SEO is a rewarding undertaking — but it can be challenging. It’s tempting to take shortcuts to get to page one of search engine results. But ultimately, your best bet is to lay down solid SEO groundwork. So, let’s review 15 essential SEO best practices your business should use. Then, you’ll be ready to get the most out of your search engine optimization efforts.
What are the 4 pillars of SEO best practices?
To boost your company’s SEO, start with the four mainstays. As we discussed in an earlier article about improving website rankings, these four piers are:
- Technical SEO
- Domain authority
- Content relevance
- User experience
Let’s review each of these pillars and the SEO best practices for each one.
1. Technical SEO
This pillar involves making your site Google-friendly. You want to let people and search engines know exactly what your site offers. Here’s a more detailed look at three ways to get your on-page SEO right:
Optimize performance with site speed
Modern search engines consider site speed to be an important ranking factor. Users get frustrated if pages take too long to load. WebPageTest.org offers a free, quick check. Ideally, pages should load in less than two seconds on all devices. Some steps that can increase page speed include eliminating code bloat and optimizing images.
Search engines actually have crawl budgets for each site. To make sure you don’t have more pages than the budget allows, reduce duplicate and low-value content or don’t index it. Screaming Frog is a free tool for determining how crawler-friendly your site is.
Make it indexable
Both a human user and a search engine crawler should be able to easily navigate the website. You can use the Google Search Console Crawl Stats and Index Coverage report to spot problems. Yoast SEO is another good resource.
It’s easy to get caught up in your written SEO strategy and forget about the visuals. But image SEO is a crucial part of determining search engine rankings and getting organic traffic. Often, Google images are the first thing at the top of search engine results pages. Images with higher resolution and larger dimensions greatly slow your page load times. They should be scaled down, sized for the web, and stick to JPGs and PNGs. Make sure to optimize the image file and title names, use alt tags, and include captions.
Write title tags that reflect your content
Title tags are essential for SEO because they provide search engines and users with context on each respective page. They’re one of the most crucial on-page SEO factors that give search engines an idea of what your page is all about. Make sure the title’s a manageable length, it has strategic keyword placement, and every page has a unique title.
Include a great meta description and meta tags
Compelling meta descriptions can boost the click-through rate of your organic search results. Consequently, more people who see your web pages in the search results will actually land on your site and stay. That means more traffic for you, even if your ranking stays the same. Be sure your meta descriptions are clear and concise and include the target keyword at the beginning. Lots of rich keyword phrases help, too.
2. Webpage or website authority
Hundreds or even thousands of sites can compete for the same keyword rank. Google wants to instantly serve up the best site to its users. To satisfy them, Google looks for ways to determine which site is the most relevant.
Use internal linking
Having one great page with many target keywords is not enough. Google wants to know that you’re an expert. Experts have lots of pages on their websites that users can visit to learn more. Use plenty of quality internal links to other posts on your website, to show Google that you’re not a one-trick-pony.
Build backlinks to your website
Nobody knows exactly how Google’s search algorithm calculates the relative domain authority. However, we do know that the size and quality of the site and its pages’ backlink profiles help establish authority when compared to other sites or pages. Many SEO marketers rely on domain authority tools on sites like Moz.com to deliver an estimate.
Poor-quality external links or irrelevant backlinks generally won’t help and may even hurt search rankings. Some Google updates have even penalized backlink spam. Irrelevant backlinks won’t help inform the Google search crawler about the site’s content. Strategic use of high-quality links from credible websites will help develop trust. You’ll see increased traffic from both search engine bots and humans.
Earn authoritative backlinks
Your SEO best practices should include link building, and many SEO tools are available to help with this. Ahrefs and Google Analytics provide plenty of helpful information on a site’s current backlinks and even that of competitors. Sources of high-quality backlinks could include industry journals, popular blog posts, and news sites.
Add anchor text
The anchor text is the visible, highlighted, clickable text in an HTML hyperlink that opens the target web page. It’s often colored blue and underlined. Make sure to use anchor text that provides context to both users and search engines. It should indicate what a user will see on the linked page if they click on it. Search engines use the anchor text to index and rank web pages.
3. Content relevance
Match search intent
Search intent refers to the reason someone is searching online. Obviously, visitors hope to find that a webpage provides the information they searched for. Google prioritizes delivery to the most relevant pages. Each page tries to signal to Google’s algorithm that it better matches user intent than its competitors. For example:
A search asking “how to make pizza” will return videos and articles about baking pizzas. The search phrase indicates that the user doesn’t want to buy a pizza. Google delivers little or no results about ordering pizza. If you want to sell someone a pizza, you must structure your article accordingly.
A search for “how to buy pizza” yields a page of results with pizza reviews and restaurant websites. Plus, the page will usually display plenty of ads.
Keyword research helps companies determine what people are searching for and their intent. High-quality content will have the right keyword density to make the content easy to find and meaningful.
At rellify, we use AI to help businesses make sure that they craft content to match search intent. This ensures Google’s search bots will understand the page’s relevance. Most of all, it helps businesses enjoy high-quality visitors who find exactly what they are searching for. That means more click-through that turns visitors into customers responding to your call to action.
Publish good content
Have you ever visited a website or blog and thought, “I’m not sure this person did any research on this topic before publishing,” or “do they know that spellcheck exists?” Users notice that kind of thing — and so do search engines. Relevant content also means quality content that provides readers with valuable, new, and interesting info. Refrain from regurgitating something you found on another website. Use your brand’s tone, style, and unique voice to make the information compelling. And don’t forget to naturally incorporate your main keywords early in your content. This signals that your content does precisely what it says it will do. Content is always king.
4. Your site’s user experience
Many customers experience their first impression of a business on its website. Businesses with solid content marketing will make sure their sites have covered on-page SEO fundamentals to support their quality content.
Many people use mobile devices for web surfing and e-commerce. A positive user experience, or UX, will improve engagement metrics that search engines use in their ranking algorithms. Make sure to test website features and pages on several different kinds of devices. You want to be sure that the website looks professional and works well. To get started, BrowserStack.com lets you see exactly how your site looks on different devices, like phones, tablets, and laptops. In addition, Google uses a secure HTTPS connection as a positive ranking factor, and it also builds trust with people.
Build easy navigation
Have you ever been lost on a website? You may get frustrated when you can’t find the information you need after visiting multiple pages. Easy navigation is one of the most critical aspects of user experience. One of the best things you can add to your home web page is a search bar. This takes users directly to the page or information that they need. If you publish long-form content, another great way to help users navigate your site is to feature related articles at the bottom of the page.
Stick with easy-to-read text
It’s easy to get excited about a cool font (OK, maybe that’s just us). Maybe you even think it’ll set your website apart. But it’s best to choose a clear, professional font within your brand’s style guide. Sans-serif fonts are a great place to start. For long-form content, black text on a white background is a wise choice. It also helps signal to search engines that you’re an authoritative website and not just a 13-year-old who knows how to code. Although if you’re a 13-year-old coder reading this, we’re proud of you.
Use SEO best practices to boost traffic
Too much of a good thing? Not when it comes to SEO best practices. For organic search engine marketing, the winner really does take it all. Attention to technical SEO, page and domain authority, user experience, and content relevance will attract potential customers and search crawlers. Luckily, businesses can rely on handy tools and companies for implementing best practices. Companies like rellify can help audit and improve all aspects of website content, especially on-page optimization. If you’re ready to optimize your website’s SEO strategy, contact a representative at rellify today.