of them. For targeting two-word searches and phrases, it is important to keep keywords close to each other and in their ‘natural’ order. Try to match the likely order of the terms in the search phrase, to the order in the title.
Use multiple keyword phrases multiply your traffic
If Google derives a rank for all the words in the title, surely, by including two or three keywords rather than one will be more likely to get more traffic. The traffic for each word should add up and multiply. Understanding when this is appropriate and when it is not is the crux of optimizing titles. As explained previously the weight or value of the keyword appears to fall rapidly as you move from the first word to the last. More keywords appear to dilute the weight given for each word. Also, there is the important issue of relevance. Your page may be penalized if the words you use are not highly relevant to the content of the page.
The key aspect is competition – only use a single phrase if the competition is high
If there is a lot of competition for a keyword then it is best to only use a single keyword or phrase. Stick to the keyword phrase you have found using the Google Keyword Planner for use in the title. You know the statistic and competition for that exact phrase and it is unwise to fiddle with it. Various tools can be used to estimate competition for the phrase and the likely traffic. The Keyword Research tool shows how even minor changes in the phrase can dramatically affect traffic and competition.
If the competition is high you have to maintain the strength of your page and title to compete. Adding extra phrases will dilute the weight applied to the keyword. You will be competing against pages that are likely to be strongly targeted on that keyword phrase as well. You could lose the battle if you don’t have that singular, highly focused title for the keyword.
If there is moderate competition enrich your title with more keywords
For moderate competition, there are several ways you can go to use multiple keywords in the title.
1. Use two or more Modifiers
The solution to not duplicating the keyword is to add one or two extra modifiers or action words. If you look at the competitive keyword phrases shown by the Google Keyword Tool you will often find that two phrases look promising that both contain the primary keyword or phrase.
[action word 1 keyword] + [keyword action word 2] = [action word 1 keyword action word 2]
Let’s say, for instance, you are after a keyword title for your article about Green Tea health benefits and you want to use a longtail keyword narrowing the search to extracts. The obvious solution is:
- Health Benefits of Green Tea Extracts
This provides a title for four phrases
- Benefits of Green
- Health Benefits of Green Tea
- Green Tea Extracts
- Health Benefits of Green Tea Extracts
Another example is a title about Professional Make-up Artists
Reviews of Professional Make-up Artists + Make-up Artist Portfolios = Reviews of Professional Make-up Artist Portfolios
This makes the title target four phrases in one:
- Reviews of Professional Make-up Artists
- Make-up Artist Portfolios
- Professional make-up artist portfolios
- Reviews of Professional Make-up Artist Portfolios
In both cases, this very simple tactic makes it possible to create a short concise title that is enriched by optimizing it for more than one key term and narrowing down your target audience. Perhaps your article is about creating portfolios and how to find and review make-up artists and this title targets these keywords. Of course, it is often hard to find word combinations similar to these and it emphasizes that title design is a real art. These examples also show how the use of action keywords and modifier phrases to target buyers who are ready to buy, which will fulfill the aim of your website.
2. Long tail action based keyword choices
Long-tail titles using action words are generally more effective, as action-based queries usually attract users that have already got their credit card out and are hungry to find what they want and to buy it. Targeting your audience will lose part of the potential audience but the ones you have filtered for will be more likely to buy.
The role of SEO title optimization is to enrich the keywords in the title that potential buyers might use when conducting a search to target the group that is interested in your product or services.
The best strategy is to build the longtail keyword title, not by using poorly selected action words as modifiers, but by researching the action words and phrases as well for maximum benefit.
Combine competitive keyword phrases to enrich the title
The Google Keyword Planner Tool might show two promising keyword phrases essentially related to the same topic. Let say, for instance, that you are trying to market green tea extracts using their health benefits, particularly to help people having issues with losing weight. The Google Keyword Planner Tool shows three competitive phrases
- green tea health benefits
- green tea extract
- green tea health benefits for weight loss
These phrases can be combined in ways that retain the order of the words (with green tea as the first phrase) but allow all these phrases to work in your title.
- Green Tea Extract: Health Benefits for Weight Loss
This longtail keyword is optimized for all three competitive phrases.
The ideal separator for two phrases
What is the ideal separator when using multiple keyword phrases? It does not really matter. You can use a pipe (|), a colon (:) a dash (-), or a comma (,)
However, don’t use the underscore ( _ ) as search engines don’t recognize it as a separator. These characters have no ranking benefit, but they help make your title readable.
Dealing with plurals and synonyms
In some cases, you may want to expand the keywords in the title to include plurals, synonyms, and other expressions for your topic. For example “architect supply”, “architectural supplies” and “technical drawing equipment” essentially deal with the same topic. You will need to craft the title to include these variants if you can.
For example: “Architectural supplies: Technical Drawing Equipment for Architects”
One of the potential dangers with targeting a single term in your title is that it creates a tendency for over-optimization, even when it’s not intended. You may use that single keyword everywhere on your page. If you include variants this is less likely to happen.
Don’t overdo it!
You need to be careful because adding more keywords can mean that each of them will have less and less impact. The more you try to stuff extra keywords into the less natural it is going to sound. For example, if you use the following title it will appear in the search results as –
Cheap Coffee | Gourmet Coffee | Ground Gourmet Coffee
Google won’t like it as it will be interpreted as keyword stuffing. Your potential customers won’t like it because they will see it as unnatural and likely to provide useless promotional material
Much better would be:
Low Price Ground Gourmet Coffee and Fresh Roasted Bean Suppliers
Which version looks better in the search results? Which one is less likely to be seen as keyword stuffing and deception?
If you have a keyword ‘Recycling Information – How And Where To Recycle
What if you want to optimize an article for the keyword “Recycling Tips” as well?
You could build a title such as
Recycling Information – Recycling Tips – How and Why Recycling is Better
But this is clearly keyword stuffing and Google will probably penalize it.
A better option is
Recycling Information – Tips, Tricks and How to Recycle
You can see that your second keyword recycling tips is in the title, but with the keyword word information in between. This will be slightly less effective but Google will still list you page for the keyword Recycling Information – Tips. If you look at the search results where the matching keywords are shown in ‘bold’, you will notice that this often occurs even for pages that appear high up in the search results.
- Building traffic is important, but it is conversion rates that really matter
- The keyword “tail” should not “wag” your dog (marketing strategy). Keep the focus on the major keyword and keep it at the front of your title.
- Use association and keyword matching to group keywords. Rank your potential phrases for search popularity, but make sure you can compete for them and cascade down by adding modifiers to build a longtail title that will work.
- Never forget that a human user will determine your conversion rates, not the search engines
- Your titles must be readable and appealing
If you do all this along with writing high-quality content intended for people and optimized for Google, your articles, blog, or webpages will suddenly be ranking for multiple keywords with high conversion rates. You may even end up being in the first spot for a keyword that was never your main focus.
Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, inbound marketing consultant, and founder of Write Minds. He can be found on Twitter @jmcmillen89.
Source: Jacob M.
Searchmetrics’ CMO Talks Enterprise Volatility, SEO Careers & CWVs
And just how important are Core Web Vitals, anyway?
If you’re in the market for employment with a leading search data, software, and consulting solution, you’ll want to check out her tips as to what Searchmetrics looks for in new hires, as well.
1. Core Web Vitals (CWV) has been a hot topic this past year.
What do enterprise marketers need to know about CWVs now that the dust has settled?
Lillian Haase: “For marketers in any business, focusing on reducing friction for users when they arrive at your website is the name of the game — with or without CWVs.
Before the official announcement that CWV’s page speed signals would become ranking factors, fast-loading and easy-to-navigate websites saw better results in the search engines. The CWV rollout just made it official.
I will say, too, that the dust has only settled in terms of Google talking about CWV.
The work for many brands is still colossal.
Our team sees many large companies still experiencing major problems with site speed and shifting layouts. Until domains can fix those issues, they’ll struggle to excel in competitive SERPs.
Having a decent CWV will be the price for entry onto the playing field.
If your CWV is far worse than your competitors, you’ll struggle for rankings – but CWV goes beyond SEO. The gains are much more concrete when it comes to revenue and conversions.”
2. We’ve seen you write before on volatility as an opportunity in SEO.
Can you share a few ways these volatile times may translate to opportunities for enterprise SEO?
Lillian Haase: “At the start of the pandemic, we had major shifts going on in marketing. This necessitated a pivoting of methods to adapt to a new, uncertain environment.
When it came to SEO, we had clients with unprecedented traffic drops and increases. The world had changed and so had their web traffic.
My advice remains the same as then.
When you’ve experienced a sudden drop in traffic, analysis of where the drop occurred is the first step towards recovery – but it’s not the last.
It’s crucial to understand why it happened.
Was it a change made to your website?
A loss of keyword rankings for a specific page or group of pages — or something else?
Take steps to improve, or reverse an earlier change, depending on what you find.
The opposite happens, too, and you may experience a sudden influx of traffic and better rankings.
While celebrating is certainly not to be neglected (after all, teams work for years to see increases in traffic, so be sure to enjoy it when it happens!), it’s still important to ensure it’s the right kind of traffic, and that visitors are engaging with your web content.
Look at ways you can optimize your top-traffic pages to keep visitors engaged and moving through your website. Take advantage of that extra traffic with conversion rate optimization.
In addition, update your keyword research around topics that are ranking well to determine if you missed anything.
There might be something new uncovered through research that you haven’t optimized for.
Cover all your bases and see how much more extra traffic you can get on top of those already good results. Good can always get better.”
3. What do you think is the most underrated optimization or tactic in enterprise SEO today?
Lillian Haase: “The basics, such as optimized headers and user experience, are still the same.
But the bar for great content and high-performing websites is much higher.
Your content needs to be heads and shoulders above the rest.
For example, the Google Product Reviews Update impacted many affiliate sites.
With these and other Google Updates, the days where you could write basic copy about a product and hoping to rank are gone.
Now, you make your expertise on the topic very clear by providing a truly informed opinion about the product’s performance.”
4. What advice or recommendations do you have for junior SEO professionals who might aspire to a leadership role?
“My advice would be to learn to tell the story of SEO’s impact on the business in terms of revenue.
In other words, if you can communicate the value of organic traffic framed in business terms, you will be heard by leaders in other teams who do not understand the ins and outs of SEO.
They’re looking for the value (often, in financial terms) the channel is bringing the company.
One of the most difficult things I see SEOs struggle with is that they go into unnecessary detail about search engines.
As SEOs, we’re so interested in the many moving pieces of the work, and we get overly excited with the minutiae.
But if no one understands what we’re talking about or they think it’s boring, the message is lost.
Try to focus on business results in your presentations, reports, and in meetings with your superiors, instead.
In most organizations, organic search is undervalued when compared with other channels such as paid search.
If you can find a way to elevate the conversation to business metrics and stay out of the technical details, you’re well on your way towards future opportunities in SEO leadership.
If you can also consistently increase organic traffic, leads, and sales for your organization, you’re also setting yourself up for success.”
5. What does it take to succeed in a role at Searchmetrics?
And are you currently looking for any specific types of talent?
Lillian Haase: “We’re growing our services teams globally, so thanks for asking this and giving me a chance to share a little more.
While we have a variety of roles open, we’re actively recruiting SEO consultants and account executives.
One of the benefits of working for a company of our size is having the opportunity to have your voice heard.
We understand the next great idea can come from anyone at any level.
Successful team members adopt the mindset of builders and innovators and seek out opportunities for growth. Then they present those opportunities with a clear focus on the bottom line.
In general, we look for people that are not just looking to “do the job.”
Yes, we want people skilled in a particular area. However, we want people that are looking to push the envelope by asking, “How can we be better in our function?”
When it comes to culture, we’re looking for a culture add, not a fit.
We understand having a true diverse Searchmetrics family not only includes diversity in gender and ethnic background but also experience and thought.”
Featured Image: Courtesy of Searchmetrics
What To Focus On This Year
As the ball dropped in Times Square at midnight on January 1, 2022, many search engine marketers were tempted to check their analytics and rankings.
It appears that Google has replaced Santa as the purveyor of the “Naughty or Nice” list in the online world.
Some sites receive the gift of better rankings before the New Year.
Others are cleaning the coal dust out of their stockings, running frantic analyses on why they were put on the naughty list.
And I don’t know who needs to hear this, but next year the update will be there after Christmas.
Don’t feel guilty about taking a few days off.
Take some time to think about how you can be even better in the New Year.
That’s what I did.
Below is my list of SEO resolutions for the New Year.
1. Remember To Have Empathy
In my experience, most search engine marketers are very “left-brained.”
Sure, there’s a ton of creativity in the search engine marketing world – but most search engine marketers would rather figure out why a piece of code isn’t loading as fast as it should versus trying to understand the intricacies of a searcher’s mind.
Don’t get me wrong, the technical aspects of SEO and paid search are essential – and without technical savvy, what we do doesn’t work.
But technical fixes are not enough to show continued improvement in your search engine marketing results.
I believe that the best tool any marketer can have is empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others.
If we as marketers can understand the feelings, motivations, intent, and actions of search engine users, we can create webpages and content that not only provides value to visitors but also increases our site’s bottom line.
I have always prided myself on my ability to empathize with searchers.
But with every core algorithm update or IT person screwing up a site, I find it very easy to put my empathetic impulses on the back burner to chase technical fixes.
Those technical fixes are for Google, not the searchers.
I need to remember to spend as much – or more – time understanding those who make a query as I do looking at ways to improve a site’s performance.
The dividends that come from empathetic marketing practices are usually greater than those gleaned from technical fixes.
All of us in search would be wise to remember this.
2. Automate All The Things
Python, in the hands of a competent programmer, is a powerful tool that can cut the amount of time required for search engine optimization significantly.
Python can help you scrape data to come up with content ideas, analyze common on-page SEO issues, track and analyze issues in your backlink profile and much more.
Those interested in some of the possibilities with Python should read this article: How To Use Python To Analyze SEO Data: A Reference Guide.
As I’ve stated in the past, by definition I am not a coder.
However, I’ve been around code for so long I know what to look for when I’m analyzing how the code will react with the search engines.
For those like me, I encourage you to dig in and learn the basics of the Python language.
No one is going to care if you master the intricacies of the code.
In fact, I would argue that spending too much learning the language is a waste of time.
For me, the end goal of learning about any new technology is to learn its full capabilities and limitations.
If you understand what a piece of software can do, you can then plan what you need and either figure out how to program just what you need or hire someone to program it for you.
It’s almost impossible to hire someone to automate your SEO tactics if you don’t understand how Python (or any other software) can help you achieve your goal.
My goal in 2022 is to learn everything python can do.
If you are a freelance python developer, feel free to hit me up around May, as I suspect I’ll have some projects by then.
3. Get Your Tracking Right
The introduction of Google Analytics 4 has thrown a wrench in a lot of sites’ tracking codes.
Many went from somewhat high confidence that their analytics data was correct to uncertainty.
When you don’t trust your analytics numbers, you can’t make proper decisions.
You can’t plan properly.
We often have prospects that show up with poorly executed tracking.
This has become so much of an issue that we recently implemented a policy where we don’t move on to any other work until the tracking is set up.
And it needs to be set up so everyone in your organization trusts the data.
If you increase traffic by 140% but the boss doesn’t believe the numbers are accurate, no one will get credit. There is a good chance that the tactics used to achieve the increased traffic won’t be approved again in the future.
Why would anyone approve activity that, based upon their worldview, isn’t effective?
On the other hand, if traffic falls and no one trusts the data, it will be almost impossible to accurately diagnose what is causing the traffic decrease – at least in a way where the whole team is on board with the diagnosis and action items to fix the issues.
4. Embrace The Grind
Good SEO is a grind.
In many cases, we are implementing tactics and must wait several weeks before we know if our efforts worked or not.
We’re a lot like farmers – planting our seeds in the code of our sites, watering and caring for the code while knowing that storms from Google or drought from lack of consumer interest may mean a disastrous harvest.
Successful SEO pros embrace the daily grind.
We work on content to bolster our authority.
We check the code daily to make sure nothing is broken.
And when Google announces an upcoming update, the net looks like a town that just heard a storm is coming – SEO professionals work to batten down the hatches, even if we aren’t exactly sure what to do to prepare for the storm.
All-in-all, SEO becomes a list of daily chores.
Those SEO pros that embrace this daily grind are successful.
Those that look for magic bullets and quick fixes end up chasing their tail.
Embrace the grind.
It’s how you show long-term, sustainable SEO success.
If you’ve read this far, I’d love to hear your search engine marketing resolution.
Feel free to post your SEO New Year’s resolution on Twitter using the hashtag #seo2022.
I am looking forward to reading all the new year’s resolution inspiration I’m sure the readers of Search Engine Journal can provide.
Featured image: LanaSweet/Shutterstock
Should You Disavow Links From Spammy Yet High Authority Sites?
Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from David in Craughwell, Ireland, who asks:
“When checking my and my competitor backlink profiles, I come across many links from firebaseapp.com and web.app domains.
These domains have high DA but the pages are very often spammy and low quality. It is my instinct to disavow these links but due to the high DA I am unsure how to proceed.
Do you have any advice, please, for when an SEO encounters awful links from high DA domains?”
Great question! The first thing to think about is that Domain Authority (DA) does not come from Google and is not a credible metric.
How Does Domain Authority Factor Into Your Link Disavowal Strategy?
If you trust that tool, then you can use the metric as a way to begin looking at a domain or a specific webpage and whether a backlink may have some value.
But I personally wouldn’t let a high DA sway me in one direction or another. There are a ton of high authority domains you likely don’t want a backlink from.
Porn sites and gambling sites may have a ton of domain authority and content that gets a lot of engagement, but that doesn’t mean a backlink could be good for you (unless you’re in those niches).
I found links to a fashion site I work on from porn sites with high DA in their cosplay section and we disavowed because we don’t want the association, even though the link was natural and benefited the end user.
So What Should We Be Looking At?
The more important thing to look at is how Google will see that link.
Ask yourself why that site is linking to you – does your company sells something relevant to the topic of the website, the topic of the category, or the content within the page?
If you sell something unrelated like plumbing supplies or service alarm systems, Google will probably question why you have links from this site.
They will either ignore the link or potentially devalue your site as it may appear you’re building spammy links.
If this high DA site or series of sites has a ton of outbound links, there is a reasonable chance Google knows it is part of a farm and will likely ignore the link on its own.
If you’re worried about these links, you can always add them to your disavow sheet if it makes you feel more comfortable. Disavowing only takes a second and having peace of mind can last a long time.
That’s why I still do it for my clients.
For your app-specific questions: If you’re seeing this as an attack on your website, or it is a developer who is a fan of your brand and decided to link to you from all their apps or sites, you can leave it alone.
It’s likely they’re linking to all of your competitors, too, or your website is contextually relevant to the topic of the website.
If you do decide to trust a tool’s metric (all of them have their own) then I would pull a report of the specific URL linking to you (not the base domain) and look to see what the score is for that page.
If the score is good and the content makes sense, I would keep the link. If it is clearly spam and not topically relevant I would consider disavowing the page or the entire domain to save time.
You can go a step further and pull similar reports for your top three competitors in Google search to see if they have similar backlinks. If they do then you may be in the clear as everyone in your space has the same issues.
In this situation focus on things in your control like on-page SEO with your content, page structure, schema, internal links, speed, and UX.
Do You Really Need To Worry About Disavowing Links?
Google has gotten a lot better about detecting good and quality backlinks while ignoring spammy backlinks, including high DA sites.
If the links are clearly not natural and only pointing at your site, go for the disavow and do domain-wide.
Again, peace of mind is something that can have a positive impact on your business and your personal life, so taking a couple of seconds to add the URL to your disavow file and upload is absolutely worth it – but only if you are sure it is a spammy link and from an irrelevant site/page/source.
I hope this answers your question and thank you for asking it.
These subjective questions are always more fun to tackle – you made my day! =0)
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Featured image: fatmawati achmad zaenuri/Shutterstock
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