What are the best practices for balancing the use of SEO tools with human intelligence? How do I know exactly what type of content to enter into title tags and meta descriptions to boost SEO performance for the page? These are great questions that I’m frequently asked, and here’s a quick and easy way to understand the SEO landscape.
It's generally considered a best practice to include your primary keyword close to the beginning of your title tag as well as somewhere in your meta description. There are many great SEO tools and plugins that can be helpful to check that you’re on the right track for optimizing your page content. Here are a few you can try:
- Yoast SEO for WordPress
- All in One SEO Pack for WordPress
- Webflow SEO tools
- SEMRush SEO Tools
- Searchmetrics Content Optimizer
Although the easy optimizer tools can be helpful, it's important to note that presence of your primary keywords in any on-page SEO element (e.g. title and meta description) has lost its correlation to actual top rankings over the last couple years. You can download the Searchmetrics Ranking Factors Study for more details on which SEO elements correspond most closely with high search rankings. Your best choice is to utilize your human intelligence to strike a balance between utilizing on-page SEO tactics with user experience. Because search engines are trying to deliver content that people actually enjoy, I recommend emphasizing user experience above all else.
For many years now, the meta description has only been considered to have an indirect impact on SEO rankings only so far as click-through rate from search results and time-on-site impacts your rankings moving forward. So when you craft a page title or meta description, try to get into the mindset of the searcher by writing something that may entice the person to click through, while also corresponding strongly with the actual content the page delivers. While you want people to click through, you also want to make sure you are following up with content that resonates for that user based upon his/her mindset.
Perhaps a good balance would be something like this:
- SEO Page Title: Primary Keyword | Something enticing or a brand statement
- Meta Description: Something that tells you about what you'll get on the page followed by an enticing call-to-action.
The bottom line is that you should create a solid site structure and try to make sure you're not confusing the search engines with errors, broken links and duplicate content. But all of the on-page and technical SEO tactics you can employ are just the cost of admission to the game of SEO. To really succeed, you have to focus on creating compelling content and a user experience that keeps people coming back for more.
You can open a chain of burger restaurants with the nicest signs in the world, but those will only get people through the door once. If your burgers taste bad, no one will come back. No one will tell their friends to go there either. Eventually, you won’t have any more customers. You might have another hole-in-the-wall burger restaurant down the street with no signs, but it could be overflowing with business from word-of-mouth. SEO is the same way. There are some basic tactics you can employ on your site to give you a competitive advantage, but ultimately it’s all in the beef.
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