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Last week, I received a phone call from a reporter for the Harrisburg Pennsylvania newspaper, The Patriot-News. He was looking for an “expert” on  using online petitions to impact change on big business and he wanted to interview me. My first thought was how did he find me and my second thought was that I had just published my blog post “What Impact does Social Media Have on Businesses?” Hmmmm…. I must have optimized that post well.

For starters, Dan Miller (a reporter from the Patriot-News ) was writing an article about Kim Binaso-Stwalley from Dillsburg PA. Kim had launched an online petition on change.org in hopes of convincing SouthWest Airlines that they should not discontinue daily nonstop flights from Harrisburg International Airport to Orlando FL. He wanted to include different perspectives as to whether or not Kim could successfully implement change through social media.

Dan had searched online for someone who wrote about social media and he had  come across my article. In my post, I had used Netflix, Bank of America and United Airlines as examples where online petitions have helped fuel movements to impact change on big business. What was interesting to me was how did he find me. What keywords had positioned my post high enough in the search results that he wanted to interview and quote me for his article. Let’s take a look at how I optimized that post for the search engines.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Knowing Your Keywords,

The keywords that I optimized my article with included:

    • Social Media
    • Online Petition
    • Customer Service
    • Business
    • Viral Video
    • Change.org
    • Netflix, Bank of America, United Airlines

Where Did I Use the Keywords?

#1 – Keywords in theURL of my Blog Post

If you looked at the URL address of my article, you would see:

Example of Keywords used in the Title of your Blog
Keywords Used in Title of Your Blog Post Show in the URL using Permalink Settings

In my “permalink” settings in WordPress, I have “Post name” selected. (Prior to WordPress 3.3, this was set using custom structure and entering “/%postname%/.) My title, including some of my featured keywords, are part of the URL and one of the first things that the search engines are going to find.

#2 – Keywords in My Images

Images are not “seen” by the search engines. So, it is especially important to take advantage of the data fields that are available to you in WordPress. In the screen capture below, you can see that I have incorporated keywords into the title, alternate text, and description. If I used captions for my post images, I would have included them there too.

Optimize your Images to Include Keywords in the Meta Tags

#3 – Keywords in the Title of my Post and Headings

Heading tags are used to give special significance to words. They’re usually formatted to be bold and in a larger size font. In most WordPress themes, the title of your post is formatted as a “Heading 1”. You also have heading tags 2 through 6 available to use.

Incorporate Keywords in the Title of Your Blog Posts

Each subsequent heading tag has less importance. Search engines recognize the importance given to headings. (For more information, please read 4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress Blog”.)

Use Heading Tags to Highlight Text |
Keywords Used in Text that is Formatted as Headings Impact SEO

#4 – Categories, Tags, Custom Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords

To help optimize your blog/website, I recommend using a theme that has SEO built in or use a plugin such as WordPress SEO by Yoast or the All in One SEO Pack. These plugins will simplify entering meta tags and descriptions.

You should also be incorporating keywords into your content. Of course, you need to do this judiciously while at the same time writing good content that will resonate with your readers. It’s a careful balance between optimizing your website for SEO, while not abusing keywords. Practices such as “keyword stuffing” can result in being penalized by the search engines.

So, what do you think? Have you ever been pleasantly surprised to find your content linked to unexpectedly? How do you go about incorporating SEO while staying on point and adding value? Can you think of other opportunities to incorporate keywords like in the “Read More” text?  We can all learn from each other and I’d love to hear from you.

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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  1. Pingback: Favorite Blog Posts 2012 - Websites for Small Biz
  2. Thanks for these tips. I’ve been finding people discovering my blog unexpectedly since using WordPress SEO by Yoast so I can recommend this too. I’m a bit unsure though of where the line is between adding keywords to the content and keyword stuffing.

    1. Hi Stephen,
      I think a good general rule to avoid keyword stuffing is to write naturally as if you’re having a normal conversation with your reader. You wouldn’t repeatedly use the same words over and over again when you’re speaking. If I find that I’m using the same keyword repeatedly, I’ll take the time to do a little keyword research to see what shows up. If I’m in a time crunch, I’ll turn to the thesaurus in my word processor to seek alternatives.

      To keep track of my use of keywords in my meta descriptions, I find it helpful to keep a document for all of my blog posts. I have columns for the title, description, category, tags, keywords and the images that I insert and I record the info that I’ve used. It’s easy to use the word count tool (to make sure that I’m not exceeding the number of recommended characters) and it’s also helpful when I’m submitting my post to directories and such. I can also tell at a glance if I’m guilty of keyword stuffing in those fields.

  3. Thanks for the great seo tips. I recently posted on the importance of All in One Seo pack for capturing all the metadata. I also like to use Inbound Writer which tells you the correct percentage of keywords to add and also the correct focus terms for your article or post. H1 tags and image tags also add a lot of value. Well rounded post.

    1. Hi Gazalla,
      Thanks for the endorsement of the All in One Seo pack. That’s a good plugin that I used to recommend. Since discovering WordPress SEO by Yoast, I recommend that one instead. Both are good though.

      Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this.

  4. Thanks Sherryl, I spend a lot of time with our blog and your advice is a big help. Your section on the tags to add to an image are a big help. I was used to the alt tag for image elements, but was a little confused by all the options that wordpress allows for images. This entire article will allow me to build a better blog, thanks again.

    1. You’re welcome Ross. I’m glad you found my post valuable. I should have mentioned using keywords in the file-name for your pics and graphics too. (That’s another opportunity to optimize for the search engines.) In the screenshot that I included above, you’ll see that the file name of my pic is “social-media-impact.jpg”. Some people upload photos with names that are assigned by their camera (like DSC0199). I always make a copy of my images, resize them, compress them and then save them with a keyword rich title before I upload them to the server.

  5. Congratulations for this rare opportunity! The newspaper reporter found your blog because it is really interesting and worthwhile to read.

    1. Thank you so much, Sherryl.
      I take the whole story as nothing more or less than a graceful metaphor to illustrate the most significant concepts of SEO to your readers. I’m happy to find out that, being a student of SEO, I’m really at the right place. Thanks again.
      Keep smiling like you do! 🙂

      1. Hi Raheel,
        I appreciate the compliment. I find SEO fascinating while at the same time, I don’t obsess over it. I try to write content that my blog readers will enjoy and hopefully benefit from. I think Google is finally starting to reward content that is shared and commented on.

        Thanks so much for joining the conversation. I appreciate the fact that so many people take the time to leave a comment.

  6. Yes it happens sometimes but in our case it usually is a small town or rural area. Never have had a similar size town call.

  7. Thanks for your support (and dropping by) Ileane. It is encouraging that Google is really valuing content now. My first reaction was that I had optimized my article well but I need to give my self more credit for providing quality content. 🙂

    (Ileane writes great content too. Anyone who is reading this and doesn’t recognize Ileane, can check out her blog at http://BasicBlogTips.com.)

  8. Excellent work Sherryl! I really like how you have explained post optimization step-by-step for everyone. It takes a lot to rank well for the keywords you used and it just goes to show that Google will reward those who add value and great content. Here’s to more interviews for you!

  9. Sherryl –

    That’s great. It’s nice to optimize for a word and have it really work. What keywords did the reporter use for them to find your site?

    Netflix, Bank of America and United Airlines, online petitions

    or a combination of those?

    Thanks

    sean

  10. wow, that is impressive. Useful information of the placement and usage of keywords. Do you have any advise on the keyword density? Can one do more harm than good by over using certain keywords?

    1. There is a formula out there and I could Google on it but my general take is to not abuse the use of keywords. My rule of thumb is to keep it conversational and natural sounding. For placement, you get the biggest clout in the title, blog category, tags, keywords, URL and the alt tags in your pictures. To a lesser degree, it’s important to use them in your meta-descriptions. When you’re writing your text, try to use your keywords in your first sentence or two. Keywords as the anchor text of a link is helpful also. (Sounds like there’s lots of opportunities. Just don’t over-do it. I usually optimize one post for three or four keyword phrases as long as they relate to the content.)

  11. Keywords, keywords, keywords haha, I can never find time to implement my list into my blog even though I’ve done enough research on which ones to use.

    1. Chris, have you tried jotting down keywords that relate to your article as you’re writing it? It’s extremely difficult to get found when someone is searching for what you’re blogging about if you don’t have the keywords that they’re looking for in your posts.

  12. Congrats, Sherryl! I hope it can be a promising business opportunity for the future, as well. Now I know there is good background to your advices regarding SEO, as you seem to have mastered this issue. I still wasn’t of such luck as you were, but if I take time to pay more attention to the keywords I am using, I might get some positive news, too.
    Keep your fingers crossed for me!;)

    1. Thanks Eleanora. I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered SEO but I am proof that incorporating some simple steps definitely helps. When I first started blogging, I did not use headings at all. I really noticed a difference in my organic traffic from Google after I started incorporating that one idea. (Fingers crossed for you! 🙂 )

  13. Hi Sherryl,

    that’s awesome, so happy for you!!! I like your suggestions and advice, so it doesn’t really surprise me 🙂 🙂

    xx
    Franziska San Pedro
    Flavor Designs

  14. Hi Sherryl, thank you for the insightful article! I have one question to you. You said that you write the keywords in the permalink. I just want to know, is there any limit of words in the URL address? Is the number of words impact on the search engines? Should we write only the main words without prepositions and conjunctions or it’s okay to write the full title with all parts of speech?
    And of course, congratulations on your interview! 🙂

    1. Emily, I don’t actually write my keywords in the permalink. I incorporate my keywords in my post title and then my permalinks are set to use my post title in the URL.

      This post isn’t my best example of incorporating keywords in my title but I did use “SEO” and “newspaper reporter”. Any how, if you scroll to the top of the screen, you’ll see that the title of this post is included in the URL.

      TIP: If you include special characters in your title (like a question mark, ampersand or apostrophe), make sure you copy and paste your title into the “Custom Title” field and delete those characters. Otherwise, the search engines will display something funky like %20% in place of it.

  15. Hi Sherryl,

    Congrats on your success! This is a great example of how good SEO can help your blog or business by doing some really simple things. I will take your advices in serious consideration!Keep up the good work you are doing!

  16. Great tips, Sherryl. Thanks so sharing your “secrets!” I do some of these things already, but didn’t know about the SEO plugins to optimize metatags – I will investigate that for sure. And congrats on the interview!

    1. Thanks Imogen. I’m glad you were able to pick up a tip from my article. Either of those plugins should make it easy for you to enter the info. A tip that I left in a comment on another post is that I track these fields in a master document of all my posts. I’ve created a Word document in a table format with a column for each of the pieces of information (title, description, category, tags, keywords and then a column for the pictures with the title, description and alt-text). This keeps me from forgetting to fill in a piece of info plus at a glance, I can ensure that I’m not stuffing keywords.

      1. Thanks, Sherryl. I obviously could get a bit more organized. Sounds like a great idea for keeping tabs on each piece of keyword equations.

  17. I’m so happy for you Sherryl — nothing better than being sought out as “the expert”. And another perfect post for me to share with a client. I swear, you are a little fly on my wall! I’m talking keywords, tags & descriptions and voila, there’s a Sherryl post about that very subject!

    Thank you for listening 🙂

  18. Hi Sherryl,

    Congrats on getting some offline publicity which certainly adds a thumbs up for your consistent SEO practices. (Sometimes the offline world doesn’t see our online world as legit until we’re mentioned in print!)

    I don’t see the link to the newspaper article. Could you highlight it for us? Um, did you grab a copy of the print version (for posterity’s sake, of course!)?

    1. Vernessa, Thanks for the congrats. You bring up a great point about the offline world not recognizing us until we make it in print! It does bring some sort of credibility I suppose. The reason I didn’t link to the article is because the reporter didn’t really quote me very much even though the interview did last about a half hour on the phone. I was actually teaching him Social Media 101 – which could lay the foundation for a future article as Catarina suggested. Also, I didn’t want to “toot” my own horn. I wrote about this mainly as an opportunity to highlight some SEO tips. The article is here http://bit.ly/ymTBMG if you want to read it.

      1. No worries about tooting your own horn. I was curious and imagine others would like to read your quote (no matter how few words) because you are our own. 🙂

        You know, until I started a “blog” I never encountered so much flak about self-promotion. With brick-and-mortar and any type of offline business, marketing is the key to survival. Mitch (I’m Just Sharing) recently wrote a thoughtful article about how much (self) promotion is too much, with respect to social media. Interesting debate going on about it.

        Talk to you soon, Sherryl.

        1. Whoa, a Mitch mention; thanks Vernessa!

          As to the rest of the post, since I might as well comment on it, I think it’s great optimization that got you found, and it’s what we always tell people about customizing their permalink structure so they have a chance of having someone looking for exactly what they’re talking about. How are you handling the fame Sherry? 🙂

          Meanwhile, CommentLuv hates me tonight so I guess I’m glad to get Vernessa love. lol

          1. Thanks for paying me a visit Mitch! Fame? 🙂 I’m still blushing – (just kidding). I’m a little overwhelmed by the support. I honestly had myself convinced that I was found due completely to SEO but as I’ve been reminded here, it’s also about my content and finding my voice. If I had babbled on or my site was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, that reporter would never had reached out to me.

            I’m sorry CommentLuv hates you tonight. I would have gladly visited your site from your link. I officially owe you at least one visit to your blog and I promise to do that soon. Right now, I’m finishing up a freelance assignment that I got when someone found me on LinkedIn. Gee…. I hope I don’t let this all go to my head! 🙂

  19. That is something that doesn’t happen everyday. Even if they didn’t include a clickable link at least they found you and mentioned your site. I know I would be happy if my local paper or media mentioned me.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Francisco. You’re so right about the content being quality. That’s critical. My post couldn’t possibly have been the only one that turned up in Dan’s search. It had to have been the way I wrote my article and communicated my thoughts that convinced him that I was an “expert” on the subject. That’s a great reminder for everyone reading this thread and it’s also a great idea for another article. 🙂

  20. Great story! And thanks for useful SEO tips. Proper keywords is the most important aspect of your content. Personally i use keywords tools in order to ease the process. And be sure not to overuse keywords as search engines dont like it pretty much

  21. Optimizing a page is indeed important. Congratulations by the way! That’s how great SEO is. When correctly implemented SEO can do wonders to one’s website. I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about how their SEO implementations go haywire. There is noting wrong with SEO itself but when improperly carried out, it wont give off good benefits.

    Great Article!
    Regards,
    Spatch Merlin

    1. Thanks. SEO can be overwhelming and we do need to be careful if we’re trying to do it ourselves. I think “keyword stuffing” is a huge risk and I would caution everyone to be careful. On the other hand, if I’m on someone’s website and I mouse over images that are all titled the default name that their camera assigned, I can’t help but cringe a little. That just shouts out lost-opportunity to me.

  22. Congrats, Sherryl! This is a story of tech savvyness (sp?) and the value you bring and proof that SEO works. It’s hard to attain for some, but your tips are appreciated. You’re really making me consider moving over to wordpress. 🙂

  23. I’m not surprised that your post was found! Besides being technically savvy, I believe that you were rewarded for providing true value which in turn stems from your authenticity.

    Appreciate the SEO tips you’ve included in this post. I’ve changed my permalink option and understand header tags better than before!

    1. Awesome Keyuri. I didn’t use heading tags when I first started blogging. Not only do they help with SEO, they can be used to capture your reader’s attention and emphasize key points.

      As always, thanks for your encouragement. I count you as one of my true online friends.

  24. Hi Sherryl,
    I am happy to hear that. As I always says you have great blog with great posts. You really deserve that its because of your hardwork and dedication to your blog.

  25. More than you optimizing your post, I am excited for you that you got an awesome mention in the newspaper. SEO is having a big impact on your blog, and that is what they call getting found online. Your online presence is taken to the real world and business is going to start flowing in and your gonna be rich. 🙂 Congrats on your efforts and wish you all the success.

    1. Thanks so much Eddie. Having the support of other bloggers is a huge help too. Thanks so much for taking the time to come by and leave a comment. I’m anxious to read your post on your Google challenge.

  26. Sherryl — congratulations on your interview! Excellent tips and images of how to incorporate key words to optimize your blogs for search engines (and we’re really talking about Google, right?!). About two weeks ago I was contacted by an entrepreneur in California who found me through search. I haven’t heard back from him — think it was a budget issue — but next time it could be someone with money. I am also speaking next month on a webinar. The conference organizers found me by searching key words on LinkedIn. So, I’m encouraged. It would be nice to have more people knocking at my internet door.

    1. Thanks for sharing Jeannette! That’s wonderful that you’re getting these opportunities. People are finding me on the web as well. I think it’s encouraging to others to hear that real people are being found and you don’t have to be a big business to rank well. It comes down to hard work. Implementing strategies for SEO and social media really helps.

  27. Good story and great example of how we can gain authority and influence through our blogs. Awesome SEO tips. The one thing that i have been focused on lately is optimizing my images and I have seen a good bump in traffic due to people searching and finding my blog through Google.

    1. Thanks Dan for letting us know how optimizing your images has helped you. Even renaming your pictures with meaningful titles is a big start to optimizing your site. I built a website for an asphalt paving company. Their site had been built by AT&T. There had been absolutely no optimization done for them. All of their pictures were uploaded with the names that the camera had assigned such as DSC0001. Renaming them with keywords such as asphalt-driveway was one of the very first steps that we took.

  28. Congrats Sherryl

    Always nice to be found and recognized. It just goes to show that a little SEO can go a long way, and your tips here will help many others get noticed too.

    I always find trying to get my primary keywords close to the beginning of titles, and description provide better SEO for my content, getting a link in early in the piece seems to be beneficial too.

    1. Great tip Jackie! Thanks so much for pointing out the importance of using keywords early in our titles, descriptions and content. The tip on having a link early on is great too. There are still a lot of bloggers who don’t link to their other own content at all and it really does help.

      I have to go read your post on poor navigation. That topic on my list for the future. Navigation is such a key part of a website and often people leave it for last.

  29. That’s great news Sherryl. I am so pleased for you.
    I have had a nice start to the week myself. After moaning about a Dmoz editor leaving a pretty insulting comment on my blog. You may remember I outed him in a post when I tied up the comment to the editor in my stats.
    Well, not only did I get listed in Dmoz this week but I finally hit the front page of Google for my main keyword (only number 9 but it’s a big step forward). It took five month mind but then I am up against other SEO and web design companies with long established sites, so I shouldn’t complain.
    Anyway, less about me. Congratulations on your great news. You must be feeling very proud and quite rightly so.

    1. Steve, As someone who tried for years to have websites listed with Dmoz, I commend you on achieving that. A couple of years ago, I decided that it wasn’t worth my effort and I haven’t submitted a site to them since. I had also been convinced that inclusion in their directory did not have the impact that it once did. (You may have me rethinking this). Your site is in a highly competitive field and to rank on the first page in any position is huge. Congratulations to you!

      1. Just to shed a little light on the Dmoz thingy.
        You’re dead right, the Dmoz links don’t hold the value that they did. They are still deemed as a trusted source. The big benefit of a listing is that many other directories scrape Dmoz’s content. That results in a lot of backlinks. Having said that, most directory links are pretty low value now days but a link is a link. If it’s one you don’t have to work for, all the better.

        1. Thanks Steve. There’s no excuse for my not trying other than I was so discouraged before. I’ll add submitting my blog to Dmoz to my rather long to-do list. I’ve been meaning to submit my site to JoeAnt.com too. I was an editor for them at one time. I wonder if my logon would still work.

  30. Yay for you, Sherryl! I’ve been contacted for photos on my photo blog (I suppose I do a good job of optimizing those posts as well), but being contacted for being an “expert” on a topic like online petitions effect on business sounds much more interesting.

    Life is like that – lots of hard work (as in all the posts one writes, optimizing, agonizing over, rewrites…) and a little bit of luck.

    1. Thanks Leora. Your photography is gorgeous and not only do you optimize it well for the search engines, your site loads quickly too. (As anyone can see if they click on your link and read your post on Pinterest and small businesses – a great article that I’ve shared.)

      My article that the reporter found was the one and only post on my blog that mentions online petitions. I was honestly amazed that he found me based on that one post. So, I looked at it as a way to share how I optimize my posts. 🙂

  31. Sherryl, wait a while and then come up with something unusual, preferably connected to your company that he could cover. How you succeeded with helping your customer incrase online visibility with 500% or something like that:-)

  32. I am so happy for you! Do put up copies of what is published and highlight your pretty quotes in it!

    I did have a tough time learning SEO’s and thanks to Brankica, she actually explained things to me. Though it takes some amount of work to get your blog recognized and flashing all over; we could do our bit by trying out best! 🙂

    Thanks for the tutorial; definitely helpful! 🙂

    1. Thanks Hajra. The article itself only includes one quote from me. It represents an opportunity for me and I actually was surprised that this reporter found my article among all the articles out there. It all comes down SEO. The thing is that once we make this habit, it becomes second nature. The amount of traffic that I now get through Google continues to grow. It’s good to hear that loved learned a lot from Brankica and that you’re continuing to learn.

  33. Fantastic news Sherryl!! Am delighted for you!! There’s no better publicity. Do send me a copies of what he publishes with quotes from you.

    Now call him up now and again with ideas for an article. It works, I know from experience!!

    1. Thanks Catarina. I don’t have hard copies but there is an online version. He only quoted me once. They did include the URL for my blog but unfortunately, they did not include the hyperlink. He had agreed to link to my website but I think an editor may have intervened.

      That’s a wonderful idea to suggest another article. I was also thinking of possibly contacting Kim and interviewing her. There may be ways to help her use social media to promote her petition. On the other hand, I’m not sure that she can be successful. I’m not convinced that enough people are inconvenienced by the disruption in service to support her.