Not too many SEOs still think about tags or meta data because the focus has been on link building. But now that Google has brought down the hammer on non-organic link building, it’s worth to take a second look back on these long ignored on-page elements. There is and has always been an art in the way we make use of these elements, but we also need an update on what we can do with them and what they are good for (whether they have a direct SEO impact or not).
As in the old days, title tags still send a strong signal to Google of what keywords a page should rank for. But Google will kill your page if you do not optimize this part the right way. Remember that Google no longer displays 70 characters of your title tag, it now depends on pixel length.
– Your no.1 keyword should be included here.
– Include variations of that keyword.
– Make sure your use of keywords is organic and flows naturally with the page and content.
– Above all else, think about what will make your audience stay, click through, and actually use your site. This is far more important than SEO and it is also the structure that Google is looking for anyway.
– Do not go crazy on a single keyword by optimizing many pages for a single one.
– It’s not worth it to sacrifice natural use and audience-effective titles for optimization. Remember that Google changes its algorithm to spot good content and user engagement.
– Don’t over-stuff the title with keywords. That’s just ugly. It’s also bad SEO.
H tags (Headings)
Pretty much the same good writing tips in your title tag should also apply here in your heading tags. And if you are not making use of these, you had better reconsider. They are still powerful keyword signals to Google and you will ignore them at your own peril.
– Include priority keywords on H1 and move your way down by order of priority.
– Only have a single H1. Others can have repeats.
– Do not optimize with keywords through their hierarchy in exchange for organic use.
– Do not repeat the exact same keywords on various heading tags. Use variants.
Meta keywords are useless. Meta descriptions, though they do not have a direct SEO effect, are not. So do not abandon them.
– Write them as succinct sales hooks: advertise what you are all about and be interesting at the same time. Think of what would appeal to your target audience.
– Should be around 150 characters. This is important because Google still displays around that number of characters.
– Don’t even try to over optimize or overstuff meta descriptions with keywords because they wont even affect your SEO. It will just make you look bad if you did.
Old school or seemingly elementary SEO elements should never be forgotten or ignored. More often than not, they will be the backbone of your website marketing. That’s what’s important anyway. Also, Google will keep spotting whatever spammy marketing tactics people come up with in the future, but solid, organic, and ethical on-page optimization will never lead you astray.