8 Often Overlooked Quick Wins for SEO
Even if you have the best content strategy in the world, your website will be pretty hard to find if it’s not optimized for search. Thanks to black hat techniques and manipulative search professionals, SEO has gotten a bad rep in the past. But all SEO really is nowadays is optimizing for the human experience. Keyword stuffing and other spammy-looking techniques will only hurt you.
Google’s search algorithm has evolved to reward those websites that provide the best user experience and high quality content. Now of course, there are more technical aspects to SEO that don’t directly benefit your website visitors. But by thinking about your user during every step of your website development and content creation process, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in search engines. Remember, the customer is the hero of your website. Not you.
Create a Logical and Clean Site Structure
Your site structure is an extremely important aspect of SEO. If you create a user-friendly site structure that is easy to navigate through, Google will reward you. Your top-level pages should target more general and branded keywords, with the subpages targeting more specific long-tail keywords. For example, if you are a cosmetic surgeon, your homepage would focus on branded keywords (like the name of your business). Your subpages might then target face, body and breast plastic surgery. Then more specific subpages would focus on each individual procedure, such as rhinoplasty and liposuction.
Make sure each page has a title that makes sense, that your website has a well-structured navigation bar, and that your site features a crawlable site map that logically lays out your website. While you’re building your site structure, test that it’s easy to use and navigate by utilizing tools like Treejack and Usabilitest.
You should also practice internal linking throughout your website. Make sure each page has a header, subheaders, body, sidebars, and appropriate and high-quality content so Google can easily understand what each page means.
Focus On Meaning Rather Exact-Match Keywords
Stuffing your page with exact-match keywords used to be a sure-fire way to get you a bunch of traffic. However, as Google’s algorithm has become smarter, it derives meaning from keywords and keyword synonyms used in your meta data, rather than relying on exact-match keywords. In fact, synonyms affect 70 percent of user searches, according to Google’s own research.
Instead of delivering users content that matches their keywords exactly, Google works to understand the intent of the user’s search so that it can deliver content that helps them best. For example, if a user types in “apple cell phone”, it’s likely that they are looking for an iPhone rather than the fruit. Instead of providing the searcher with facts or images about the fruit, Google may deliver online shopping results for iPhones. It understands the user’s intent.
Make sure to use synonyms of the keywords you are targeting naturally throughout your page’s content to ensure that Google knows what you are talking about. Thinking about user intent while you’re crafting your content and copy will bring you much more relevant traffic that is more likely to convert.
Keyword Placement Is More Important Than Keyword Frequency
Stuffing your page with keywords is more likely to leave you with a penalty than increase your rankings in the SERPs. Instead of worrying about frequency, make sure your targeted keywords are placed in the most important sections of your page and ensure that each page targets a different keyword. Use Google Keyword Planner to make sure people are actually searching for the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Use Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool to make sure you actually have a chance to rank for those keywords. If a keyword is too competitive and you’re a smaller business, it might not be worth trying to rank for it.
Add relevant keywords to the beginning of your title tag, which takes the top priority in Google Search. Then, add your keyword to your meta description so that Google doesn’t pull a random description from the content on your page. Though meta descriptions don’t directly affect your rankings, compelling descriptions that include bolded keywords will increase click through rates.
Keywords should also be placed in your URLs, headers and subheaders, which take second priority to your page’s meta data. The copy in your body paragraphs should include keywords and keyword synonyms naturally, and your image alt attributes and file names should also include keywords. Finally, keywords in your website’s header and footer are last priority.
Making On-Page SEO Easy
There are a variety of tools you can use to make on-page SEO easier and faster. If you’re using WordPress, install the Yoast plugin to figure out exactly how well-optimized your page is for search, and what you need to do to improve it. If you don’t use WordPress, Moz’s On-Page Grader provides you with similar information.
Don’t Be Lazy With Your Content
Featuring high quality content on each of your pages is essential to optimizing your website for search. Here’s a checklist of tips to help you make your content as valuable as possible:
- Longer content is better for search engines, but it’s more important to be relevant. If you want to try to rank highly in search engines, try to reach a 1,000 word count or higher while still providing relevant and helpful information. If you want to target mobile users with your content, cut the word count down and focus on long-tail keywords.
- Make sure your page content is relevant to the title tag.
- Support your content with videos, images, infographics and other types of media to improve the user experience and reduce bounce rate.
- Instead of answering one question in your blog post or website content, answer multiple user queries that are related to one another.
- Use research from reliable sources (.gov and .edu websites, credible news sources and peer-reviewed publications) in your content and link to those sources.
- Break up your content with headers, lists, bullet points and images so that it’s easy to digest.
- Triple check that your grammar and spelling is correct.
Make Sure Your Website Is Friendly For All Devices
Virtually nobody spends time online exclusively on their desktop anymore. According to eMarketer, time spent with digital media on a mobile device makes up 51% of all time spent with digital media, much higher than desktop. That’s why it’s imperative that you ensure your website is friendly for all devices.
All About Those Links
Links continue to be one of Google’s most important ranking factors. And unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult parts of SEO. Compelling and helpful content on your website should naturally generate backlinks over time through social sharing and featured links on high-quality websites.
You should also focus on building quality links by creating relationships with other bloggers and contributors to reputable websites, such as .edu sites and news publications. Finally, your company can sponsor and take part in charitable events to earn publicity and backlinks from non-profit websites.
While high-quality links increase your search rankings, a bunch of low quality links can hurt your rankings. You can find out who is linking to your website by using tools like Moz Open Site Explorer.
Fun and Helpful 404 Pages
Craft helpful and/or entertaining 404 pages to reduce users’ bounce rates when they encounter an error. An easy way to do this is to link to your most compelling content. You can also think way outside of the box for 404 pages, like these guys did.
Quick On-Page SEO Tips
- Don’t target too many keywords on one page.
- Include your keywords in the URL, title tag, meta description, first paragraph of your content, image alt tags, and throughout your content. You should also use synonyms throughout your content.
- Try to keep your page copy above 300 words. If you can’t do this on all pages, don’t sweat it too much. It’s much more important to feature high quality and relevant content.
- Include at least one image on each page with keywords in the alt tag.
- Every page should focus on a different keyword.
- Each page should feature unique, high quality content.
- Test to make sure your content is easy to read by using the Hemingway App.
- Surround video and images with keyword-rich text, as long as it sounds natural.
- Include outbound links that you think would be helpful for your readers in your blog posts.
- Link to your own content throughout the pages on your website, in your blog, in your newsletter, on social media, and anywhere else that is applicable.
- Include direct links to your most important pages on your homepage.
- Target keywords with commercial intent to get people who are actively looking to buy to your site (i.e. cheap hot tubs, buy small hot tub, 4-person hot tub price).
- Use structured data markup to supply search engines with even more data about your site.
- Never, never, never practice blackhat SEO, such as keyword stuffing, invisible text and paid links. It’s not worth it.
- Make sure that index.html or default.php isn’t attached to your domain name.
- Work with a reliable web hosting company.
- Hire a web developer and designer that understands SEO, like Capacitr. Site development has as much of an effect on SEO as content does.
SEO is never over. Since search algorithms constantly change and evolve, you’ll need to continuously work on optimizing your website and its content for search. Hire SEO experts to help you consistently optimize your site for more leads and conversions.