No matter how some SEO expert denies the fact that Keyword doesn’t matter at all in 2020. But still, Keyword is an important element that helps Google decide the context of a web page.
In fact, Google’s own “How Search Works” report states that:
Even though Google is MUCH smarter than it was back in the day, they still use old school stuff like looking for a specific search term in your web page.
Having said that just placing exact match keyword in your web page doesn’t guarantee that your page will rank in Top of the search result. There is more into On-page SEO (Which we will discuss further.)
05. Are you targeting the right keyword in your blog post?
It is the fact that you can’t rank for every single keyword. So, before selecting a keyword, You need to go through extensive keyword qualification and competitor analysis processes to ensure that you’re targeting the right keywords in your blog post.
I am not going to share everything about Keyword research in this post as I have already written an in-depth guide on Keyword research.
Still, here is a quick overview of how to validate your keyword ideas:
First, run your keyword through the SEMrush Keyword overview tool or any other SEO tool of your choice.
You can quickly eliminate keyword based on the Keyword difficulty (KD) score shown by SEMrush. For example, if your website is relatively new, you shouldn’t target a keyword greater than 50 KD.
Once you think Keyword difficulty score is achievable for you, further compare your website against top 10 website ranking for the same search term in search result.
You should gather the following data point for each of your competitor:
- Site age, Domain Rating (DR), Total backlinks that web page has received, Total domain linking to Root Domain URL,
- Word Count and structure of the web page
By now you’ll have a clear road-map of what you’ll need to do to compete for your target keyword.
06. Is your primary keyword assigned to another piece of content?
You should never target your primary keyword across multiple posts or pages on your site.
Assigning the same keywords to more than one page can cause keyword cannibalization issue, wherein search engines don’t know which page is more important and, therefore, rank neither page (or devalue the most relevant page).
The simple way to keep tabs on your blog and make sure you don’t cannibalize your own content is to create a spreadsheet that lists each of your blog posts and pages URLs and their corresponding focus keywords.
07. Is your primary keyword appearing in Title?
Having your target keyword present in your title tag helps you gain favor in search engines.
This is widely considered as one of the most important on page SEO factor.
Because it allows search crawlers to get an idea of what the main topic is going to be about, within the first few milliseconds of crawling your new page.
And there’s data to back this up.
Backlinko’s analysis of 1 million Google search results found a strong correlation between keyword-rich title tags and first page rankings.
Try to include your keyword closer to the beginning of your title tag and keep the entire title under 55 characters.
08. Is your Title Tag Optimized for CTR?
Optimizing your title tag for CTR is very important for two main reasons.
First, higher click-through-rate=more traffic.
For example, If you increase your Organic CTR from 15 to 30% that means you just doubled your organic traffic without higher ranking.
Second, many SEO professionals believe that CTR is a key search engine ranking signal.
For example, In one of their experiment, Larry Kim found a strong correlation between “expected CTR” and search rankings. (Source)
In fact, Google itself has made statement several time that suggest CTR is part of their search engine ranking algorithim.
For example, A Google engineer Paul Haahr, who spoke at SMX said that they use CTR to figure out what type of results users want to see in SERP.
So it’s clear that a higher CTR can lead to higher rankings as well as more traffic.
With that being said, here are few best practices for optimizing your title tag for CTR.
- Add modifiers to your Title tag. Using modifiers like “The” “best”, “guide”, “checklist”, “fast” and “review” “2020” will not only get you more click but also helps you rank for Long tail keywords.
- Use Brackets In Your Title Tag. Example : How to start a Blog (Ultimate Guide)
- Include Numbers In Your Title. Example : The 16 Best Wireless Headphones for Everyone
- Put the Current Year In Your Title. Example : How to learn Coding in 2020
- Use Emotional Words in your title. Example : 12 Super Easy Ways To Keep Your Taxes Organized All Year.
09. Is your Blog Post Title Wrapped in an H1 Tag?
The H1 tag is like a mini title tag.
Your every blog post should have only one H1 tag and your main title should be wrapped in an H1 tag.
In fact, Google itself has stated that using an H1 tag “helps their crawler understand the structure of the page”.
In most cases, WordPress website automatically assigns your main title with an H1 tag. But that’s not always the case (Because of theme and structure issue).
You should check your site’s code to make sure your title is wrapped in an H1.
10. Are you using unique, Keyword-Rich Meta Descriptions?
Though , Google often rewrites meta descriptions with first few sentences of your post, but it’s a still good idea to write a descriptive one that includes your primary keyword.
In fact, Google also recommends that you should write your own meta description as you know the context of your content best.
Here’s what makes for a good meta description:
- Keep it under 160 characters.
- Include your entire keyword or keyword phrase.
- Use a complete, compelling sentence (or two).
- Avoid alphanumeric characters like —, &, or +.
11. Is your Blog Post URL optimized for SEO?
Though Google recently started using a weird version of URLs format in the search results, even then the terms that you use in your Blog Post URL show up in the SERP.
Plus, URLs in the mobile and desktop SERPs are now shown above the title tag.
So, it makes sense to have an SEO optimized URL for your blog post.
With that, here is what makes a SEO friendly URL:
- Keep your URL short
- Include your primary keyword in the URL
Seriously. That’s it.
For example, my guide to Top 10 WordPress hosting is optimized around the primary keyword “Best WordPress hosting”. So I used that keyword in my URL.
12. Have you Used Your Primary Keyword Once In The First 150 Words?
Though it is an old school on-page optimization tactic, it still makes a dent.
Because Google puts more weight on the first 100-150 words of your body content.
So, all you need to do is drop your primary keyword once in the first 100-150 words of your blog post.
For example, In one of my article optimized around the keyword “WordPress SEO“, I mentioned the exact keyword in the very first sentence.
NOTE: If the exact match keyword is not naturally appearing in the first 100-150 words, then please don’t unnaturally place it.
13. Have you used variations of your primary keyword into the copy?
Do you know the average top 20 ranking articles rank for thousands of other keywords (other than primary keyword).
This means that most of the time, the bulk of your traffic won’t come from your primary keyword – it’ll come from hundreds of different long-tail variations.
So, how to find other variation of your primary keyword.
Well, just enter your primary keyword in the SEMrush keyword magic tool and the tool will show it’s magic.
For example, I entered the key phrase “Keto Diet” in keyword magic tool and it shewed me total 108,891 keywords related to my primary key phrase.
You can further play with SEMrush filters to get only relevant keyword ideas.
14. Have you used Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords in Your Copy?
I personally never specifically advise anyone to sprinkle synonyms and LSI keywords throughout their content.
Because I believe any decent writer will use synonyms naturally as they write.
Similarly one never has to made a conscious effort to include LSI keyword in their content. if you’re a decent writer, these words will appear naturally. No extra effort needed.
LSI keywords are words and phrases with a high degree of correlation to your target topic
But still, it is an SEO checklist, so I have mentioned about this in this guide.