While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may be a large subject and rather daunting for most of our customers, there are many things that anyone can do to make a positive impact on your site’s SEO. Most of those basics fall under a category called “On-Page SEO”, which pretty much means as you’d expect – it’s the content on the page. But “content” isn’t just the words you wrote – it’s everything on that page, including your headlines, formatting, images and more. (Note: in the “old” days of SEO, on-page SEO meant keywords. Keywords in HTML code are no longer recommended.)
The classic newspaper was structured with organization and priority – capturing the readers attention, engaging the audience. You knew that the big headline at the front was deemed the most important article of the day. You knew where to go to find information on sports, business and more. The use of headlines, headline size and consistent delivery of relevant information where users expected it to be is not too far removed from how a website can, and perhaps should, be structured today.
Taking this loose model, we can start with the Page Title as the most important “headline” on a page. Then work into the other smaller headlines. But let’s not forget that the body content itself must tell the correct story for that page as well.
#1: Page Title
Page Titles are of the utmost importance. And they are easy to edit in Site Manager! Here are some tips about Page Titles:
- Page titles can – and often, should – be different from the link name (page’s URL). The link name should be short, after all, it’s a link showing in your site navigation. Page title, on the other hand, can be longer (however there is a max, so don’t get too long).
- Page titles should be relevant. This may be obvious, but we see a good number of sites out there where the page title seems to have nothing to do with the page’s actual content. This is most often when the page was updated, but the title was overlooked.
- Page titles ideally contain a keyword or keyword phrase – preferably as close to the start of the title as possible.
- After reading #3, now you must know that page titles must also make sense. Google reads as you or I read. Doesn’t make sense to you – change it!
- All pages should have page titles. At least, all pages that you want clicked.
- Updating your page titles can create a natural boost for your SEO. We’d recommend that you habitually update your page title when you are updating the content on that page, or at least make a point to review your page titles several times per year to make sure that they are still relevant.
Headlines can mean different things, so to be clear, we’re referring to the Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. tags (also referred to as H1, H2 through H6). Now, in Site Manager, we automatically create the Page Title as the H1, to make things a bit easier for many customers, but if you are needing to bring your SEO to new levels, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do some work.
Headlines work much like a good ol’ fashioned newspaper. As mentioned above, the biggest headline on the front page is the page title. Your next largest, and most important headlines are Heading 1 and Heading 2 (H1, H2), and the others follow in order down to Heading 6. However, you do not have to use all the headings on a page (and probably shouldn’t), nor do you have to necessarily even use them in order. But – do use a couple per page. Search engines pay attention to your headlines, and if your headlines are relevant and keyword based, it will help your SEO out.
If you would like to have a separate Page Title, the official <title> tag, you can do that by heading to the Page Properties and editing your Title Override field in the SEO tab. This is more advanced, so feel free to create a support ticket or chat with us if you have questions on this.
Think of headlines as natural breaking points in your content. You can also use multiple of the same heading (such as using heading 3 for each new section of content), but you should only have one Heading 1 (H1) per page.
If you want a simple guideline that will be good content building, we recommend that you leave the Page Title as the default “double-duty” of both title tag and h1 tag and then be sure to build a headline as Heading 2 (H2) on that page.
#3: Body Text
We could write many blog posts just on this subject alone, but we’ll stick with just one thought here. Is the content written so that your grandmother, your best friend and even your tween child can read and understand? Does it make sense?
Content needs to be relevant, genuine and authoritative. Think you’ve got that down? Maybe check again.
We often see websites where the page is titled About and you land on a long history or timeline about the church or school. Is that part of the “About”? Sure. Is that the first thing most readers want when they hit the About page? No. They are looking for something more immediately current, like your church service times, the basics of your beliefs, general information about your school, etc. The “now.” Instead, move history to a page called that, or at least place it lower on the page with more applicable content at the top.
Try to look at your web pages with a fresh perspective. Does the page content meet the expectations of your visitors? You aren’t writing for you – you already know all that. What do prospective families or members want to know? Be sure you’re writing to them. It can even help to have a fresh pair of eyes, especially someone who isn’t particularly familiar with your organization, take a look at your pages.
We’ll stop at this for now, but be sure to follow our blog for more tips and updates. If you have questions on how to build heading tags or edit headings and page titles as described above, just contact our support team.