Better websites are made up of great individual pages of good content. It really is just that simple. The best websites are built like a great cookbook. Cookbooks are made up of a bunch of individual and specific recipes. Those recipes pages are usually laid out in sections to make it easy for everyone to understand, no matter what recipe they are on. If you can build the pages of your website to work like recipes in a cookbook, you will create web pages that search engines love. Here is our recipe for building better web pages for SEO.
Create Your Content with the End in Mind
When you are getting ready to make dinner, if you are like me, you check the fridge for main ingredients you will use to cook a recipe. Knowing the main ingredients you have available before you start cooking, is key to creating a tasty dish. Are you creating a light salad, with just a few components or does your dish require depth and lots of prep work? All things you should know before you start cooking. A web page or post is no different. You need to know the main concept you are planning to write about and how much depth and research you plan on putting into your content before you start writing.
There is a star in every dish you create, be it steak, chicken, potatoes or lettuce. Knowing your star ingredient from the beginning helps you to shape your dish. For your web page, the star ingredient is your keyword phrase. You will use this keyword phrase to shape your content, just like the recipe for a meal.
In preparation for writing your web page, you need to know what the keyword phrase is for this individual page, and only this page, before you start writing. Determining the optimal keyword phrase is known as Keyword Research. Don’t skip this step. If you are not focused on the star ingredient of your page, you may end up making content that no one wants, competes with other content on your site, or targets a very saturated subject. How many tuna sandwich recipes does the world really need?
When coming up with your keyword phrase, think about what someone would type into a search engine to find your page. Most people type between three and six words in a search phrase, so use that as a guide. Yes, keywords can be phrases, like “red onion” or “five-year aged cheddar cheese”, as long as you use them consistently in your content. (There is a whole deep dark hole on keyword research that we go into here, but for now, let’s keep it simple and assume you know the keyword phrase you have picked is the perfect one!)
Like with any good recipe, you also need to know how much of your star ingredient you are going to use. Too much and you ruin a dish, too little and you can’t taste it. Know what you are writing about and how you plan to highlight your keyword phrase before you start. Make sure you don’t go overboard when using your keyword phrase. Don’t overuse your keyword phrase and make it hard to read your content; use just enough that everyone knows what you are talking about and the content reads in a natural way.
Simpler recipes are easier to understand, both for chefs and readers. No need to make a 7-course meal here. One dish at a time; one topic at a time. By this, I mean to target a single keyword phrase per page you create.
Bonus: Feel free to add your keyword phrase to your Meta Keywords. Search engines outside of China don’t really use meta keywords anymore, but it can be helpful to organize pages for yourself if you wish.
Every recipe needs a great title and it should be how you lead into your page. It is the most visible and important part of your page. Make sure it is visible as a Heading 1 tags. Stylize it with CSS, but make sure it is in a level 1 header tag because it is the most important Heading on your page. The Title Tag is what will come up in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) when your page is found.
A title is usually not enough to sell you on a recipe, it usually takes more. In web pages, this extra explanation is called the Meta Description. The Meta Description describes the content of the page in less than 2 sentences and shows up in the SERP. This description can be part of your page, but should to be included in the Meta Description tag in the Heading 1 tag of your page. The meta description in the header is never seen by the visitor on the actual page, so you don’t have to try to make it fit. Just describe the page in a way that is enticing to a searcher to click on it from the SERP.
It might be a good idea to come back to the Meta Description after you have completed writing your page to ensure it describes your page best.
Bonus: Putting your keyword phrase in the meta description won’t affect your SERP results. They will show as bold text. The meta description is basically the bait to get people to your page from the SERP.
Have you ever looked in a cookbook without photos and been enticed to make a dish? For most people, a picture of what they are cooking will sell them on the dish. The same goes for your web page. One feature image and other images, where appropriate, should be added to every page and should complement and enhance your content. Featured images are picked up by social media and help to share your content across the world.
Don’t forget to use a descriptive name for your image file name before loading it. You can’t really tell what an IMG_1092.jpg is, but you sure do know what a Salmon_Filet_with_Asparagus.jpg is, right? Also, be sure to include a description of your image in the Alt Tag.
The Alt Tag is there so that search engines know what the image they are looking at is. It is also helpful for people who can’t see or aren’t able to load images for whatever reason. “Filet of Wild Salmon with Asparagus on a White plate with a Lemon” sounds pretty good here, right? Can you almost see it? Good, then we did our job right describing the picture. Don’t keyword load these alt tags, just explain what is in the photo. If you picked the right photo, it should have your keyword phrase in the description of the image. Ideally, every image should relate back to your keyword phrase.
Photos add load time to your pages, which search engines and users hate if it takes too long. Be sure, just like measuring ingredients in your recipe, to only use photos that are the right size for the site. No need to load that 5MB photo that is 5200 pixels wide if you are only displaying it at 600px wide. Don’t go overboard on photos either. 10 photos can add up in size and increase load times quickly. Just like in a recipe, too much of any ingredient ruins a dish, either in size or count.
Having multiple right-sized images on a page is great if it adds to the readability and content of the page. Don’t add images just to add images. Try to always have one featured image per page.
Content is your Recipe
Content in a cookbook is the recipe used to make your ingredients into a dish. Content on a web page is the text that explains your keywords/phrase. Also, content is the actual visible words on the page that a person reads. When writing, your content should be pointed at the keywords/phrase you chose to use when planning out your page.
Remember you are trying to do a recipe for one keyword or phrase. Don’t stray from this, and your page content will be more valuable to those who find it. Content should be as long as it needs to be, but just like a recipe, the more descriptive you are with your instructions the more accurate the dish will be. Some of your pages can be explained in just a few paragraphs, but some pages will and should have more content. Pages with 1500-2000 words are really well-liked by search engines, but this much content is not appropriate on a contact page. Use the right amount of words, utilizing those keywords you had before so that you tell your story correctly each time to a first-time visitor to your site.
Bonus: Always try to think about your content first through the eyes of a new visitor. New visitors may need definitions of terms or acronyms; your return visitors will just gloss over this if they know what it is.
Add Reference and Referral Links
Time to add your new recipe to the index of your cookbook and to tell your readers about other similar recipes. Just like in a cookbook, you may need to make a sauce for your recipe, and the recipe for that sauce lives on another page of the cookbook. Review your written content and look for phrases and concepts you have in other places on your own website. Where appropriate add these internal links to your content. If you know of another web page that explains your content in another way, link to it using an external link. Think of this as a referral to a similar recipe.
Presentation – Putting it all together
Just like you, the visitors to your website are smart. They know what they want and they want it from you. When they search for a keyword and your content, your page link comes up on the SERP. They see your title and meta description and click on the title to get to your site. They expect that content to be about the phrase they were looking for.
With this in mind, create content that is easy to read, easy to understand, and laid out in a way that is required by the search engines about your visitor’s keyword phrase for best results. Make it easy to see and find the content they really are looking for.
Better Web Pages
Remember, you should be optimizing every page of your site separately.
A web page about “salmon” is all about “salmon”. The title of the web page should be “salmon”, the content talks about “salmon” (not any other food); the meta descriptions are about “Salmon” only.
You will now have a much better chance of being found by a search engine for the search term “salmon”.
It’s a little extra work but it makes sense. Don’t get tempted about slipping in something about tuna. Remember, the visitor is thinking “I was looking for salmon – talk to me about salmon”.
Step it up even more
What are the chances of someone typing just “salmon” into a search engine? Think about the last time you used a search engine. How specific were you when you typed in the search term?
Imagine if you had an even better web page that was all about “Alaskan wild salmon”. Remember, most people type between three and six words in a search phrase.
Even better web pages
There is a lot more to making better web pages including professional copywriting, sitemaps, optimizing load times, and server propagation. However, if you just concentrated on the points above you should see a big difference in how your content is indexed. The only want to know if the work you are doing is working is to measure the results.
What Not To Do
There are a few things we want to make sure we don’t do, if at all possible.
- Don’t start writing until you have identified your keyword phrase
- Don’t duplicate content on any two pages (this doesn’t include headers and footers)
- Don’t target a keyword that you have already targeted on another page on your site
- Don’t load photos without naming them what they are
- Don’t use Full-Size photos – Right size them before loading them
- Don’t keyword load your alt tags
- Don’t keyword load your content – be natural
What To Do
Here are the highlights for your recipe for creating great web page content.
- Pick one keyword phrase to highlight per page
- Stick to one topic per page
- Use the keyword phrase to create Title, Meta Descriptions and Content
- Use a picture and alt tags that go with your keyword phrase and describe the picture
- Use the right amount of content for your topic. Write as much as you can, naturally, and appropriately for the page of your site.