Important SEO Best Practices You Should Know
By Carly Bauer, Marketing Coordinator at Heinz Marketing
For any company that has a digital presence and wants to be successful in the digital space, they have probably taken advantage of search engine optimization. The benefits of SEO for businesses are practically endless and taking advantage of them can improve your brand’s success in the marketplace. Building your SEO is complex and can be time-consuming. Some areas show instant results while other results take time to build. But overall it’s something every business should invest time and energy into. Here are some best practices to put to use to help improve and keep your SEO up-to-date in the ongoing optimization process.
Add Your Main Keyword Early On In Your Content
It’s important to use your keyword a handful of times on your page but the location of your keyword makes a huge difference. Make sure to mention your main keyword at least once at the top of your page, ideally in the first paragraph. Why does this matter? Google puts more emphasis on terms that appear at the top of the webpage. For readers, they are looking for relevancy in your content based on the keywords used. If a reader doesn’t find the relevancy of their keywords within the first few sentences or paragraph they will more than likely leave your website without reading further. Adding your main keywords early on in your content will help with retaining web page visitors and having more viewers read past the first few sentences of your page.
Write Unique Titles, Descriptions and Content
Avoid copying existing content or creating near-duplicate versions of your content as it will bring little extra value to users. This applies to title tags, meta description tags, ecommerce product pages, landing pages, image alt text, and category pages. In order to provide the most value to web page visitors, the content on that page needs to be 100% unique.
You can create unique content by:
- Keeping the target audience in mind – is it broad, narrow or specified? By defining who needs to be reached by the content, this allows you as the writer to tailor the verbiage of the post to reach those people.
- Generate ideas – Designate time to brainstorm concepts and ideas to help create a unique direction. Think about ideas that others might not have considered or dive deeper and enhance on other areas that previous writers didn’t discuss in-depth.
- Be inspired by the little things – Ideas can come at the most random or inconvenient of times. But when inspiration hits you, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to capture it. That’s why keeping a journal on hand can be a great way to capture those ideas in the moment and be able to come back to them later when the time and space is right to dive deeper.
- Do thorough research – Spend time doing research before writing to make sure the intended content is original and unique. There is nothing worse than putting in a lot of time and effort into a content piece to only find out that someone has already done something similar.
- Decide how to present the content – presenting an idea or concept in a different way can be a refreshing experience for readers. Creating this enticing experience to read, learn or explore more. Content presentation can be in the form of a written blog, infographic, or video content. This can also work great for existing content to be presented in a light or angle to get a specific message across to a predetermined audience.
Optimize Your Title Tag for SEO
When it comes to on-page SEO, your title tag is KEY. Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result or why it’s relevant to their inquiry. Titles are often the primary pieces of information used to decide which results to click on.
To get the most out of your page’s title tag:
- Front-load your main keyword – meaning start your title tag with your target keyword. This is important since search engines pay close attention to the words you use in your title tag, including more emphasis on words that show up at the beginning. But sometimes it’s not possible to use your keyword at the beginning because it will make your title tag look weird. Yes, search engine optimization is important, but your title tags need to be useful for users too. Just make sure to include your title tag as early as you can.
- Use One Keyword per title – This is something Google has been very clear on. They don’t want you filling your title with a variety of keywords. Avoid using lengthy titles that aren’t useful for users and stuffing unnecessary keywords into your title tags. Instead, use one main keyword in your title and if your page is well written, you will organically rank for that keyword.
- Write Compelling Shareable Titles – Your title tags should make people want to click on your page to learn more. These title tags should be interesting, compelling and push people to share. The more people that click on your result in the search engine, the higher rankings you will see for your webpage.
Optimize Your Site’s Loading Speed
People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible. When page load times are lagging, viewers are more likely to leave the page and find the information they need elsewhere. Making site loading speed an important ranking factor within Google’s algorithm to be mindful of.
Before you start making changes to increase your site’s loading speed, it would be a good idea to benchmark your site’s current loading speed to know where you are at before you change anything. I recommend using the PageSpeed Insights tool. The recommendations you get come directly from Google and include a detailed report of ways your site load time can improve.
Track Your Results with The Google Search Console
The Search Console is a live dashboard that lets you know how your site is doing in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), so you are not flying blind with your SEO. There are a lot of helpful features and tools in the Search Console but there are 3 reports you should check on a regular basis
- Performance – this data let’s you know how many people see and click on your site in Google search, the exact keywords that people use to find your content, and where you rank for those keywords.
- Coverage – this report lets you know which pages have indexed and if Google is having trouble fully-crawling any of your pages. If Google can’t index your page, it won’t rank for anything so it’s very important if you see “errors” and “warnings” within this report to fix them as soon as possible.
- Enhancements – making sure that usability is high, both for desktop and mobile searches.
Optimize Images for SEO
If you use images on your webpage, you will want to make sure they are optimized for SEO. To make sure the images you are using are optimized make sure to name your images with descriptive filenames and use image alt text. Google can’t “see” images so having a descriptive filename helps google understand the content in your image. Google also uses image alt text or text that describes an image, along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page to understand the subject matter of the image. When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context with the content of the page. This is another area you would want to avoid keyword stuffing.
Use Internal Linking
This is an easy SEO best practice to use and incorporate into your content. Simply add a link from one page on your site to another page on your site. To get the most out of internal links, link related content, resources, tools or additional information that can add value to the current webpage or topic a viewer is reading.
Publish Amazing Content
High-quality content can be impactful to your website SEO. So if you want to rank high on your content today, your content marketing game needs to be on point, by investing time, money, staff or all three. There is a huge amount of content on the internet- making up billions of pages and not all of that content is equal. If the major contents of your post are good enough you still need an attention grabbing intro paragraph to get readers’ attention in the first few seconds before they lose interest and move on. Over the last few years, what is considered high-quality content has changed. A 1,000-word blog post used to be enticing and blew people away but today, a 1,000-word blog post is nothing special. In fact it’s common for bloggers and other writers to spend multiple hours on a single post. The higher-quality of content you want the more that needs to be invested in time, research, data, resources, review, and the people to do all of that.
I hope you have found these best practices useful as you develop your SEO strategy. With search engine algorithms constantly changing so will SEO but the basic rules and foundational efforts will remain the same. Focus on strategically placing keywords, optimizing site load times and accessibility, and making your titles and content unique in order to maintain a strong SEO foundation. To learn more about SEO, content marketing and more check out the recommended blog posts below.