Overview of SEO Training – Unit 3
Now that we’ve done a nice inventory of all the pages and keywords on the website, it’s time to start looking at the content to see how we can optimize it. Some of the main themes that we want to breakdown throughout this unit are: having highly targeted content, focusing on content quality, and evaluating your content’s relevance. Let’s dive in!
Lesson 3.1 Website Hierarchy
To set the stage for our discussion on content optimization, we’re going to begin by looking at the concept of website hierarchy. For any website you encounter, there’s an inherent hierarchy organization to how that website is laid out. (At least there should be for a good website.) There are different levels to the site and we’re going to just try to understand what each of these are.
It starts with the homepage, and next up come the category pages. Then, you have subcategory pages and detail pages. Lastly, it’s also important to note some non-SEO pages as well. There are pages on a website that aren’t directly SEO-centric. These may be landing pages, or pages that don’t fall into the normal “hierarchy” of a site, but they have a function for users.
Lastly, we want to address how the website hierarchy follows a few core SEO tenants. Generally speaking, as we move from a homepage down into the more detailed pages, we can think about what the focus is for each one of those. At the highest level (the home page), we are going to be generally using short-tailed keywords. As we move down to the detailed pages, the keywords we’ll be optimizing for will become long-tailed and much more specific. This is how you can plan your keyword strategy, and also see potential opportunities for keywords and site structure.
Lesson 3.2 Page Titles
In this lesson, we’re going to be covering one of the best places to start onsite content optimization: page titles. If you don’t know, a page title is basically the headline of a page and it shows up two prominent places: in organic search and on your browser’s “tab.”
Why do page titles matter? Page titles are the headline of the page, so we want that to be accurate for users and search engines. More importantly, though, page titles are also one of the top on-page ranking factors. It’s one of the first places Google looks to get a good sense of what the page is about, what the content is about, and how its targeted. They’re generally thought of as the lowest hanging fruit to be optimized on any given page of content.
What are the goals for page titles or the goal for page title optimization? We want our page titles to quickly, accurately, and uniquely describe the content of the page. We want to be optimized for the user, as well as for search. Use keywords that connect with how people search and that are on-brand. From there, it’s about fitting the keywords and search intent into the character limit (more on that later).
Lesson 3.3 Metadata
In this lesson, we’ll be covering how to optimize metadata, or some of the backend information on any given webpage. We’re going to look at four basics: meta description, the H1 and H2 tags, image alt tags, and open graph tags. We’ll start with the meta description. The meta description is basically a little description on the backend that typically shows up in search engine results. With the meta description, we’re trying to describe the page, convey a marketing message, speak to the user, and stay below 155 characters.
Next up are H1 and H2 tags. These can basically be thought of as a designation of search engines of some of the best ways to organize the page. H1 and H2 tags should be laid out in a way that helps readers flow through and scan the different content sections. Wherever we can, we also want to make them keyword-focused.
Our third piece of metadata are image alt tags. Basically, these are the backend descriptions, or written text descriptions, of any image on the site. Usually the biggest challenge is making sure that all images have an image alt tag at all. On top of that, we want them to be descriptive of the image. In two to four words, describe exactly what’s in the image so search engines can understand what is going on there.
Lastly, we’ll talk about open graph tags. These are basically backend tags that dictate what sort of things show up when a given piece of content is shared on social networks. For optimization purposes, we want all of your share-able pages to have accurate open graph tags. Then, we can test these to see how they share and what they look like when they’re shared or distributed on social networks.
Lesson 3.4 Category & Subcategory Page Optimization
Let’s look at the category and subcategory pages of a website as a place to begin optimization. Let’s start by just understanding what category pages are. They’re basically an overview page, under which a silo of other related content lives. Subcategory pages, on the other hand, are subgroups of the main categories on your site; they should be intuitive and obvious. We want them to be an overview page for the detail pages that are going to live underneath them.
It’s also important to think about the function of these pages. With category and subcategory pages, we’re trying to attract interest versus trying to attract conversions. They need to be well-organized, as they function to move people further through the site. We also want to be as keyword-targeted as we can, so we can make that page specific to its content and how people search. And because these pages tend to be more at the top of the funnel, we really need to make sure that our quality is on point, especially compared to our competitors.
At the highest level, we need titles and H1s and H2s for these category and sub-category pages to be very clear, concise, and targeted. In addition, these pages might have a little bit less content than a detail page, but we want to make sure the keywords are inserted a couple of times. Also check for things like internal links, good CTAs, fast side speed, and rich media. It’s a long checklist we cover in this lesson, but it’s helpful in making the most of your category pages.
Lesson 3.5 Product (or Service) Detail Pages
Now that we’ve covered category and subcategory page optimization, we’re now going to be looking at product and service pages. The product (or service) pages are the actual page with details about the thing we’re trying to sell. When we’re talking about product or service detail pages, we’re being more specific about what we have to offer. We’re starting to have the mindset of attracting conversions, as well. It’s important to always be thinking about the unique function of the page, especially in relation to everything else on the website.
For these detail pages, we want to focus on a unique, singular product or service. By the very nature of being this targeted, we want to be more detailed. We also want to be highly intent-focused here, which means we consider what our ideal searcher or ideal audience wants to find from these detail pages. We also want to drive an action from a user on these pages almost always. High quality detail pages, compared to the competitors, are also critical. We really want to try to convey trust here, because we’re at the deepest level now. When users are looking for that detail, you want to provide it in such a way that conveys trust.
Of course, we want details pages to have great titles and H1s and H2s that are highly locked-in and targeted. We can also be a little bit more liberal with things like body copy and keyword insertion, because we want to make sure that we’re addressing all the different things that a user might care about. If it takes more copy to do that, great. Also think about the internal links, using a hierarchy people can use to work their way quickly back up through the website. We want to have great CTAs on this page, and they should be fast and have great imagery as well.