SEO gurus are still deciding whether the keyword is dead. But people still need to search, and until computers can read our minds, people need to type in words to conduct that search.
Still, just focusing on putting those keywords in exactly the right spot is dead. Search engines used to prefer keywords in specific locations, which helped decide whether the page is relevant. As algorithms become more and more complicated, keyword placement is less of a factor in on-site optimization.
Here’s our handy checklist for on-page and on-site optimization:
1. Check your metadata. Your page names should contain keywords and your blog should be set up to put keywords, not dates or numbers, in the post URL.
2. Don’t block the robots! Make sure your pages and posts are crawlable and that you have submitted a sitemap to Google and other search engines. If you don’t know what this means, ask your web guru.
3. Keywords should be placed in the page title, headline, first sentence and multiple times in the body. (WordPress users can try a plugin such as Yoast to help with this.) But write for humans. Google has caught on to pages overstuffed with keywords, so write naturally. Be sure your image contain alt attributes and captions, preferably with keywords.
4. Make it easy for the reader. Your pages and posts should be easy to navigate, attractive and easy to read.
5. Add internal and external links to your posts and pages. That means link from one page/post to another on your site, and to other relevant websites.
6. Be mobile friendly. Your site MUST be mobile or responsive. The increasing number of readers using mobile devices is staggering. And it’s only going up, up, up. (Update: Now, it must be responsive.)
7. Sign up for Google authorship. We mention this in nearly every SEO blog post we write for a reason. Do it, and be sure to list your site as one for which you write. (Updated: Google authorship is no longer a thing.)
8. Create unique, valuable content. Create something that appears nowhere else and provides something your customers/clients want.
9. Be sharable. Search engines consider shares “votes” for how well something is liked and/or how useful it is. Get more shares to increase your rankings.