In the past I had already written a guide on SEO copywriting , over the years the slides of the course have been enriched and updated, so I have enough material for a new, more detailed article. In this guide I would like to summarize the elements of an HTML page, tags and more, that a professional SEO copywriter should know .
- What are tags?
- SEO Copywriter tags
- Optimize the snippet in SERP
- Title tag
- Meta description
- Heading H1
- Headings H2-H6
- Strong, italic, underlined
- Anchor text
- Write the URLs
- Body tag
- Alt tag of images
- Optimize images for Google
- Open Graph
What are HTML tags?
HTML tags allow you to build a logical-hierarchical structure to organize the display of hypertext content on the browser screen. The tags (containers or labels) of an HTML page are meta data associated with information (a text, an image, a geographic map, a post, a video clip …), which describe the object with a language suitable for interpretation. from a search engine and a web browser. HTML tags are not displayed on the user’s screen, the browser interprets and applies them. So we will never see them on the browser, we will only be able to observe their effects. To see the list of HTML tags on a web page, view the source code of the HTML document.
Certain types of tags are used by browsers to generate the web page respecting the style set by the author, the tags allow us to display a sentence in bold or with a particular character formatting, to insert a hyperlink (link) or a image in text, create a table, and so on. Other types of tags, such as meta tags, meta data or HTML5 tags, are used by search engines such as Google to interpret the content, the information entered on the page.
SEO Copywriter tags
An SEO copywriter writes optimized content for the web, in order to do so he must know very well the “levers” that are at his disposal to make his content perform at its best. These levers are the HTML tags with which you can give more or less emphasis and relevance to the information you have written.
The elements that a copywriter must optimize are:
- Title tag: The actual title of the page, probably the most important SEO tag. Information not visible on the page, is a meta data.
- Meta description: the description that appears under the title in search engine results. Information not visible on the page, is a meta data.
- Headings: H1-H6 title and subtitles, heading / headings visible on the page.
- Index: Learn how to create an internal index for easier navigation.
- Anchor text: clickable text of the links.
- Alt tag: the description of the image given to search engines and web readers.
- Body tag: the body of the text, the content visible on the screen.
- Strong & Italic: minor formatting tag
- Open Graph: meta data used by social networks to obtain info on shared content.
Optimize the snippet in SERP
The first thing to do in terms of SEO copywriting is to optimize how our pages appear in search engine results.
Remember that before a user lands on your page, Google must find the page, interpret it and understand it . Google is not a human being, you have to use simple and machine-understandable text if you want to get maximum visibility in the results. Once Google considers your page relevant to a user query, it will show your snippet.
The “snippet”, or the result on Google, must attract the eye and must convince the user that it is the best result to click.
To this end you will have to work on the meta tags that make up the snippet, in detail on the title tag and meta description.Optimize your meta tags
Optimize the Title tag
Let’s see the collection of guidelines for a correct compilation of the title tag:
- The title tag is an eye catching tag and an invisible tag !
- The title must be thought of as the label of the article in the unlimited library of the Internet.
- Write headlines that are clear from the start and very specific , with a focus on high-traffic, low-competition keywords. Readers of the web are fast, so you need to create a title that is immediately understandable and absolutely clear.
- Don’t make the title brilliant by using irony, pun, double entender, or other journalistic approaches that a computer would not understand.
- Do not repeat the words , place the main keyword at the opening of the title, write unique titles for each page, no misleading titles, no double meanings, no focus on secondary issues.
- Sometimes (but not always) it is useful to convey curiosity to the reader by entering a title in the form of a question. Do you know which is the most expensive pendant in the world?
- The numbers in the headlines seem to like it: the most read articles of many online newspapers use numbers.
- 10 ways to …
- The 5 best hotels in …
- 7 strategies to improve …
- Could the title be written by a reader on a search engine? All SEO experts agree on one point: in the title of an article it is essential to insert the keywords of the content itself.
- The title must effectively describe the content of the page.
- The title includes the main keywords.
- The title is not a slogan , it must target commercial, practical, real keywords.
- It should be the first meta tag as a position in the HTML.
- It is the first tag as SEO importance.
This infographic shows data from a Conductor research relating to the effectiveness of inserting certain elements in the title tag, such as numbers, questions, “how to”.
The formal rules to be respected when filling in the title tag are:
- Maximum length: 55/65 characters including spaces or 482 pixels .
- The title must start with the most important keyword . Because? See the gallery below.
- Always enter the company name at the end of the title? Remember the site title hanging at the end when measuring the length of the title tag!
- Do not enter repeated keywords, it is not necessary.
- Write unique titles for each page.
- Avoid stop-words (articles, conjunctions, etc) if possible.
- Titles less than 30 characters: they do not use all the space (keywords) available.
- Titles longer than 55 characters: Cropped titles are less effective.
- Unclear titles : if a user doesn’t understand the title, they don’t click it.
- Duplicate titles : each page must have its own unique and original title.
- Missing titles : a missing title is a very serious mistake!
Below is a gallery of heatmaps generated on Google results. The examples are taken from searches in different LTR (left to right) languages but all based on the Latin alphabet, they are read and written from left to right . It is now clearer why it is better to start the title tag with the most important keyword? If you put the primary keyword at the end of the sentence, on the right, you risk that the user’s eye will not see it and therefore end up clicking on another result. And if your title is too long, you risk that your primary keyword will be cut by Google.
The area of greatest attention creates a sort of right triangle with focus on the left vertical. Remember this when writing your titles.
Optimize the Meta description tag
The description meta tag is shown in the SERP results below the title and should describe the page content in more characters. Let’s see the collection of guidelines for a correct compilation of the meta description tag.
- Meta tags are metadata present in the HTML language used to provide information on pages to users or search engines. The meta description tag appears below the title in search results.
- Creating a specific and unique and original meta description tag for each page is always a good idea.
- The words in the snippet are in bold if they are used in the user’s search!
- The description meta data is intended to contain a brief description of the page contents.
- Google bolds the words of the description in the snippet if they match the words the user is looking for. Again – think about what you’d google to find your product and use that query to build title tags and meta descriptions.
The formal rules to be respected in compiling the meta description tag are:
- Better empty than duplicated
- Max 155 characters including spaces or 920 pixels
- Use the important keyword in the beginning
- Unique descriptions for each page
- Don’t repeat words more than 2 times
- Descriptions of less than 70 characters: they do not use all the space (keywords) available.
- Descriptions greater than 155 characters: Cropped descriptions are less effective.
- Unclear descriptions : If a user doesn’t understand the snippet, they don’t click it.
- Duplicate descriptions : each page must have its own unique and original description.
- Missing descriptions : Google extracts some text from the page and displays it as a description if it is not provided by the webmaster.
Heading or headings, are the tags from H1 to H6 and are used to enlarge and emphasize the text. As in a book they represent chapters and sub-chapters.
Use the header tags to structure the content like in the image just shown. H1-H6 tags are very strong for conveying the logic and structure of the content to Google, use them to your advantage.
Use header tags to emphasize important text. Since header tags typically make the text contained within them larger than normal text on the page, this is a visual cue to users that this text is important. I recommend using headings to divide content into logical and hierarchical areas, making it easier for users to navigate your document.
The formal rules to be respected in compiling the H1 tag are:
- Always use the H1 tag
- Use only one H1 tag per page *
- Enter the primary keyword in H1
- You can copy the title tag
- Use H2, H3,…, H6 in succession
- Use a maximum of 6/10 words for a single heading tag
In the pre-HTML5 standard only one H1 tag was allowed per page, personally I still follow this directive.
- Place the text in the header tags which would not be useful for defining the page structure.
- Use header tags when other tags such as <em> and <strong> might be more appropriate.
- Uneven dimensions between the various H1-H6 tags.
- Use headings sparingly on the page
- Use the headings tags where it makes sense. Too many header tags on a page can make it difficult for users to crawl content and determine where one topic ends and another begins.
- Excessive use of header tags on a page.
- Very long headings. Refer to the rules for the title tag and your H1 will be perfect accordingly.
- Use header tags only to style the text and not to structure the content.
The H2-H6 tags define the sub topics covered and the information hierarchy. Imagine writing a draft. Similar to drawing up an outline for a large document, think about what the main points and sub-points of the page content will be and decide where to use the header tags appropriately.
Google is known to appreciate on-page indexes and bulleted lists, they are an easy way to format information and make it easy to navigate.
Practically in all my articles I insert an index with internal anchors: in fact the index does not point to other pages but serves to scroll the active page up to the point of interest, so the user can quickly navigate even rich and complex information.
How to create an HTML index
To implement the menu in your article you need to create two elements: the link (a href) and the anchor (a name). The link will be the actual index made to the bulleted list, the anchor instead is the point in the HTML page where the browser must move.
Remember that the reference name in the link (a href) must be preceded by the hash #, while in the anchor (a name) you must not use the hash.
Strong, italic, underlined
Bold, italic and underline represent minor formatting tags, they have low SEO importance.
The standard for search engines is the strong tag , not bold!
Use the strong tag on the main keyword and some related and relevant words, without exaggerating otherwise you will lose the focus effect.
enriches the hypertext, the variety pleases users and Google. Use italics on quotes, foreign terms, idioms, …
One anchor is the clickable text of a link . The anchor pointing to a page is used by Google to assign relevance to the document. In other words: if there are many links on the site that point to a page with still “soccer cards”, Google will understand that that page should rank for “soccer cards” because it is relevant. The following image was created by Google and I think it expresses the concept very clearly.
Optimize internal link anchors
Why is anchor text important? It helps Google and the user to identify, understand and interpret the linked content, even before it is read / scanned.
Search engines use anchor text to determine what the page is about and what query this page might be relevant to. It is essential to use very specific and targeted anchor text in internal links – avoid generic terms (home, what we do, services, …).
One of the ranking factors that characterizes anchor text is semantic relevance . The semantic relevance of a link is determined by the relationship between the page content, the content of the page it links, and the anchor text. The stronger this relevance is, the more importance the text anchor acquires (it reminds me a lot of the AdWords Quality Score ).
With the Panda and Penguin update , Google has begun to investigate link text anchors more and more deeply , both for internal links and for backlinks.