Having strong, engaging, and informative content on your website is a must for any successful business or organization. This is the portal through which website visitors can learn about your business. But how do they find your website on the internet that has more than 1.3 billion active websites (and that number continues to increase with each every second)? This is where the use of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and best practices come into play.
SEO is the practice of increasing your website’s page rankings and the quality and quantity of traffic that visits your website via organic search engine results. SEO, in conjunction with the incorporation of effective keywords, helps users find your page when typing in an inquiry into their preferred search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.). It’s essentially the spotlight that you use to make your website shine and stand out from the competition. Best practices have changed significantly over the years as search engine algorithms change.
According to the inbound marketing approach to marketing, users find and engage with your website because they are at one of three stages (awareness, consideration, decision) of the buyer’s journey. They may be in the early (awareness) stage where they are trying to learn more about a particular subject — in fact, that could be how and why you find yourself reading this blog post right now — or they can further along into the process (consideration stage) and want more specific information that includes a list of your products or services, or even be ready to make a decision between choosing your company or your competition.
SEO is one of the online strategies used in IM to attract these users to your website. So if you want to learn more about SEO best practices and how to do SEO successfully on your own website, you’re in the right place.
To begin making your website or content optimized for search engines, your website content and blog posts need to address topics that users are searching for each day. This can present a challenge, as Google alone processes an average of more than 40,000 search inquiries every second and more than a trillion searches a year. So how do you know what keywords people are searching for right now? Where do you begin to make sure your website is found?
SEO Best Practices to Incorporate into Your Website, Blog
1: Research Keywords, Your Competitors
If you’re trying to determine what content to include on your website or in a blog post, you always can use the following steps:
- Watch or read the news to see what timely topics, new innovations, or relevant news to your industry is being discussed.
- Refer to the Google Trends website to see what subject matter or topics users are searching for right now.
- Check to see what your competition is writing about on their blogs and websites.
- Research what questions your sales representatives/teams receive from website visitors and prospective customers.
- Research keywords using tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEM Rush, MOZ or others to research which keywords and phrases are most relevant to your topic and receive the high number of monthly searches.
So now that you know what you want to write about, how do you most effectively optimize your website or blog posts to get the biggest ROI for your marketing efforts?
2: Use Title Tags and Other Page Formatting Tricks
Search engines use “spiders” or bots that automatically crawl content to find the most relevant, authoritative sources for their top search results. Part of the criteria they use to determine the authority and relevance of your website is formatting components, including
- Title tags (H1, H2, H3 tags) to create page hierarchy,
- Bulleted or numbered text,
- Bold typeface to emphasize important key terms,
- Authoritative embedded external website links,
- Internal embedded website links to your evergreen content,
- Incorporation of images and graphics (that include keywords in the image file titles), and
- Alt text that uses your keywords
3: Create an Impactful Meta Description
You may be asking, “what is a meta description?” This HTML line of text is the summary that briefly describes what your website, blog post, or landing page and incorporates one or more of your targeted keywords. It’s essentially your website’s ad that sells your page to the search user. It consists of one or two sentences — typically 160 characters or less — that entices users to want to click on your link and learn more by reading your content.
4: Be Brief and Speak to Your Audience
An effective blog post or website content doesn’t have to go on forever -- and people don’t have long attention spans. More than half of internet users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. Concise content and use of bullet points can make your website or blog easy to scan. It’s important to not inundate users with too much information. Additionally, it’s best to tailor your content to your target audience or inbound marketing buyer personas.
5: Create, Use Engaging Images and Graphics
Users like eye candy. They want images and graphics that grab their attention and serve a purpose by entertaining and/or informing them in some way. Images can include examples or representatives of content that is discussed on your website, screenshots for a how-to guide, informative infographics, or clever image that engages the user.
6: Keep Your Content Fresh
Old content, much like a delicious cookie, gets stale as time passes and becomes unappealing to your audience. While it may not literally become moldy, as your website content loses its “freshness” and becomes dated, people are less likely to engage with it. Evergreen content, on the other hand, does not have that same timeliness issue and can enjoy longer shelf life.
The more “fresh” content you incorporate on your blog and web pages, the more influence your site can have on search engines.
7: Make Content Shareable
In a world that has billions of people using social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social sharing is an important component of your website’s success. Include email and social media sharing buttons on your pages to encourage users to share your content with their families, friends, and social media networks.
No matter if you are brand new to SEO or a CEO who is trying to get a refresher on optimization best practices, we hope these SEO tips will come in handy to make your website gain visibility and drive new and more targeted traffic to your site. If you have any SEO hacks and recommended best practices, be sure to include yours in a blog comment below.