Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to appear higher in search rankings and consequently boost organic traffic. With so many ways to optimize your organic ranking, SEO can easily get overwhelming. That’s why we’re giving you a general overview of SEO best practices right here in this post.
Keep reading to learn why SEO is important, the three pillars of SEO, current trends we’re seeing, and general tips.
Why Are SEO Best Practices Important?
Following SEO best practices can make a huge difference in your website’s traffic, especially if you rely heavily on organic traffic (which comes from visitors who reach your website through a search engine like Google, as long as it’s not a paid ad).
More traffic means more potential customers and more potential revenue.
Good SEO can also help you increase brand awareness since it increases the chances of consumers seeing your brand in their search results. And while SEO may take more time to employ than paid search campaigns, it costs a lot less – and of all successful searches, SEO receives 94% of clicks, while PPC only receives 6%.
If you’re looking to gain more traffic, SEO is going to be your friend.
A holistic SEO strategy can also help you reach audiences at all stages of the buying cycle. While some searchers are looking for categories of products (for example, “electric guitars”), many are looking for the specific products or services you provide (for example, “Gibson Les Paul Standard electric guitar in cherry sunburst finish”).
Appearing among the top search results for queries across all stages of the buying cycle means you’ll see a better return because clicks to your site will be more intentional and relevant.
Three Pillars of SEO
You can picture SEO as being made up of three pillars:
In SEO, content has to do with every written thing you publish on your website – both how you write it and how it’s structured.
The content you create should focus on keywords that your target audience is searching for. If you create content based on what you already know your audience wants to read, you’re more likely to be found by them.
Long-tail keywords are typically easier to rank for since they’re often less competitive. Choosing more specific terms will also help you reach customers who are more likely to be interested in your brand.
For example, if you’re creating content about a pair of sneakers, only using the keyword “sneakers” is less likely to bring you traffic. Instead, you could try a longer, more specific keyword like “women’s basketball sneakers” or “men’s trail running sneakers,” which have fewer searches but less competition in the search results.
Any content you add to your site should aim to provide genuine value to the reader. Even if a visitor doesn’t immediately make a purchase, high-quality content generates more awareness and respect for your brand.
Good content also increases the chances of your website getting backlinks. This simply means other websites link to your content because they find it valuable, relevant, and/or timely.
While a great website often attracts backlinks naturally, link authority is the process of intentionally creating specific content that provides enough value that it “earns” backlinks from other sites.
Backlinks tell search engines that other people have found the content on your website to be valuable – kind of like a “vote” in favor of your site. And if Google sees your website as more valuable, you’re more likely to be seen as an authority and are more likely to rank higher in search results.
Google places a lot of importance on the acronym E-E-A-T: experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. If you generate lots of links to your site from reputable sources, then you’re likely showing at least the authoritativeness and trustworthiness qualities.
And remember: Getting backlinks starts with having good content that people want to share. It’s all connected!
The final pillar of SEO is technical, which involves:
- Optimizing the structure of your website
- Monitoring Google’s algorithm to ensure users and search engines can find your site to crawl and index it
Technical SEO won’t impact whether Google’s algorithm ranks you higher or lower, but it will impact the algorithm’s ability to find and crawl your website.
Some aspects of technical SEO are:
- Crawl signals
- Site speed
- Structured data markup
- Meta tags
Technical SEO is the foundation that good authoritative content should be built upon. Making sure that your site is optimized for the technical side of things will make ranking for content and building authority significantly easier!
7 SEO Best Practices to Focus On
There are many best practices to focus on when implementing SEO. Here are some of the most important ones.
1. Crawl Accessibility
First and foremost, you want to ensure that search engine bots can crawl your website so they can find your content and add it it to their search results pages.
A comprehensive site architecture audit will uncover crawl errors, but some of the main areas to review include:
- The robots.txt file. Use this file to tell search engines which pages it shouldn’t crawl, like login pages or thank you pages
- The XML sitemap. You should list only your core pages within this file; you’ll want to remove any redirected or 40X/50X error pages.
- The use of robots meta tags throughout your site. These directives instruct search engine crawlers on whether they should index a page or follow links from a page.
When content is supported with graphics, Google’s algorithm is more likely to see it as a valuable resource – especially if it’s well-optimized.
A picture is worth a thousand words!
Be sure to intersperse your content with imagery where it’s relevant and think of new ways to present your written content as graphics.
3. Alt Tags
Giving the images on your website alt tags means providing additional information about it in case the user is unable to view it.
This could happen if images are blocked by browser or company security protocols or if a user is using a screen reader, for example.
Alt tags should accurately reflect what the image shows and, if relevant, contain your keyword(s).
4. Authoritative Content
Create data-driven content that provides value to your market and targeted contacts. When brainstorming content ideas that could be link-worthy, try to create content that is unique, engaging, and influencer-targeted.
5. Keyword Research
Keyword research is crucial to determine what content you should write about because it’s what your audience is searching for. Conduct keyword research to know what kind of content you should publish on your website.
6. Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is content that is always going to be relevant and isn’t based on timeliness. It’s more likely to see return traffic over an extended period, as it’s always going to be a reliable resource for users.
7. Meta Descriptions
The meta description is the snippet of text, typically 150-160 characters, that shows up in a search result.
While meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, they do affect click-through rates, so it’s important that they entice the user to click on your result rather than a competitors’.
Be sure to include any relevant keywords and give a synopsis of what the reader will see when they click on your link. If there is room, including an offer like “free shipping” in the meta description can also help boost click-through rates.
Tying It All Together: SEO Best Practices
The SEO landscape never stops evolving. If you feel like it’s a lot to keep up with, there’s a reason for that.
As a marketing leader, your plate is already likely full – and adding staying up-to-date with SEO best practices to the mix would likely overflow it.
Let us be your trusted guide to organic growth. To discover the untapped opportunities your brand could discover with a strategic SEO team, send a message to our experts today.
If you want to further shape up your SEO skillset, explore some of our resources below:
- Google Algorithm Updates: History & Latest Changes
- Does SEO Still Work in a Recession?
- Using AI for SEO
- Google E-E-A-T: Optimizing Your Site for the Search Quality Rater Guidelines
- 13 Ways to Harness Email Marketing to Boost Your Social Media & SEO