Search Engine Optimization companies are making a fortune by doing the menial work that is overlooked by many website designers. It is ridiculously easy to do most of the work done by most SEO companies, all you have to do is create good habits and focus these 9 main points that are sure to give you good success:
• URL Text
• Description, Meta tags
• Title tags
• Image Names
• ALT tags
• Heading tags
Keywords are the most important aspect of good SEO, this is where you tell the Search Engines what your site is about. Search Engines use an algorithm to determine the "Keyword Density" of your site, this formula is:
Total Words ÷ Keywords= Keyword Density. Use this formula on your competitors web site and see how they score, then aim to beat that score.
Choose keywords that best relate to the information, products or services that you are offering. For instance, if I am designing a site about "Web Design", I want my site to include the words "Web Design" as many times as possible. However, most people don't just search for just one word, they type phrases, so you should consider the phrases that best suit your sites target market. For example, if I am creating a site about "Web Design" in New Orleans, I would include "New Orleans web design" in my keywords. Another way around this is to not separate my keywords with commas, just use spaces, and the Search Engines will make the phrases for you. The most important thing to remember is that the content of each page is different, so only use keywords pertaining to that page.
Tips to Help You Choose the right keywords
Think like a customer
Identify your target audience and put yourself into the shoes of a customer when you create your initial list of keywords. Ask yourself, 'If I wanted to find one of these products or services, what would I type into Google?' You can also consult others, such as friends, family members, or even current customers to get their opinion on phrases they would use when searching for your products and services.
Study the competition
Make a list of your main competitors and go to their websites to see what keywords they are targeting. Read their content and view their metatags to help identify the keywords they are targeting. Looking at your competitor's keywords will not only help you see what you could be forgetting, but also help broaden your list of ideas.
Understand long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are a combination of three or more words or phrases. While long tail keywords tend to boast lower search volumes, they generally attract more relevant traffic, are typically less competitive, and easier to rank well on. Choose long tail keywords that help to specify your product or service.
Use keyword research tools
If you are using Google Ads you can use their keyword tool to research your potential target keywords. With this tools and others like SEMRUSH and Raventools, you can gather data on keyword volume and trends, keyword competition, similar keywords and more.
Analyze the results
After choosing your keywords don't forget to monitor them and analyze the results. There are often trending keywords or phrases, along with new keywords your competitors may be using.
Don't forget to utilize your keywords wherever possible! Insert your keywords into blog posts, social media posts, metatags and your website's content. The more you use keywords within your content, the easier it will be for your target audience to find you.
When you name a new page you have the option to call it anything you could possibly think of. After all, the URL address is the first things a search engine comes across when indexing your pages. You have to remember content doesn't come easy to everyone, so you gotta slip in your keywords when the process gives you an easy one.
Here are eight best practices for creating SEO-friendly URLs.
Describe your Content
A user should be able to make an accurate guess about the content of a web page simply by reading the URL. To accomplish this, a URL should include an accurate phrase or term that pertains to the page content.
Include Keywords in URLs
It is a best practice to optimize every web page around one keyword, and this keyword should be included in the URL. It is also important to put the most important keywords in the beginning of the URL, as search engine spiders do not give as much significance to words toward the end of a URL. Remember though, do not overuse keywords. Search engines recognize keyword stuffing and will penalize your website for those actions.
Use Hyphens to Separate Words
Using hyphens to separate words in URL phrases is important to both user readability and search engine optimization. Google recommends using hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in URLs because hyphens are treated as spaces between words, while words connected by underscores are viewed as one word.
Not optimized: http://example.com/blog/url_optimization_tips
Use Lowercase Letters in URLs
Do not use capital letters in your URLs. Search engines can decipher from uppercase and lowercase letters in URLs, which can lead to duplicate URLs and loss of page rank.
Not optimized: http://example.com/blog/URL-Optimization-Tips
Keep URLs Short
The URL of a web page should be as descriptive and brief as possible. A short URL is quicker to type and read. Also, the fewer the words the more value each word receives from a search engine spider. Too many similar words in a URL can be viewed as keyword stuffing and could result in a drop in search rankings.
Use Static URLs
Whenever possible it is better to use static, non-changeable URLs. These are URLs which remain constant with each page load. Try to avoid unnecessary parameters like "?," "&," and "=", which are common features of dynamic URLs. Static URLs are easier for both users and search engines to read. This doesn't mean you can't add extra parameters to URLs you will be posting to social media to help track marketing data, but avoid hard-coding dynamic URLs directly into your site.
Be Careful with Subdomains
It is important to consider that search engines have the potential to treat a subdomain as a separate entity from the primary domain. This can affect multiple aspects of SEO, including link building and trust value. Unless you have a specific reason to use a subdomain, it is best to use subfolders instead.
Not optimized: http://topic.example.com
Limit Folders in URL Structure
A URL should contain no unnecessary folders. Just use the amount of folders and characters that are needed for your URL structure. The flatter your site structure is the better.
Description Meta tags
These tags are dwindling in importance since Search Engines are now looking at content. Optimize your meta tags to match your content, products, and services, and the Search Engines that still look at meta data will reward your efforts.
Tips for writing effective meta descriptions
- Length - Use a maximum of 155 characters. If your meta description is longer than that characters may get cut off by both search engines and social media sites.
- Specific and Meaningful - Your meta description should be concise and specific, telling the user exactly what your page is offering. The description should read as a meaningful call to action, enticing users to read further.
- Keywords - Keywords are important in meta descriptions, but avoid keyword stuffing. Use keywords that relate specifically to the page and make sure they flow well within the description. Terms that are being searched will be highlighted in bold text in the meta descriptions on the search engine results page. You want these keywords to stand out from your competitors.
- Uniqueness - Each page on your site should have a unique meta description. If multiple pages have the same meta description then your goal of enticing the reader to click ahead is not being realized. If you have several similar pages then you should create a formula in which slight, yet relevant changes can be made to highlight the page differences.
Title tags are the tags that tell the Search Engine the title, or formal description of the document or page. This is the word or phrase that is seen at the top of the browser window. The most important rule about title tags is, don't put anything in the title tags but keywords. Once again this is an easy time to slip in your keywords, so don't miss out.
Quick Guide to Crafting SEO Titles
Avoid Extraneous characters
Sometimes you see strange characters in URLs such as &, %, $, and @. It is more difficult for search engines to crawl websites if their URLs contain a lot of these extraneous characters.
In regards to URL length, there’s no better place to look than Google itself.
- The average URL length for Gmail is 59 characters.
- The average URL length for Webmaster Tools is 90 characters.
- The average URL length for the Google blog is 76 characters.
Back in 2011, it seemed like long URLs didn’t rank well. One of the main reasons for this is that they have built up many backlinks over time, which affect rankings a lot more than URL length does.
Quicksprout analyzed the top 100 results for 1,000 keywords, here is what was found:
- URLs ranked in the top 10 results on average contained 37 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 20 results on average contained 35 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 30 results on average contained 39 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 40 results on average contained 41 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 50 results on average contained 36 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 60 results on average contained 32 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 70 results on average contained 48 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 80 results on average contained 45 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 90 results on average contained 41 characters.
- URLs ranked in the top 100 results on average contained 38 characters.
Based on this data, it looks like URLs that contain 35 to 40 characters tend to dominate the search listings. This doesn’t necessarily mean that long URLs can’t rank, especially when you consider that 21% of the URLs that rank on page one contained over 60 characters. It’s still worth noting that majority of the URLs fit within the range above.
Content doesn't come easy to everyone, so slip in your keywords whenever possible, this applies to image names. If you are saving a picture for your web design web site, don't call it "some_dude.jpg", call it "web_site_design.jpg". The Search engine will look at the code for the site and see the image pertains to the content of the site and this will be another relevant element on that particular page. You have to take the easy ones when you are given a chance.
Search Engine Journal recommends you customize Image File Names. It says:
when it comes to SEO, creating descriptive, keyword-rich file names is absolutely crucial. Not customizing your image file name is like getting a burrito with nothing in it. It just plain sucks. Image file names alert Google and other search engine crawlers as to the subject matter of the image. Typically, file names will look like “IMG_722019” or something similar. That’s like ordering from a menu in a different language. It doesn’t help Google. Change the file name from the default to help the search engines understand your image and improve your SEO value
Alt tags are a text alternative to images when a browser can’t properly render them. Similar to the title, the alt attribute is used to describe the contents of an image file.
When the image won’t load, you’ll get an image box with the alt tag present in the top left corner. Make sure they fit with the image and make the picture relevant.
Paying attention to alt tags is also beneficial to the overall on-page SEO strategy. You want to make sure that all other optimization areas are in place, but if the image fails to load for any reason, users will see what the image is supposed to be.
Adding appropriate alt tags to the images on your website can help your website achieve better rankings in the search engines by associating keywords with images. Even Google has remarked on the value of alt text in images.
It provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. Google says we use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s query.
Heading tags are associated with the bold font that leads into a section of text. Like this:
Your heading tags should only be keywords, and should be presented in the order that your Meta tags follow.
H1= first meta tag, H2= second meta tag...
Try to utilize all 6 heading tags on each page to ensure maximum page optimization.
Header tags help with SEO
In 2009, former Googler Matt Cutts stated that “Whenever we rank things, we use things in the title, things in the URL, even things that are really highlighted, like <h2> tags and stuff like that.”
However, during a Google Webmaster Hangout session, John Mueller confirmed that Google does use H tags to better understand the structure of the text on a page, but your site can do perfectly fine without any h1 tags or with five h1 tags. Furthermore, a recent Moz study confirmed that using H1 instead of H2 tags made no statistically significant difference.
What we can take from this info is that the presence of headers—not specifically HTML header tags—can indeed impact a page’s SERP rankings to a certain degree.
That is, having a clear and proper page structure can help Google understand when it’s relevant to display a page in response to a searcher’s query, plus it makes the page eligible for many special features in search, such as decorated results, review stars, and more.
Now, although it is commonly accepted that header tags don’t have a significant direct impact on SEO, the use of HTML header tags does help produce quality content with good readability. And, as was mentioned in the previous sections, the better the text is from the user’s perspective, the better it is for SEO.
Best practices for using header tags
Knowing the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of header tags, let’s now look at the ‘how’.
So far we’ve settled that search engines are all about making it easy for people to look for and find the right content online. This means that in order to stand a chance of having high SEO rankings, you can’t afford not to optimize your HTML header tags.
Here are some of the SEO best practices for creating effective HTML headers in your content.
Focus on the <h1> tag
Right off the bat, I want to say that even though you can get ranked organically without using H tags, doing so is a huge wasted opportunity that will result in you having an incomplete SEO profile.
Now, since the <h1> header tag is meant to clearly describe the content that’s present on a page, it must be:
- Directly related to it;
- Written concisely, naturally and organically;
- Unique across the site;
- Put outside images because search engines have a hard time understanding them;
- Used once per page, although John Mueller claims otherwise:
As every expert will tell you, "Content is King." Each web page should have at least 350 words on it, and the more the better, but keep in mind the formula for keyword density. You don't want to fill a page with 1500 words and only 5 keywords in it. Some people get hung-up on how browsers display text, and use images with text in them because they want a cool font, but browsers can't read the text embedded in images, so this content ads no weight to the page in a Search Engines eyes.
Linkbaiting is the new trend among high ranking sites. Linkbaiting means writing quality content, or articles that other web sites can display on their pages as long as they give credit, and a link to your site.
Although there is no secret formula for writing high-quality content, these are several tips that can help improve the quality and quantity of your written material:
- Take your Headline Seriously. The headline determines whether audiences will read the rest of your work. If the headline doesn’t spark interest, stir an emotion or make the reader want to learn more about the topic, you simply won’t achieve the desired results with your content.
- Create a Hook That Grabs Their Attention. You have three seconds to keep readers hooked after the headline. The first sentence also plays a role in determining whether they read the rest of your content. As a result, it should capture the reader’s attention and smoothly lead them into your first point.
- Do Your Research. You must have extensive knowledge on the topic you’re writing about, especially in the B2B market. Include statistics, data and metrics to establish credibility and support your claims.
- Focus on a Single Purpose. You should identify at least one key message you’d like to convey before you create your content. Keep this in mind when writing and tie your content back to the main point as much as possible.
- Write in a Unique Voice. The content you publish is the voice of your company and it should be unique to your company’s personality. It’s important to align the tone of your writing to your target audience, business goals and brand persona.
- Optimize Digital Content. The best digital content often consists of short paragraphs, short sentences and bulleted lists. Digital content should also be optimized for search using SEO best practices and the latest SEO content strategies.
- Edit Your Work. After you have created a first draft, go back and consider how you might polish the rough edges of your writing. In most cases, writing improves as it goes through a round or two of edits—even when it has been drafted by experienced content creators.
Hyperlinks are text links to other pages on your site. The rules of SEO and hyperlinks are easy:
• Use hyperlinks so the Search Engine will have a text link to follow to the next page
• Don't use one word links, use long link phrases, preferably keyword phrases
• Use bullets, or some sort of small image that you can attach an ALT tag to, this will ad more importance to the link, and throw in a couple of free keywords for you.
Final Words: Basic Search Engine Optimization Principles
SEO is the means for improving a website's ranking in the search engines dominantly Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The more time and money a company spends on SEO, the more chance they have of being the first search result listed by Google - which is of course the ultimate goal of any website; to be easily found by their potential customers.
One of the simplest techniques is altering the text, or 'content' on a website. To do this an SEO company must first understand the website's target audience, who are they and what words do they type into Google when they are looking for whatever?
Once those keywords and phrases have been researched, your content can then be structured effectively so that it is 'optimized' and SEO friendly. It is usually best to have professional help with this, so talk to your web development company about what they would recommend. Other methods include linking, (both internal - within your own site, and external - other websites linking to yours) and implementing meta-tags, subheads, and website descriptions throughout your web pages. As a general rule with search engine optimization, 'content is king', so much of your success will depend on the quality of the content on your website.
Other important SEO principles come into play with techniques like 'Black Hat' and 'White Hat' SEO strategies. These two methods have very different principles behind them, and it helps to understand the differences before talking to a web development company about tactics for your website so you can make well-informed decisions.
Search engines cater for SEO companies to a certain extent and regularly publish ways to increase a company's search engine visibility through good design, carefully crafted content, and good internal and external linking strategies. Many SEO strategists follow these guidelines. They are known as 'White Hats' and are generally accepted to achieve more long lasting, effective results for website rankings.
'Black Hat' SEO companies use methods that search engines don't approve of or even deception to increase a website's visibility. Examples would be hiding bulk keyword rich text on your website by using a background font color or small font size. Search engines often impose penalties on Black Hat SEO companies - pushing their websites down in search result rankings and occasionally removing their sites from there databases altogether.
Be aware of these differences between Black Hat and White Hat strategies, and make sure that you entrust a reliable web design or development firm with the task of increasing your website's SEO effectiveness by using tried and tested SEO principles. You'll be amazed at how powerful the results of good search engine optimization can be for your business!.