Now that you’ve done your Keyword Research and settled on your top 10, now what?
Well, let me tell ya.
Headlines vs. title tags, and what’s the dif?
Let’s start at the top, which seems like a logical place to begin.
What’s a headline
Headlines, aka H1 tags, are what you normally find at the top of a blog article. “Thanks, Captain Obvious. Everybody knows what a headline is.” We read or hear hundreds of them each day.
But what makes one headline grab our attention while another is just noise?
A bad headline can be disastrous. It’s soul-crushing. Spending the time to pour your heart and soul into a piece of long-form content, only for it to get zero views…😫 And all because your headline sucked.
Luckily, there are resources available to help you with this. I’ll get to that later.
Your headline has to perform double duty. Not only should it lure in your audience, but it also needs to flag search engines to take a look. Therefore, it’s a good practice to include a keyword relative to your content.
What’s a title tag?
Title tags appear on SERP pages, and also, they are seen when a post is shared through social media.
If you haven’t defined a title tag, most web platforms will default your title tag to your headline. So what is the difference, and why should you care?
- Title tags rank higher with Google’s search crawlers than Header tags.
- Title tags need to be short and sweet. Ideally, a maximum of 40 characters, whereas your headline can be up to 70 characters for optimum performance. If you use the default header tag, Google will automatically cut off excess words and replace them with (…) Looks like I still have some work to do. 😉
- A clever title tag will improve your CTR – Click Through Rate. It’s one thing to show up on page one of Google’s search results, but if your title tag doesn’t grab enough attention to result in a click-through to read more, then it’s pointless.
- Both headline tags and title tags should include one keyword each. But headline tags can take advantage of long-tail keywords because you have more characters at your disposal.
Think of it this way…Your title tag should be strong enough that when it comes up in a search, it’s attractive enough to get the searcher to think, ” Hey, this article looks like it’s going to scratch my itch or solve my problem.” And then, once they click through, your headline tag should confirm they made the right decision. Plus, you get a few bonus words to do so.
H1, vs. H2, vs H3, vs H4 and does it even matter?
We now know that H1 is the headline of your article, and therefore, you should only use one H1 per post. But between H2, H3 and H4, you can use as many or as few as you like. It is more a question of styling than anything else. Google’s algorithm doesn’t appear to give more weight to one over the other.
But headlines are critical to SEO.
Google’s algorithm does a pretty good job of scanning your article to see if its content matches its customer’s search inquiries. But it’s not perfect. Using headlines that include your keywords is like putting up signposts to say, “Yoohoo….Over here – waving their hands frantically in the air. We got what you are looking for!”
And an extra benefit to using sub-headings is that it breaks up your text, increasing your user engagement rate. Nothing brings on a migraine more than trying to read a massive block of text.
You’ll want your visitors to arrive at your site, look around and decide it’s worth grabbing a cup of tea and exploring more. Google will reward you with a proverbial high-five, and its algorithm gives extra love to websites with high engagement rates.
Sprinkle your keywords throughout your article. Don’t, however, repeat the same keywords over and over like a geriatric. It can get a little monotonous and spammy, which leads to a lower engagement rate. No bueno.
The general rule of thumb is to keep keywords to 1 to 2% of the total number of words. That’s approximately one keyword per every 100 words.
Personally, I still feel a little dirty even dropping that many keywords so next up…
Latent Semantic Indexing….say what?
Thank goodness, Google has mastered the English language and is best buds with Roget, as in the guy who wrote that book that really should have been entitled…” In Other Words.” Way more catchy than “Thesaurus.”
Latent semantic indexing is Google’s way of combing your content and parsing out words and phrases that mean the same as your keyword. That way, you don’t end up feeling like Bart Simpson standing at the chalkboard.
A valuable resource to find variations of your chosen keywords is none other than Google itself. Type your keyword into the search bar, scroll to the bottom of the found results, and you’ll see “Related Searches.”
Using keywords with images
Henrik Ibsen said, “A picture is worth a 1000 words” but he passed away long before the first website was ever designed. In terms of SEO, using your keywords to describe your images also helps Google find your content. There are four areas to consider:
Image File Name
Like the title might suggest, this is the label you give to the image file. Normally, left unattended, they look like this….IMG_4675309 or some variation thereof. It’s better if you can upload that image using the keyword you are targeting. Image file names do not have a huge impact on SEO, but it keeps things tidy, and Google likes tidy.
Alternatively…alt text is where it’s at in terms of SEO. The purpose of Alt Text is to help visually impaired users understand the context of an image. And, it serves a secondary function useful in terms of SEO. Google’s crawlers are intentionally looking for Alt Text so be sure to use your long-tail keyword. You have up to 125 characters, don’t waste them.
You can leave this blank. It serves a purpose, but for the scope of this article and your marketing needs as a travel advisor, you can skip it. Phew. One less thing to worry about.
Captions don’t have a direct impact on SEO. It’s a personal choice if you want to use them or not. In the world of travel, captions can come in handy because we often post images of places. A caption will help your site visitor identify where the photo was taken. That makes the visitor happy, and happy visitors hang around on your page longer, and Google thinks… this shit must be good. Ching, ching… you’ve just earned yourself another star!
Travel agents rely heavily on local business. Therefore, a great SEO practice when uploading any website image is to geotag the photo first. Subscribers of my weekly emails get additional tips and tricks that I reserve exclusively for them, like how to geotag your image. If you haven’t signed up yet, you should. But feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you the deets.
Meta description – should you bother?
Meta descriptions are those paragraphs of text that flow right below your title tag on the SERP page and provide a brief description of what the content of your page is about. They are helpful in terms of your CTR – Click Through Rate. People are more apt to click to find out more if they like the teaser of your description, but Google’s crawlers do not troll this area looking for keywords. Another thing you can scratch off your list.
Yoast SEO – a plugin-must for WordPress users
My final tip on the topic of using keywords to get more traffic to your travel website is a handy and free plugin called Yoast SEO. If you don’t use WordPress, this tip is as useful as learning that rubber bands last longer when refrigerated. You can move on.
But for those of you who do use WordPress, Yoast is a must. I go into much more detail on how to use Yoast, along with a ton of other SEO tips in the travel course I’m creating. If you haven’t reserved your spot, you can do so <here>. Yes, there is a paid version, but the free option is all you need to get started.
And, you’ll find that as soon as you install Yoast SEO onto your site, there will be some intuitive functionality right out of the box, including its headline assistant. Remember the importance of using captivating headlines; Yoast offers guidance to help you nail it.
If you found this article helpful, I’d so appreciate if you used the social share buttons to forward it to a friend. Then my page’s engagement rate will go up, and I will get a high-five from Google, and life will be complete.
Up next, On-Page Optimization and quick tips to get you noticed. Stay tuned.