Mythbusting: Keyword Placement in the Title Tag

How do you write a great title tag? If you take a look at the full explanation of title tags from the MOZ SEO Learning center [2019 SEO], you will find that one of the recommendations for writing a good title tag is to put important keywords first. Based on MOZ’s testing and experience, the author suggests that keywords placed closer to the beginning of the title may positively affect ranking.

Since meta title tag is one of the major factors in helping search engines understand what a page is about, we decided to scientifically prove whether the position of the keyword affects rankings by placing the target keyword in various places in the meta title. You might be astonished by what we discovered, so make sure to stick around till the end of the blog post!

We set up the test like this..

 Myth: Putting the target keyword first in your meta title gives you an SEO advantage

The goal was to find whether the position of the keyword in the meta title gives an SEO edge. We set up three identical pages with the test keyword placed in the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the title tag. In order to ensure the consistency of the results, we repeated the test using an additional keyword. 

                                                                                           June 6th

                                                                                           June 15th

                                                                                           June 27th

Still no movement of the test page.

Here is what we discovered

After running two tests with different target keywords, we discovered that keywords in the middle/end of the title tag always beat keywords at the beginning. More specifically, the placement of the keyword at the end won in both tests.

Keyword 1


Rank #1: Keyword at the end

Rank #2: Keyword in the middle

Rank #3: Keyword at the beginning

Keyword 2


Rank #1: Keyword at the end

Rank #2: Keyword at the beginning

Rank #3: Keyword in the middle

Final Takeaway

The myth of positioning the keyword first in your meta title for an SEO edge is busted: there is no SEO benefit to a particular keyword placement in the title tag. It's also possible, though unlikely, that putting the keyword at the beginning might be a negative factor. 

The test results showed that the keyword placed at the end of the meta title ranked first. In our opinion, the main takeaway is that the position of the keyword in the title tag doesn’t really matter. However, it’s critically important to generally have your target keyword appear somewhere within the meta title tag.

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Can You Beat an H1 with multiple H2s?

It’s pretty obvious that an H1 tag is a stronger ranking signal than an H2 right? This was proven in one of our previous experiments, where we combined on page elements into 4 groups representing the importance of keyword presence. H1 tags, Meta title, body content and URL were confirmed to be the top weighting on page elements for keyword placement.

But what if your client decides not to use an H1 for design reasons? Is it possible to trade one ranking factor for another, or, in this case, outrank one H1 with several H2s? In other words, how many H2 sub headers do you need to surpass the “strength” of an H1? We ran several tests to find the answer and we can’t wait to share it with you!

We set up the test like this..


The goal was to find out whether it’s possible to trade multiple H2s for an H1. And, if so, to determine the sweet spot, or optimal number of H2s.

We set up five test pages and ran the experiment three times. For the test setup, we created two lines of lorem ipsum text, both containing the target keyword, - we would use those lines in H1, H2 and paragraph text. The page ranked #3 received two H2s with lorem ipsum text optimized for keywords. The pages ranked 1, 2, 4, and 5 each received an H1 and one extra line of paragraph text, all with the test keyword. Every new round of tests, we added one H2 with the target keyword to the page that originally ranked #3, adding the same line as a paragraph to the pages that originally ranked 1, 2, 4, 5. 


Hypothesis: A page with two optimized H2s will outrank a page with one optimized H1.

Immediately after keywords were removed from H1s and added to the H2s, the page dropped to the bottom. At this point, the main idea was to continue adding keyword optimized H2s until the page would rise to the top. 

Since we didn’t want to mess up keyword density or word count, instead of adding another H1, an extra line of paragraph text was added - this way, both keyword density and word count would remain the same.

Initial SERP, showing the page with two H2s:

WordPress dashboard of page with two H2s:

WordPress dashboard of pages with an H1:

May 31st

SERP shows that the page with two H2s dropped to rank #5:

                                                                                           June 1st

Added an optimized H2 to the test page:

Also added the same line as regular paragraph 

text to the rest of the pages:

                                                                                           June 6th

SERP result shows the test page remained at rank #5.

Another H2 was added to the test page:

The same line was added as regular text to

the other pages:

                                                                                           June 15th

The test page remained at the #5 rank.

...

After no movement, an additional line was added in 

the same pattern as before - 6 H2s:

H1 with 5 lines as regular text:

                                                                                           June 27th

Still no movement of the test page.

Here is what we discovered

As we continued adding H2s to the page, the test page would never rise. It actually ended up sticking to the number 5 spot through the end of the testing period. We got to the point where we reached 6 H2s with the test keyword on the page and it simply would not move up. 

At this point, there were so many H2s with the keyword as a strong ranking signal, that we ended up over-optimizing the page even before we could overtake the H1. After running this test three times, the results stayed the same - it was impossible to beat the H1 with H2s no matter how many were added to the page.

Final Takeaway

The goal of this experiment was to prove whether the economy of ranking signals works in real life and whether Google approves the trade-off in the first place. Based on the consistent results of three tests, we came to the conclusion that however many keyword optimized H2s added to the page, it’s not possible to outrank a page with the keyword in the H1. In a worst-case scenario, you can even end up over-optimizing your page. You can’t equal the value of a stronger signal with a certain number of a lesser signal.

This experiment showed that a page can be both under and over-optimized. Fortunately, with PageOptimizer Pro you know exactly which keyword signals to use and where exactly to put them.

Plans start at $10 only*

Mythbusting: LSI or Keywords?

When Google reads website content is it looking for target keyword placement, or is it looking for LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) terms that match the search intent? The prevailing idea from most SEO professionals is that Google is getting smarter and first looking for the latter - content on pages that matches search intent. We conducted an experiment to see what happens if you compare a single target keyword against a page with the target keyword and LSI keyword variations. The result of this experiment is a game changer!

Make sure to read the post till the end as we have an awesome announcement to share with you!

We set up the test like this..


Based on an observation that ranking pages are not overtly repeating the keyword multiple times in the body copy, we made an assumption that a page with LSI terms will outrank a page with higher keyword density.


Latent Semantic Indexing - words that would naturally come up in a conversation about particular topic. For example, if you are having a conversation about a kitchen, LSI would be: sink, refrigerator, pantry,..

Since Latent Semantic Indexing are words that would naturally come up in a conversation, we had to depart from our normal “Lorem Ipsum” Pages and use an actual term that would produce usable LSI. To do this, a keyword phrase was found that had only a few ranking pages but could produce LSI words.

The keyword chosen was for a local service in a remote area and, when searched in quotes, returned just 4 results. Besides, the articles were both published in Google Doc and made public. The only difference between the articles was that instead of repeating the keyword “house demolition”, the second article used the keyword one time, and then LSI terms in the rest of it. Meanwhile, LSI terms were determined by searching “house demolition” using the Keyword Planner and picking appropriate variations.

Here is what we discovered

After running the test, we discovered that the page that uses only the target keyword will beat a page that uses the keyword 1 time and LSI variations the rest of the time.

Final Takeaway

The last week's episode of SEO Fight Club released the studies behind LSI, which proved Latent Semantic Indexing to be a ranking factor. However, it does not undermine the importance of getting the target keyword on the page. You might have heard many SEO experts talk about getting away from using keywords and just use LSI because of Hummingbird or RankBrain. But you need to help Google understand what the page is about in the first place, and Google does that by looking at those on page optimization signals containing your target keyword.



To conclude, don’t put cart before the horse: optimize for keywords first and then LSI your pages. However, don’t get too excited while optimizing for keywords - putting as many of them as humanly possible (keyword stuffing) can lead a site to getting search penalty. Stressing the importance of good quality content, Google’s own Matt Cutts warned webmasters about keyword stuffing: “...all those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page...” 

Good news is that PageOptimizer Pro can tell you exactly which keyword signals to use where and in what frequency on your page. 

Announcement: New LSI Function in PageOptimizer Pro

We are excited to share with you that POP has now LSI built in to the tool!  In addition to providing LSI terms, POP also gives suggestions on which ones to use, where, and how many times.  

 

POP starts off with a wide set of possible terms and then runs through different filtering processes to get down to terms where LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing / NLP (Natural Language Processing) / TF-IDF (Term Frequency - Inverse Document Frequency) are in relative agreement.  The tool then calculates a “weight” or importance score - the number in the screenshot that is less than 1. The closer to 1, the more important the term. Lastly, the tool counts the number of times you have used the term and compares that to the average usage.


The goal is to show how many LSI words you are using right now versus how many times you might want to use them. Try if for yourself!


Is Schema Markup a Ranking Factor?

Most SEOs are already familiar with Google’s stance on schema. They are notoriously quiet on the subject. In January 2018, Roger Montti published a popular article in SearchEngineJournal, where he states that Schema Markup is currently not a ranking factor. To our knowledge, Google has not responded this statement. Schema Markup is supposed to help Google understand what a page is about and then categorise it. But is Schema Markup actually a ranking factor in Google’s algo?  We know the answer…

We set up the test like this..

Hypothesis

A page with schema markup outranks a page without schema markup

  • Number of test pages: 2
  • 400 word articles
  • 2% keyword density
  • Experiment page had product and offer schema at the top of body tag, the control page did not
  • Both published 9th May
  • Both submitted to Google at the same time

Here is what we discovered

After running two tests, only the variable/experiment page (the one with schema) was indexing. The pages without schema did not appear in results, even though they had been submitted to Google. Therefore, both tests confirm the hypothesis that a page with schema markup outranks a page without schema markup.

Final Takeaway

The bottom line - because Schema Markup is indeed a ranking factor - we absolutely recommend using it to your advantage. As an added bonus, Schema Markup is not a difficult thing to do. Insider tip: We use the JasonLD Schema Markup Generator - it is easy to use and does not require any coding skills. Now it’s time to take action!

Schema Markup Warning: 


  1. The structured data should be compatible with the content on the webpage. If the information on the webpage doesn’t match the schema, it’s likely that your website will be penalized by Google. The same relates to the information that is not visible to the readers of the page.
  2. Don’t use aggregate rating schema across all pages, otherwise Google will assume that all your pages have been rated equally. For example, adding your overall business score to the product pages would be found misleading, as products have their own review scores. We suggest keeping your overall score within organization schema on the home page only.
  1. In October 2016, Google updated their guidelines to state that you shouldn’t use third party reviews within your Local Business Schema. Therefore, we recommend that you play it safe and review Google’s guidelines and policies for structured data.
  2. Before publishing your Schema Markup, make sure to test it in the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Addressing the errors and warnings accordingly will definitely reduce the risk of having your website penalized.

Plans start at $10 only*

Mythbusting: Optimizing Meta Titles for Clicks

It’s common SEO knowledge that meta titles are a critical ranking element. In one of Rand’s Whiteboard Friday’s back in 2016, he argued that a meta title optimized for a click rather than keyword will have higher CTR and be therefore a stronger ranking signal than a well keyword optimized meta title.

Since we have already introduced the meta title as the number one signal for on-page optimization, we decided to conduct our own SEO experiment to bust or confirm this myth. Read on to find the answer!

As 98% of people don’t go to the second page in Google, the experiment is valid under one essential condition: there should be the high chance that anyone would click on test page, which means that the page should already be on page 1, otherwise CTR would be too low for this to be a valid experiment to undertake.


If you haven't watched Rand Fishkin's video about 8 SEO Practices that are no longer effective , or you just want to refresh it in mind before moving to the experiment and its astonishing results, this is your chance to do it:

We setup the test like this..

We set up two pages with exact meta titles Rand used in his example (to keep the same structure) with the only difference - the word “pipe” was substituted with a unique keyword. The searches that we were interested in replicating were the searches for “pipes” and “wooden pipes”.

  "A meta title that is optimized for a click will beat a meta title optimized for keywords"

   

  Rand's Hypothesis

Here is what we discovered


The meta title that was optimized for keywords won both the simulated searches of “pipes” and “wooden pipes”. 

Final Takeaway

The myth is BUSTED: meta title optimized for target keywords will beat meta title that isn’t. Recognizing the importance of both factors, we would argue that keyword optimisation in Title tag is a stronger ranking signal to CTR, so you really need to get your keyword in the meta title for ranking purposes first. Why? If you are not ranking well, you will never get the click.

For more information on top ten on page ranking factors from best to worst, read here

Use a tool such as PageOptimizer Pro to know how well your page is optimized for your keyword and which changes you can implement to improve your rankings.

*Plans starting at only $10 

The TOP 10 on page factors from top to bottom


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

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.

Group B

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. 

Group C

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.

Group D

The last group is represented by schema, html tags, and open graph. Surprisingly, neither meta description nor meta keyword test pages indexed at all.

Final takeaway

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!

*Get 3 free reports. No credit card required.

Did Kyle go too far? Interview by Charles Floate with Kyle Roof: Experimenting with Lorem Ipsum & reverse engineering Google’s algorithm.

When 2 controversial, cutting edge SEOs get together for a banter there's no telling what will come out. This interview by Charles Floate with Kyle Roof for Charles' brand new YouTube interview series will definitely not disappoint! 

What you will learn from the Charles Floate interview with Kyle

In this interview, Charles named Kyle "Possibly the first SEO Google has come after specifically for on page manipulation".  After watching the video, you will know the steps Kyle took to get #1 position for 'Rhinoplasty Plano' using Lorem Ipsum, how (not) to get Manual Penalties from Google, why the secret to ranking is hiding in plain sight, what are the resources Kyle uses for Web 2.0's and much more...

You can also find the links mentioned in the video below:

"Kyle may be the first SEO Google has come after specifically for on page manipulation."

Charles Floate

I wanted to also put a word out on Charle's SEO content. He's one of the indisputable masters of the game, he tests what he implements and he publishes a lot of top notch content that's really worth listening to if your an SEO with ambition.

You can follow him on the below channels;

And here's a really nice interview from Gael & Mark at Authority Hacker with Charles on his own On Page methods.


Try the tool that helped Kyle rank #1 with Lorem Ipsum text in the Rank or Go Home Challenge.

*Get 3 free reports. No credit card required.

How many words do you need on a page for SEO?


Of course there is no single, magic answer to this question, it depends. But the aim of this test was to find a definitive sweet spot of words on a page, a quantity that Google generally is rewarding more than any other, removing the factor of context, which of course in reality is impossible, all your web pages exist in the context of other pages on the web.


Regardless, this is still an interesting experiment to conduct. Over 3 months we ran tests with between 100 and 4,000 words. In this blog post you will finally find out how many words Google is generally rewarding, which we think is a handy factoid for your SEO tool belt.

We set up the test like this..

In order to find the optimal number of words on a page, we built numerous test pages with the counts separated out: 100-200, 200-300, etc. After running several tests with  between 100 and 4000 words, we formulated the hypothesis that a page containing 1300 words was the approximate optimal word count. The final test was run using a range of 1100-1450. We were hoping to narrow the range further, perhaps even confirm somewhere between 1100-1300 words as the number, however, the results were not consistent enough to say that we’d found the perfect number of words.

Here is what we discovered

The results indicate that Google is more concerned in the macro or in a particular range, rather than nailing down a single number. However, we can learn from these tests that somewhere between 1100 and 1600 appears to be the sweet spot as a rule of thumb. We would still shoot for around 1300.

Final takeaway

As a final word on this, your SEO pages don’t exist in a vacuum, each keyword lives in its own unique competitive environment. Use a tool such as Page Optimizer to gain insights into the specific word count that is being rewarded for that specific keyword and competitive environment.

*Get 3 free reports. No credit card required.

Best Practices From The Pop To The Top Awards Winner: Dominating With Lorem Ipsum Text

best practices from the POP To the top awards Winner: dominating with Lorem ipsum text


One month ago we launched our very first POP To The Top Awards - a competition to find the current #1 user of PageOptimizer, someone who has achieved outstanding results just through following the tool’s recommendations.

Not only did POP users get a chance to share their proud wins with others, but they could also win a whole hamper of POP prizes!

Today we are happy to share the fascinating story of the winner - Sherman Hu!

Meet Sherman - the winner of POP To The Top Awards

Sherman is not just a Web Marketing Strategist with over 15 years of experience. He coached thousands of business owners about web marketing and WordPress through his video tutorials and workshops, created web marketing curriculum for an Atlanta-based eCommerce-marketing training university and even produced and hosted (!) a weekly web TV show.

His agency https://shermanlive.com/ focuses on something that each business wants to have optimised: SEO & GMB (Google My Business) Maps Marketing.

The POP Story

"On Oct 14, 2018, I published an internal landing page quickly as I had other projects that needed my attention. I remembered Kyle had won an SEO contest using Lorem Ipsum for body text (Read Here to know the real reason Kyle Roof's site got to #1 in Google for Rhinoplasty Plano), and in light of time sensitivity, and  a  curiosity if it'd work for me, I output the exact word count POP suggested in the form of Lorem Ipsum text".

The steps that Sherman took were the following:

  1. Added KW (CITY Google 360 Photographer) in Page Title, Permanlink/Slug, and H1
  2. Targeted Word Count = 864 words (using Lorem Ipsum latin text, coming in at 845 words)

He published the page, fetched it via Google, linked image to it from the home page and forgot about it. Ten days later, Sherman got a call from a competitor with an offer to team up. Why?...

Sherman found himself at the top of Maps and Local Search across 6 KW variations (one of them with Lorem Ipsum text)!

Note: Google has begun de-indexing Lorem Ipsum pages and handing out Manual Penalties to webmasters with the status “Pure Spam”, this may be the end of the golden days of Lorem Ipsum.

Thank you, everyone, for proving once again that using PageOptimizer can be easy and fun! And If you haven't won anything - no worries! There are more exciting opportunities to come very soon.

*Get 3 free reports. No credit card required.

THE VERY FIRST “POP TO THE TOP” AWARDS, STARTING SOON..

THE VERY FIRST "POP TO THE TOP" AWARDS, STARTING SOON..

Being SEOs ourselves we know all too well SEOs don’t like missing an opportunity to share our proud wins with whoever will listen. So here is your big chance!

Over the coming weeks we’re running the very first (of hopefully many to come) POP To The Top Awards.

What is it?

It’s a competition to find the current #1 user of Page Optimizer, someone who has achieved outstanding results just through following the tool’s recommendations.

When is it?

Entries open Monday 15th October and close Sunday 4th November, 2018

How to enter?

To enter just follow these steps:

  1. Enter through the Page Optimizer Facebook Page. The Enter Here button will take you to the post.
  2. Post your entry to the comments section of the post.
  3. Don't forget to like our page.

Your comment post entry must include:

  • Screenshot showing position improvements in Search Console over time (mark when Page Optimizer was used). You are welcome to remove any reference to the website/domain but we need to see the keyword
  • Screenshot showing your optimization summary in POP
  • List a couple of things you did to your page from the recommendations

Here's an example of what we need

Screenshot from Page Optimizer.

Screenshot from Search Console showing position improvement.

What will you win?

You will win a whole hamper of POP prizes:

  1. The exclusive POP to the top award and badge for your site / email signature
  2. A listing on our POP To The Top winners page (with a link back to your site)
  3. A 2 month subscription or 60 credits for Page Optimizer
  4. We’ll share your POP story on our social media channels and promote you as a POP Pro

If you are not the first but your results are still awesome, don’t worry, we also have 5 runners up prizes who will get a special mention and 1 month/30 credits for using Page Optimizer!

The winner will be announced in week following the competition.

We are super excited to share your wins with others so get posting!