Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher a website or web page is ranked in SERP results, the more likely it is to be visited by users.
Many factors go into search engine optimization including keyword research, link building, and technical site improvements. However, there are simple things you can do as you’re creating and posting content to your site that will improve your website’s SEO.
Here are seven tips that can make a significant difference:
1. Make sure to have an SEO title and meta description for every page
When it comes to SEO, every page on your website matters. That’s why it’s important to make sure that each page has its own unique title and meta description. Every page is an opportunity to focus on a different keyword that will result in people finding a page on your site with the information or products they are looking for.
The SEO title is the text that appears at the top of a search result, and the meta description is the brief summary that appears beneath the title. Both the title and meta description are important for attracting taps and clicks from potential customers. In addition to including keywords, you’ll want to make sure that your titles and descriptions are informative. After all, you want people to actually click or tap over to your website!
- It’s important to make sure that each page has its own unique title. If you use the same title for multiple pages, the site is essentially competing against itself and it will dilute the ability to rank well. While it may be tempting to save time by reusing titles, in the long run it’s worth making the effort to create unique and relevant titles for each page. For pages with content that’s a subset of a topic, you should be able to simply focus your keyword and title on a more long-tail keyword with a narrower focus. Not only will this improve your SEO results, it also gives visitors a better experience as they browse your site.
- Keep character length in mind. Google shows 600 pixels or about 60 characters for SEO titles. Try to keep within that including your site title, but don’t worry too much if you occasionally are a little longer and you knowingly understand that it will be truncated in search. However, if you know it’s going to be truncated, make sure that the relevant words are toward the beginning and will appear before the cut-off. Same with meta descriptions. The length for meta descriptions is 920 pixels or about 158 characters on desktop and about 120 characters on mobile devices.
- Keep in mind that the title that appears in Google search does not have to exactly match the headline on the page. For example, sometimes the headlines on blog articles have a nice catchy title from a reader point of view that does not necessarily have keywords in it. You can adjust the SEO title to convey the gist of the article while optimizing the page for search engine visibility.
- If you’re just getting started, use an SEO plugin to make entering the content easy. For example, in WordPress you could use Yoast SEO or All in One SEO to make input easy.
2. Support SEO keywords on your page content
Simply putting keywords in your SEO title will generally not be enough to rank well, especially for competitive phrases. Google needs to be “convinced” that the page truly will deliver. And one indication is that the words would appear on the page! As close to the top is best. If it truly is about the topic, Google assumes it would be mentioned at the beginning.
If it makes sense from a user experience point of view, try to include it in your H1 tag – the largest heading on your page which should generally be at the top. Including keywords and semantically related terms within subheads (h2 and h3 headings) and in body copy is also good.
- If the design of the page or the style of the author’s writing doesn’t fit this formula, don’t force it. In that case, at least include keywords and semantically related words throughout the page.
- The more places your keywords appear – page title, subhead, body copy, alt tags, the less likely Google will override it.
3. Use your targeted keyword(s) in your permalink
If you’re blogging or writing articles for SEO purposes, it’s important to choose a permalink that includes your targeted keywords. A permalink is the unique address full address of a blog post or article (including the “https:”). By including keywords in it, you can help improve your article’s search engine ranking. In WordPress, the permalink is located right under the page title and can be edited.
- When choosing a permalink, try to keep it as short and concise as possible, and generally avoid using stop words such as “and” or “the.”
- If you are changing a permalink on a page that has been live, remember to have the previous url redirected to the new one or visitors who bookmarked that page will get a “404 Page Not Found” error. If you don’t know how to do this, your web maintenance agency should be able to easily take care of this.
4. Watch keyword frequency
That said, don’t overdo it. Google doesn’t like “keyword stuffing” so make it natural.
- Use synonyms, secondary keywords, and long-tail keywords rather than the exact phrase too many times.
- What Google considers too much is related to the proportion of keywords to copy. Just use common sense for good, natural usage. SEO plugins can help you determine if you are using the keyword too many times.
5. Always use ALT tags on images
We see quite frequently that clients posting their own content do not include an alt tag on images. This is missed opportunity to improve your SEO. An ALT tag is a written description of an image. Since search engines can’t recognize the meaning of an image, it needs word labels to understand what the image shows. This is of course mainly helpful for using assistive technologies for the visually impaired, but is also valuable for search engine optimization. In WordPress, the field for the alternative text is in at the top of the right column of the image’s Attachment Details.
- The description should accurately describe the image but try to weave in your keyword semantically related words or something related to the topic of the page.
- Sometimes you just can’t make it tie in but it’s still good to include something for the alt tag.
- You can use more words than you think — from a user perspective, screen readers show up to 125 characters.
6. Include links to other pages
One of the key elements of SEO is including links on your pages. Linking to other websites indicates to search engines that your site is relevant and connected to a larger community.
- Internal links count! Internal links are links from one page on your website to another page on your website. Of course, the primarily purpose of this to aid the user experience by encouraging visitors to stay on a site and continue to “engage.” Good web design would naturally be linked. However, it’s also good for SEO.
- An external link is a link that goes to a page outside your site. The external links you add helps search engines determine the quality and usefulness of your web page. It seems somewhat counterintuitive to send people away from your website but from a search engine point of view, it is an indication of quality and does help search engine optimization. Make sure to link to relevant and high quality sites!
- Use relevant text for your anchor tags. Anchor tags are the text copy that people tap or click on to go to the linked page. My personal pet peeve is anchor tags like, “Click here.” Instead, you will want to use a phrase that’s relevant to the content people are linking to see. For example, “long-tail keyword” in Tip #1 above is an example of an external link with a meaningful anchor tag.”
7. Fix broken site links
This is more of a technical SEO improvement but those adding or updating content will be able to easily correct an incorrect link. Broken links can have a negative impact on your website’s SEO because search engines reward trustworthy sites. A lot of broken links is an indication that the site is not a well-functioning trustworthy site.
- Broken links happen all the time. It’s easy to forget to change all places where a changed link has been placed for example. Your web development firm should be able to run a report of broken links – it makes it a lot easier to find them!
Search Engine Optimization is a process of continual improvement
Search engine optimization is a continual and limitless series of activities, but every step of improvement makes a difference! By following these tips, you can improve your website’s visibility and chances of ranking higher in search engine results. Most important, you’ll be attracting visitors who have essentially self-selected themselves as interested in the content on your site.
It’s fun to watch your organic website traffic grow. Contact Verve Marketing Group for a site audit and more in-depth SEO work. We love search engine optimization and can customize a plan for you with monthly tracking. You’ll enjoy monitoring the results!