There are many different elements that go into a webpage and search engines look for clues in the source code that indicate what information is being presented and what keywords it is relevant to. While this is definitely a bit technical for most writers and editors, it is critically important that every writer and editor is aware of these SEO elements and creates content that will utilize them appropriately.

Heading Tags: It is very important to incorporate a proper heading tag structure for the content of the page. Think of heading tags as section headings for content. After creating the keyword assignment for a page, but prior to actually writing the content, you should create an outline structure for the page wherein each keyword assigned to the page is used in a section heading. These section headings will be market up with heading tags and the task of the content writer will be to create content paragraphs to support the heading tags. There are six heading tags, H1-H6 and they essentially specify order of importance for subject matter on the page. Also, heading tags typically cause the text that is associated with them to be bigger and bolder than the rest of the text on the page, with H1 tags being the biggest, and then getting smaller with each successive tag.

H1: This is the primary heading tag and it basically sets the tone for the content on the page. It basically tells the search engines, “this is what this page is about”. Usually the title of the page is automatically turned into the H1 for that page. However, if the H1 is not automatically implemented as the title it can also be implemented as the breadcrumb for that page. If this is not happening automatically with either of these elements, then you must make sure that you get the primary keyword for the page into an H1 tag at or near the top of the page. You must only use the H1 tag once on the page.

Code Sample:

<h1>This text will be styled according to your CSS for the h1 tag</h1>

This text will be styled according to your CSS for the h1 tag

H2: Unlike the H1 tag that should be used only once per page, you can use as many H2 tags as you see fit. However, the H2 tags should really just be used with the section headings that incorporate the supporting keywords from the keyword assignment. It is perfectly acceptable to use the keywords as part of a larger phrase within the heading tags. For instance. If the keyword is “employee tracking” an acceptable H2 could be “The Importance Of Employee Tracking”

Code Sample:

<h2>This text will be styled according to your CSS for the h2 tag</h2>

This text will be styled according to your CSS for the h2 tag

H3-H6: These tags are not vital page elements, however they should be used for bullet point lists, or with quotes, or with a references section near the bottom of the page. These elements are good places to use keywords that are related to the keywords that the page is focusing on.

Code Sample:

<h3>This text will be styled according to your CSS for the h3 tag</h3>

This text will be styled according to your CSS for the h3

Bold, Italic and underlined Text, block quotes, etc: Search engines can easily identify any text markup that you would use to make certain text stand out on the page. Because the appearance of that text is being changed to draw the attention of the user the search engines look at those elements as indicators of important subject matter that is being explored on that page. Therefore it is important to use the keywords that you are optimizing the page for along with those elements. Bold, Italic and Block Quotes are 3 great content mark-up options that should be used in one way or another to support your chosen keywords on every page that you create.

Code Sample:

<strong>Text here will be bold</strong>

Text here will be bold

<i>Text here will be italic</i>

Text here will be italic

<u>Text here will be underlined</u>

Text here will be underlined

Text Links: Writers should look for opportunities within written content to link to other pages within the site utilizing anchor text that is an exact match for the keywords assigned to the link target page. All links should include a Title tag that is also an exact match for the same keyword as the anchor text (one of the keywords assigned to the link target page).

Code Sample:

<a hre="" title="Target Keyword">Anchor Text</a>

Images: Images should always be renamed to match the most important keyword for the page where they will appear, with subsequent images being named using supporting keywords. Also, images should always include an Alt tag. The Alt tag for an image should start with the same keyword and include a very short image description. Additional information such as the image description, author and date published may be included if the page is utilizing those fields for Markup. Images should be added to an image sitemap to ensure they are properly indexed by search engines.

Videos: Videos should also be named to match the main keyword for the page where they appear, with subsequent videos being named using supporting keywords. Videos should also be utilizing markup (covered in the lesson Markup) to include the description, duration, thumbnail, embed URL and size of the video. Videos should be added to an image sitemap to ensure they are properly indexed by search engines.

Over the past few years a lot of new types of content mark-up has been introduced to structure data in a way that helps search engines understand, categorize and display content in a myriad of new ways.

The technical side of this structured data is discussed at length in the course “Technical Optimization – Step-by-Step, Page Specific and Sitewide Optimization Techniques.” Of course that level of knowledge about technical implementation isn’t necessary for most writers. But, it is very important that a writer understands what type of mark up exists within the page templates so that they can create content that caters to those elements.

While there are many different types of structured data markup, has become the most widely used and is the closest to an official standard that currently exists. Popular types of content that utilize markup are:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Events
  • Locations
  • People
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • Ratings
  • And many more…

Once the proper mark-up has been incorporated into the content fields within a CMS, typically content creators simply need to fill out the proper fields with information such as the name, title, author, location, date published, and description.

The benefits of this type of content mark-up are that it allows Google’s knowledge graph and other technologies like it, to add your content to their next gen databases. Once they have that information they will begin to display it in search results whenever appropriate as “Rich Snippets”. Rich snippet allow search results to feature information that goes way beyond the classic SERP listing the title, URL and description. Rich snippets allow your search results to include images, ratings and additional features that entice users to click on your listing. This separates you in the search results and can have a huge impact on your click through rate.

Make Sure To Use These Content Mark-Up Elements

To Optimize Your Target Keywords!

Next In the next lesson we will discuss a more sophisticated set of mark-up called “Structured Data”. Structured Data is what Google’s Knowledge Graph uses to categorize content, so if you want to truly optimize for Google, you have to understand how to incorporate