It’s common SEO knowledge that there are more or less 12 various elements where a keyword can be placed on a web page, from your URL to body copy, to title tags, the list goes on. However, where to place your keywords and in what quantity in order for the page to perform best in search engines is the question on every SEO’s mind.So to find out once and for all how Google weights these various on page elements we setup a test...
We set up the test like this..
In order to find out the exact place to put the sites keywords, we created pages with the keyword in each area and then watched Google rank them from 1 to 10, therefore scientifically determining 10 on page factors from best to worst. The factors tested included URL placement, Meta title, meta description, Meta Keyword, Body at 2% density, H1, H2, H3, H4, as a bold word, as an italic word, image alt.
Here is what we discovered
Based on the test results, we ranked the on page factors from best to worst and combined them into 4 groups representing the importance of keyword presence.
Group A consists of Meta title, body content, URL and H1, as the tests confirmed that these are the top weighting on page elements for keyword placement. Meta title proved to be the undisputed highest weighted signal in on page SEO. Therefore, it’s critical that the meta titles are unique for each target page and contain the target keyword. A signal many people miss is keyword placement in the URL, if you are building a new page, make sure you get it in there. If its an existing page with Page Authority then don't go and change the URL, just think about it for next time.
The on-page factors that fall into group B include H2, H3, H4 and anchor text. A really important insight came from the Hl and H2 test pages. On those pages Google has ignored the meta title that was used and instead chosen to use what it felt more important to the particular search. We have known for some time that Google will sometimes ignore tagged meta descriptions and use what it wants but now we have the insight into the places that Google will look for the title to display in SERPs. First it will look to the meta title you have written, then it will look to the Hl and H2 signals. Therefore, if you really want a particular title to display in Google, put it in your H1 and something similar in your H2.
Bold, Italic and Image Alt fall into group C. The keyword in bold is ranking well and its position among the top 5 factors for traditionally secondary keyword is not uncommon. We would not suggest that you put much bold text on a target page as secondary factors jump up and move quite often. Interestingly, image alt ranked last as a weighted on page factor.
The last group is represented by schema, html tags, and open graph. Surprisingly, neither meta description nor meta keyword test pages indexed at all.
Knowing which keyword signals Google considers more and less important is empowering knowledge for SEOs. What’s even better is being told exactly which keyword signals to use where and in what frequency on your page. Page Optimizer Pro does exactly this. We invite you to give it a go and get 3 reports for free!
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