Search engine optimization is an effective way to send traffic to your website, but it isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Good SEO involves specific tasks to optimize each page, as well as an ongoing maintenance and observation plan to help cut problems off at the pass.
You don’t have to be an SEO expert to help your website achieve better organic search results. Let’s take a look at some easy ways to help boost your site in the search rankings!
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is perhaps the most fundamental part of good SEO practice. When putting together content for your website, you should conduct keyword research before writing to help guide your content creation. Your keyword mix should contain general terms and work toward more specific terms. What you’re really gunning for here is what’s called search intent. You want to find specific keywords to help ensure the right person finds your content and will be more likely to interact with it in some way.
For example, if your business is a fishing guide service, you want to develop content that helps attract the right visitor to your site who will eventually become a customer. Consult a keyword research tool such as Moz, SEMRush or Google Keyword Planner and start looking at keywords and search volumes. You’ll start out with broad terms like “fishing” and eventually work to “fishing guide service on Table Rock Lake.” The latter definitely signals the intent to fish at Table Rock Lake and is more likely to convert to a paying customer.
Want to learn more about keyword research? Check out this great guide from Moz!
2. Update Metadata
Once you’ve dialed in your keywords and written a great piece of content, updating the metadata for the page is crucial. Metadata is the page title and brief description you see in search engine results pages. This is your shot to make sure the searcher knows what the page is about and entice them to click.
Title tags should contain no more than 65 characters, including spaces. Anything longer will likely be lopped off by the search engine, possibly leaving the searcher with questions about the content of your page.
Your title tag and meta description should also contain the primary keyword for the page, if possible. You should also try to work in your website address to make it clear which site the searcher will be visiting. In our fishing guide service example, your title tag might look like this:
Table Rock Fishing Guide | FauxGuideService.com
To avoid being truncated, a good meta description should contain no more than 155 characters. Think of it as a concise description of the page content to help the searcher make a decision. A good way to develop a quality meta description is to repurpose a couple of sentences or a short paragraph from the post.
For our guide service, the meta description might read like this: Finding the right Table Rock Lake Fishing Guide is the difference between a fun fishing trip and a costly mistake. Here’s the best way to choose a guide.
It works in the keyword, gives a good sense of the purpose of the piece and leaves the searcher wanting to know more. Don’t forget to go back and check older pages and make sure they have the correct title tags and meta descriptions, too. It’s an easy way to help get the right people to your site!
Since you’re on your way to becoming an expert in title tags and meta descriptions, this handy tool will help you keep count of the characters in your work!
3. Create Schema Markup
Schema markup is a small piece of code that’s deployed on a webpage that gives additional details about the page to the search engine. Schema markup is then used by the search engine to create what’s known as a featured snippet.
Featured snippets are found above the search results and can take on several different formats such as image pack, map pack, local pack and others. Only pages with schema markup data are eligible for these rich search results, so taking a few minutes to implement schema on each page of your website is well worth the effort.
There are numerous types of schema markup, and you should find the most appropriate type (or types) for your webpage. Check out Schema.org to learn more about schema markup and to see the different types that might fit your pages.
4. Optimize Images
One of the single best things you can do for higher SERP rankings is to optimize images on your website. Optimizing images can involve several steps to help reduce file size and load images as quickly as possible. The trick here is to reduce the image file size as much as possible without sacrificing the quality.
There are several ways to optimize your images—from the basics, such as saving the file at the required size, to more advanced methods, such as saving them in newer file formats like WebP. Any and all of these methods can help you speed up your website and give users a better experience.
An easy way to make sure your images are optimized is to use a WordPress plugin like Smush Pro. Image optimization plugins help walk even the most inexperienced person through the process of optimizing images. Simply answer a few questions, and the plugin will do the heavy lifting.
Most image optimization plugins will even resave files in other formats such as WebP and offer a content delivery network just for image files.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to update the alt-text for each image. Alt-text is designed to let differently abled persons know what the photo on the page depicts. It also lets the search engines know what a specific image is and helps determine the page relevance. It’s a great way to work in a keyword to give an extra clue to search engines about the page content.
For example, your alt-text might read like this: Table Rock Lake fishing guide John Doe helps a client boat a largemouth bass. It describes the photo and provides context about the page, giving you a leg up over competitors who neglect this important task!
5. Create High-Quality Content
This one goes without saying. If your content isn’t good, you can do all of the steps above and not see meaningful SEO results. Take the time to research your topic, do keyword research and write a well-thought-out piece. Create a post that will engage the reader and compel them to interact further.
This is where the magic of SEO happens. People search for a topic, find your page and interact with your content. This behavior validates all of the work you did, from keyword research to image optimization. It also signals to search engines that your content is relevant and helps drive you further up the search rankings. It’s a cycle of success that will keep you moving in the right direction!
High-quality content is the glue that will hold all of your SEO efforts together, so don’t skimp on this part of the process. Here’s a terrific infographic that sheds further light on the importance of great content.
Bonus Tip: Create A Link Strategy
Linking to quality content both on and off your site is a key piece of the SEO puzzle.
Links let search engines know that your piece is authoritative and provides an additional avenue for potential readers to find your content. If you find a post on another page that provides additional insight into your topic, link to it. Including internal links is important, too. Giving readers an easy avenue to find other content on your site or a link directly to your contact page gives them another way to interact with your site and get your authority ranking even higher. Always insert at least one external and internal link somewhere in your page!
What Not to Do
For all of the good you can do by following the above tips, you can do as much harm to your organic search rankings by letting yourself fall into the three traps below. You can’t just set up a few SEO steps and let nature take its course. Good SEO practice involves constant monitoring to make sure things stay on track.
1. Slow Site Speed
Google has specifically pointed to site speed—and more specifically, mobile site speed—as one of the major factors for its search rankings. Slow load times contribute to a poor user experience, and your site will definitely get dinged for it.
We discussed image optimization earlier, and it’s the single biggest contributor to slow site speed. Making sure your images are set up correctly is key, but it isn’t the only factor. Code bloat, incorrectly loading scripts and other technical factors can slow a site down considerably (more on that in a sec).
Test your site frequently, especially if you’ve made some significant additions or overhauls. A tool like GT Metrix can give you a good idea about any issues causing your site to slow down and provide a road map for fixing them.
2. Poor Technical Health
Site speed is a big part of your site’s technical health, but you should periodically conduct a full technical audit to keep an eye on other potential problems.
A technical audit will help identify problems like broken links, 404 errors and missing items such as H1 tags, metadata and image alt text. It’s a tried-and-true method to fix and prevent potential SEO problems that aren’t readily visible.
Screaming Frog is the perfect tool for the job. It crawls your site just like a search engine bot and reports back on its findings. A glance into the tool’s tabs will show you any and all technical problems and allow you to fix them quickly. Once the major issues on your site have been corrected, set up a crawl schedule to monitor the site and you’ll have any problems fixed in no time!
The best part? Screaming Frog is free for most use cases. Small sites will easily fall under the URL limit for the free version, giving you access to a tremendous tool at no cost.
3. Neglect the site
This goes right along with our previous tip, but it can’t be understated: Don’t neglect your site! Keeping a regular eye on the health of your site will keep small problems from becoming big problems.
The sad fact about websites is that they can break without much warning. Pages move and links break. A plugin update can cause parts of your site to stop functioning properly. One change to a setting inside your site can cause serious damage to your search rankings.
Watching your site from the inside out will definitely pay dividends down the road!
If you’re looking for some SEO help and want to consult a team of experts, Campaignium is here for you! Just get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs and help your site achieve better results in search engine rankings. We look forward to hearing from you and discussing ways to make your business stronger!