This guide is a simple how to do SEO basics for content editors who use a content management system (CMS) – such as WordPress – to edit websites for their organisation. For some CMS systems, it may not be possible to edit certain areas of content discussed and they may need support from IT and web developers.
Every page on the website should be optimised for a separate primary keyword that is relevant to the page. This is something most people miss – they try to optimise every page of their site for the same keywords which means search engines will have a struggle determining which page on your site is most relevant to serve as a result to the person searching. By not choosing different keywords for different pages, you will also miss out on extra traffic you could get from a diverse set of keywords across the site.
Decide on variations of keywords that could be relevant to someone searching for the current page. For example, for the CIM courses page on Oxford College of Marketing website this could be: cim courses, cim qualifications, cim marketing).
2. Research search volume
The next step is to go to Google Keyword Planner and login with your Google account. If you haven’t already got one, you will be asked to open an Adwords account – go ahead, it’s free! You will now have access to the Google Keyword Planner. Choose ‘Discover new keywords’ then paste your seed list of keywords into the first box. Make sure the correct language and country for your website is selected then click the blue ‘Get results’ button.
This is how it looks for the example we are working with:
On the next screen, you will see your keywords plus a list of other keyword suggestions courtesy of Google and you can sort them by estimated monthly search volume (this is the volume of people searching in the United Kingdom).
3. Choose the best keyword for the page (primary keyword)
Choose the one that has the highest amount of average monthly searches but is still relevant to the page you will be using it on. We’ll use this information in the next section of ‘content optimisation’. This is your primary keyword.
The content will tell the search engines what the pages are about and therefore help the search engine in determining if your page is relevant when a user searches for a certain keyword. To assist the search engines in making the decision if your page is relevant, we can use the selected keyword in some key areas on the page:
1. Meta title
The Meta title appears in the tab at the top of your web browser and as the blue title text you see in search engine results pages. They are the biggest indicator to search engines about the page content and what it should be ranked for. Ensure these are unique to every page and feature the primary keywords you want to be discovered for.
This is how our example looks in the search engine results pages, with our primary keyword highlighted in red:
2. Meta description
The meta description allows you to control the snippet of text that is shown on search engine results pages (SERPs), shown above. This can be important in encouraging a user to click-through to the website, and the more often a user clicks, the more relevant the search engine will consider you for that search term. Ensure there is a strong call-to-action (CTA) in your meta descriptions as well as your primary keyword.
Best practice: Make sure you use between 50-160 characters and put your primary keyword (‘cim courses’ in this example) within the description.
Headings are important for search engine optimisation and there should only be one main heading on each page, focused around your primary keywords for that specific page. However, from our keyword research, we can also include additional keywords if appropriate to the page. In this example, the Title is written to target the keywords “cim courses”, but could be rewritten as “CIM Courses and Qualifications”:
Note: the page heading should be enclosed in an <H1> HTML tag (ask your web developer to check on this), and there should only be one <H1> HTML tag on a page.
4. Body text
Content on each page should generally be greater than 350 words in order to give search engines enough information to determine the subject of the content. If the content is still readable by a human by doing so, include your primary keyword in the first and last sentences and in the middle paragraphs. Using synonyms for your keyword will also help as well as looking at the ‘Searches related to…’ section at the bottom of a search result for your primary keyword on Google.
5. URL (web address)
The URL (web address) is another place we should try to include the primary keyword. In some CMS systems, there will be a field named ‘slug’ where you can edit the name of the URL (by default, this is often created automatically based on the Page Title you have given).
It is very important that if you ever need to change the URL of an existing page or delete a page, that you should request this from your Webmaster/IT Team as they should be able to ensure that anyone visiting/linking to the old URL (including search engines) will end up on the new one by using a redirect.
6. Image file names and ALT text
You should complete the ALT text field for every image you use when adding content (most CMS systems allow this). This tells search engines what the image is about, and therefore gives indicators on what the page subject is about. It is also great for usability. You should also look at your image file names and ensure they are the same as the image ALT text if possible.
Try to ensure the image ALT text field uses your primary keyword for that page, whilst also describing what the image shows. Always ensure the description text accurately describes the image, even if you cannot fit the keyword into the description.
7. Internal linking text
This is the last step and should only be completed if you have sufficient time and authority to edit other pages where you want to create hyperlinks to your new page from. What we want to do here is find where our primary keyword appears in the body text of other pages within the website and make sure that they are a hyperlinking to the page we are optimising.
For our example, we want to find any pages on www.oxfordcollegeofmarketing.com that are using the text “cim courses” but not linking to the page we are optimising. Fortunately, we can do this quickly with the power of an advanced Google search using site:oxfordcollegeofmarketing.com “primary keyword here”.
In the above example, we see possible pages where we could add a hyperlink for our primary keyword (of course, one of those pages will be the destination page we are optimising – in this case, the top page is the one we want to optimise for that search term).
The example below shows where we would insert the hyperlink to link to the page we are optimising:
Note that we only want to link out to our target page once using the exact match keyword from a given article/body of text to avoid sending signals to search engine that we are “over optimising”. We can, however, link out from page navigation as well as the main body of an article – search engines are smart enough to recognise the difference!
That’s our wrap up of some of the SEO basics for content editors. Just going through your website and making small edits like this, can have a big impact on bringing relevant traffic to your website over time.
If you want to expand your knowledge and skills of key digital marketing concepts, why not find out more about our range of marketing courses and qualifications. Get your two-week free trial by contacting us or completing the form on our website.
This post was written by Lee Benning, a freelance marketing consultant and tutor at Oxford College of Marketing.