Head Towards Better SEO With Headers

Headers are more than just an exciting soccer move, but actually play a very important role in Search Engine Optimization. Incorporating headers into your website can help improve web traffic and SERP rankings.

The Basics

Headers are a part of a webpage’s architecture that help separate titles from the main text of the page. There are six levels of headers  that start with header 1, or h1, and go all the way down to header 6, h6.  H1s are the most important, usually the title on the page, and are a very broad description of the topic at hand. As the header numbers increase, their text gets more specific, but they also become less important. For example, let us look at the headings for a hypothetical ice cream shop.

 

<h1>Scoops Ice Cream Shop Menu</h1>

<h2>Soft Serve</h2>

<h3>Chocolate</h3>

<h3>Vanilla</h3>

<h4>Toppings</h4>

<h5>Nuts</h5>

<h5>Sprinkles</h5>

<h2>Milkshakes</h2>

<h3>Chocolate</h3>

<h3>Vanilla</h3>

<h3>Strawberry</h3>

 

As you can see, as the header numbers increase, the topic gets more specific, from the menu, to the title of the page, to the type of ice cream, to the ice cream flavors, to the toppings before taking a step back to move onto a different type.  It is important to note that you cannot skip levels in your headings. Jumping from a h1 to an h3 will break the HTML coding. Additionally, every page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 heading. H1s are the most important heading, but having more than one creates confusion both for customers and search engines.

 

Headers and SEO

So how exactly do headers help optimize your webpage?

Importance

Headers help denote important title text from the rest of the information on the page.  Google’s Hummingbird algorithm uses headers, especially the h1 and h2s, to determine pertinent information on the page and help put relevant sites on their result page. Looking back at our example from earlier, the ice cream shop would rank well for “local soft serve”, a h2, but be ignored for “local sprinkles”, a h5.

Organization

Organization, both for you and the visitors of your web page, is another benefit of headers. Headers help to provide structure for the pages, as well as keep them organized. Pages look better and can make content easier for users to find.

Consistency

Search engine algorithms compare headers against the body text of a page when determining what to put on a results page. Headers that match the body text get ranked higher, while mismatched headers and text will fall in the rankings.

 

Pitfalls of Headers

While headers are an easy thing to start with when optimizing your website, there are a few things to avoid.

Too Many or Too Few h1s

Each page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 header. The h1 header is a vital part of the page layout and SEO, but multiple h1s usually confuse both readers and algorithms.

Spamming Text into Headers

Headers are important in identifying keywords and other important information on a page. However, tons of headers or headers with paragraphs of text are viewed as spam by some algorithms and hurt your search engine standings.

Hiding Text

One older method of getting higher rankings on search engines was to put keywords unrelated to your product in headers on your page, but coloring them the same as your background. This prevented everyone but the search engine algorithms from seeing the text and would cause irrelevant pages to pop up on SERPs. Now this practice is considered unethical and your page will be penalized.

 

Although they do not have the biggest impact on your SEO,  headers are an important part of your optimization process and an easy way to score some goals early on.
For more basic SEO, check out our Basics of the Basics article. For more pitfalls to look out for as you begin your journey, check out our 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Beginning Your SEO Journey.

SEO blogs to add to your RSS feed

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “why would this amazingly helpful SEO blog promote other SEO blogs?” But if you think back to our post about link building campaigns, you will remember that being friendly, even with competitors, is helpful for a website’s authority. So, here are some pretty great SEO blogs that answer some more in-depth questions you might have about SEO and optimizing your content marketing.

The Moz Blog

Moz is already a leader in subscribable and downloadable SEO tools, so it is no surprise that their blog is a leader in search as well. When visiting the Moz Blog, you won’t find shameless plugs for their costly tools and devices. Instead your reading will open SEO doors that you didn’t know existed.

Much of the blog is devoted to how-to’s that are fairly straight-forward if you are looking to improve some aspects of your site. Even better, is Moz’s thoughtful posts on content marketing in general. These types of posts are great for those who are looking to expand on their website topics after you’ve been in the content marketing game for some time.  

keyword map
[Source: Moz]
One of the best things about the Moz Blog is the abundance of visuals. It’s sometimes to difficult to include relevant images or graphics in your post about SEO, which is not necessarily a topic made for visuals. Moz does an excellent job of creating visuals out of their data to help readers take in information more easily, like the chart on the right detailing keyword usage on a website.

The Orbiter

The Orbiter is the web marketing blog of Orbit Media Studios, a web design and development company led by web expert Andy Crestodina. The Orbit team take turns writing posts, usually centered on their specialty topics. This is where to go when you want to know what the experts are thinking.

The blog’s voice is extremely easy to follow and makes the reader feel like an equal, which is important when it comes to the sometimes confusing and frustrating task of optimizing online content. Each post is broken down for easy-reading and, even when a post is long, does not leave the reader exhausted.

The blog’s topics are mostly focused on SEO, website optimization, and content creation, but there are also more general topics, like instructions for making a simple content mission statement. Not only does this blog want to help your business’ online presence, but the people behind it want to help your brand as a whole, which is comforting.   

Search Engine Land

If you are a part of a business that just needs to know what’s happening in the realm of SEO innovations, then Search Engine Land has to be number 1 on your list of sources. Be warned: this is not a blog to be visited by SEO beginners. If you have become comfortable with SEO jargon and carrying out web optimization tasks is a breeze, then you can give this blog a shot.

Search Engine Land blog home page
[Source: Search Engine Land home page screenshot]
By a simple scroll through Search Engine Land’s home page, it’s obvious that this blog cannot get enough of Google. Just look at the screenshot on the left of their current home page with four references to the big G without even having to scroll.

And why should they shy away from the number one search engine that essentially dictates all rules and regulations for SEO? Google’s algorithms, tools, and ranking systems are changing almost as quickly as a marketer can learn them, so why not stay updated?  

Search Engine Land posts about 4-5 times a day. This can seem a little daunting when you don’t have much time to skim through thousands of words for some practical information, but the deep content that this blog provides could be worth it. For marketers wanting to take their brand to the next level.

kissmetrics

infographic on e-commerce sites
[Source: kissmetrics’ infographic]
kissmetrics does not waste time on flashy layouts and witty blog voice. Instead, the writers behind this web marketing and tracking blog get right to business. It’s easy to tell that this blog is managed by experts in SEO analytics because of the varied and detail-oriented content.

Not only does kissmetrics offer helpful, step-by-step posts on measuring your SEO’s success, but there are also webinars, infographics, and marketing guides to skim through when you are looking for something more than words. Some of this content requires a subscription to kissmetrics, which will cost you. If you spend a few months with the kissmetrics blog and find it extremely useful for your business and marketing goals, then maybe throwing some money their way wouldn’t be the worst idea. In the meantime you can marvel at one of kissmetrics’ many thorough infographics. This one is all about making your ecommerce site trustworthy.

 

Hopefully these alternative SEO blog options didn’t make you completely jump ship on Searchable. We know we can’t cover everything, so we hope you can find something useful for your business’ SEO needs from other web marketing fanatics.     

Optimizing Your Twitter Presence

Last week we discussed the anatomy of a great tweet. It’s great info to learn, but going off of that guide when tweeting is like following a recipe card. Today, we’re going to talk about making that recipe your own. We’ll be going into detail on the ways you can tweet that are specific to your business and will make people want to engage with your content.

There are two ways you want to go about getting the most eyes on your page. The first thing has to do with the content you’re tweeting out, and the second is with search engine optimization (commonly abbreviated as SEO). Both of these things are pretty easy to do, it’s all about putting out great content.

Creating Quality Content

Okay, so this might be a little easier said than done, but as the saying goes “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. So you’re creating content for Twitter, you have to make sure that it’s quality in the sense that it looks/sounds good, but that it’s also on brand.

Written Content

Hopefully at this point you have a pretty firm handle on what your brand persona is. But if not, we’ve got you covered!  Here’s a fun chart to look at to help you figure yourself out. There’s a more comprehensive guide to the chart at Crackerjack Marketing, but ultimately what you’re trying to figure out is what your purpose is. What type of person are you trying to be? What is your tone, how do you want to sound when talking to customers? What kind of language are you using? And what is the purpose of your social media?

brand persona

An example for you might be: a playful-joking type of person whose tone is humorous. Your tweets are filled with technical terms, and you’re tweeting so that you can inform your customers while also being entertaining.

Visual Content

While Twitter is a microblogging platform, it is also important to post great visual content. According to a study done by BufferSocial, they found that tweets with images received 18% more click-throughs, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets.

twitter seo

And you don’t have to create special images just for Twitter. If you’re already posting on Instagram, feel free to cross-post the images back to your Twitter account.

visuals

Due to the amount of engagement that occurs when posting an image on Twitter, take advantage of it and pair your beautiful image with a strong Call to Action! If you’re running a special discount, or if you want people to check out your website, be sure to pair it with something pleasing to look at.

Upping the SEO

SEO sounds like one of those scary business acronyms, but it isn’t too difficult if you don’t want it to be. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and this ultimately means making your tweets and Twitter account extra easy for people to find when searching on Google (or their preferred search engine). Here are a few things you can tweak to maximize your SEO.

Bio and Profile Images

When creating your bio you want to make sure that you use keywords that are relevant to your business. In the example below, Door to Door Organics does a great job at being succinct in their description, and focuses on the organic and local aspects of their business. They also include a link to their website!

twitter bio seo

Both their profile image and header are great quality images that tie into the brand. And while posting quality images will get more people to see your content, you can also do more to optimize your images! The easiest way to do this is to include keywords that relate to the image, or your brand in the file name. AllBusiness suggests a few more ways to optimize your images if you want to get more in depth.

Hashtags

We talked briefly about hashtags last week, but they’re important, so we’ll touch on them again. Hashtags are tags that group your content with other content that has the same hashtag. This is beneficial in a couple different ways.

Hashtags can be used in general. For instance if you have a greenhouse and you’re posting about your new batch of succulents, you might want to write it as #succulents instead.

You can also create a hashtag that is specific to your business. This allows you to foster community with your followers. You can see what they’re tweeting about you, and it also allows customers join in on the conversation. In addition to that you can use hashtags for contests and games to boost engagement.

And if you’re wondering how many hashtags to include in your tweets, the sweet spot is one to two.

hashtag usage

But This is Just the Start

Yes, it is just the start for you Small Business Owner! Depending on how much time you want to spend on optimizing every single aspect of your Twitter, you can do it. But these tips are some simple solutions to help you get not only a lot of eyes on your tweets, but to get people engaged.

With that in mind, though, this isn’t a guarantee! You will have to try things out and see what really works for you and your business. The best way to do that is to look at your analytics, but that’s a whole other conversation for next week!

 

TOMS Takes SEO to a New Level

For all of those readers out there who have been skeptical about whether or not SEO can actually impact website traffic and business, look for confirmation no further. TOMS, aided by the work of Wpromote, a digital marketing strategy firm, optimized their website and ended up with a traffic increase of more than 1,000 percent.

TOMS’ goals

First of all, TOMS initial problems to solve must be understood. TOMS underwent a site migration as a part of its process to appeal to their global audience (when a website changes its URL to reflect going international, a name change, or rebranding). In TOMS’ case, their website needed to be suitable for international use, while still maintaining their impressive SEO rankings from their last website. TOMS had its work cut out for them.

Not only did TOMS hope to maintain their website traffic, but they wanted to see an increase in traffic after their move to an international URL. This put a lot of pressure on Wpromote, as site migrations are often risky processes that can actually result in lowered traffic, and in the worst cases, a drop in revenue.

Expert SEO gets the job done

TOMS’ site migration was carried out smoothly and efficiently for a number of reasons, all of which benefited the overall SEO of the TOMS website.

At the time of Wpromote’s work with TOMS website migration, the one-to-one company happened to be launching a national television commercial. This advertising fostered increased intrigue in the brand, and therefore, more website traffic. This shows the importance of timely SEO work. The launch of a marketing campaign aligned with the site migration, so that customers searching TOMS online would immediately arrive at TOMS new and improved, international website. It may just be coincidence that TOMS site revamp and new advertising happened simultaneously, but if it was, it was a lucky mistake that drove traffic.

Since the TOMS website was receiving increased traffic, URL mapping (a tactical part of site migration in which URLs from all pages on the old site are redirected to new URLs for the new site) had to be precise and optimized for keywords. URLs are taken into account in search rankings, so they should be keyword-rich. The creation of find-able URLs is one way in which TOMS’ migration went swimmingly.

In addition to the fairly technical site work, TOMS also implemented a trusty link building campaign, focused on persuading fashion bloggers who had similar target audiences to create inbound links to TOMS site. This link building was a part of TOMS “online reputation management.”   

The results are in

At the end of the day, TOMS defied all odds with their site migration. The result that the charity retailer was able to obtain are ideal for businesses large and small. All in all, TOMS not only maintained their organic search rankings from before the site migration, but they added value to these rankings by expanding their inbound links.

TOMS rose to the number one page ranking spot for their brand’s name and other unbranded keywords. Lastly, the company experienced an astounding 1,000 percent increase in daily unique visitors to their new, international site.

TOMS blog screenshot
[Source: TOMS “Stories” blog]
These shiny numbers did not make the TOMS web team take a vacation though. TOMS continued to carry out the SEO best practices that gave them their results in the first place. By reaching out to more and more influencers and having fans and employees write blog posts for their site, TOMS was able to keep their website fresh and relevant for Google’s rankings robots.  

Now, it is safe to say that TOMS’ success story is definitely not the norm. The numbers achieved at the end of all of this SEO work are not stats to which small businesses should compare their websites (mostly because smaller companies don’t have the time or money to hire Wpromote to do all of the technical work). But by practicing simple steps to optimize a site when changes are happening, such as link building, URL mapping, and keyword monitoring, websites can survive heavy renovations.

 

 

     

 

         

 

Searchable – About Us

Searchable is a blog based on simplifying search engine optimization. Whether you’re new to SEO in your position or while working on your startup, we are here to help you build your website and maximize your search potential.

Our team consists of Emily Beaupre, Chad Dorger, Mary Kesinger, Ana Plefka, and Becca Warren – all students of Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business.