In our third session of Automotive SEO 101, we're going to cover optimizing the headings and content that appears on your pages. If you missed the groundwork we laid on keyword research and title tag optimization, then go back and review those previous sessions. Without a foundation of strong keyword phrases and well optimized titles, your pages will struggle to rank.
You've probably heard the old SEO adage that "content is king." And even though ranking algorithms grow more complex every day, your pages still need content to rank well. Search engines continue to rely on what they find on your pages to understand what they're about and when to serve them up in results.
Headings (H1 Tags)
Just like every article in a newspaper has a headline, every page on your site should have a heading tag.
The H1 tag serves as the headline for your page and should sum up the page's subject as a whole. You can have as many headings on a page as you want, but the only one that really makes a difference in ranking is the H1 tag - and you should only ever have a single H1 per page. If you want more headings, use H2, H3, etc.
There are a few guidelines to keep in mind when writing and optimizing your H1 tags:
Keywords - Use the same keyword phrases as you did in your titlle
Natural language - Don't just jam keywords together in a nonsensical way
Reasonable length - Keep the headline from running on too long; think about it like a newspaper editor
As an example, let's optimize the H1 tag of a homepage:
Keyword phrases: honda CA, los angeles honda dealer
Title tag: Honda CA - Los Angeles Honda Dealer | Bruce Willis Honda of Hollywood
H1 tag: Welcome to Your Los Angeles, CA Honda Dealer - Bruce Willis Honda of Hollywood
A properly optimized H1 tag sets the stage for the content that follows. When the blurb or paragraphs under the headline are optimized for the same keywords as the H1 tag and the title tag, that page has a clear focus and makes it easy for search engines to understand what it's about.
When writing and optimizing copy for your pages, adhere to the following rules:
Use keywords - Use each of the keyword phrases your page is optimized for at least once
Unique content - Write original content yourself; don't use an automated program or copy it from elsewhere, as Google penalizes sites with poor, duplicated or stolen content
Length requirements - At least 100 words whenever possible
Semantic relevance - Use other keywords that are naturally related to the phrases that you're optimizing for
Example: if your page is optimized for "Los Angeles Honda dealer," also use the words dealership, dealers, LA, California, etc.
Always keep your content sounding natural. Google's Panda and Penguin algorithm updates look for spam signals in content: poor grammar, unnatural language and keyword stuffing are now big red flags to search engines.
Read your content out loud to yourself before publishing it - if it sounds strange or awkward because you've mentioned Honda 20 times in a 100-word blurb, it's probably going to hurt you more than it will help you.
The last part of on-page content optimization involves images. While not as important as headings and written content for ranking, optimizing your images provides an extra bump in relevance and pulls in a little extra traffic through image searches.
The fundamentals of image optimization are very simple, but many content management systems struggle to take advantage of them:
Filename - Use the page's primary keyword phrase as the filename for the image, with dashes for spaces
ALT tag - Use the same primary keyword phrase as the ALT tag for the image; this is the text search engines display when the image won't load
Example: <img src="http://content.brucewillishonda.com/cms/2012-honda-accord-los-angeles.jpg" alt="2012 Honda Accord Los Angeles">
If you have multiple images on the page, use your page's secondary keyword phrase for the next image, and then semantically related keywords for the others. By optimizing the images on your pages, you provide another signal to search engines as to what your page is about.
There are other, more advanced tags that you can use with images, such as geolocation, that reportedly increase rankings for certain local searches. But the filename and ALT tag are the two strongest elements in image optimization.
By optimizing your pages' headings, written content and images with the same keywords you used in your titles, you send a very strong signal to Google that your pages should rank highly for all your keywords.
Image Credit: Brewbooks