November 17, 2021
If your website does not rank in Google's top 10 results for your target keywords, it is essentially invisible. The hard truth, according to Hubspot, is that most people never get past the first page of their search results. You need to ensure you are following SEO best practices to get yourself to the top of the search results and improve website traffic. Sound like a herculean task? It’s not all that difficult if you follow these steps.
Understand What Searchers Are Looking for—and Plan Your Content Accordingly
There are four common means of search intent:
Good SEO practice is to always keep the search intent in mind as you populate your website with content. Say you want to rank for the keywords “best manual treadmills,” you need to realize that the search intent here is not transactional because the user is still undecided on which treadmill brand they will choose. This is commercial search intent. So you could create a blog post or video of a list of the best treadmills; you don’t want to create a product or eCommerce page for this search.
Pay Attention to Your Images
The speed of your site is an important ranking signal to Google, and images have an impact on overall page size. Be sure to optimize images for speed so you can improve the performance of your site. The first step in doing this is to ensure you have the right file format. There are three general formats:
JPEG and PNG are the most common types of image files people use online. Both of these formats use different compression techniques, and this contributes to quite a difference in the size of the file. WebP images can be as much as 34 percent smaller than comparable images.
If you dump large images on your website without compressing them, it will take your page longer to load. You want to avoid this. There are several tools available that can help you compress your images. These include:
Even though Google has the ability to understand what an image is, you still need to add alt text to your images. This improves the accessibility of your site and aids browsers in having a better understanding of the images on your site. Make sure the alt text is useful—and don’t forget to use keywords appropriately. Do this without stuffing your target keywords.
Use Internal Links Throughout Your Site
Internal links are crucial for a couple of reasons: They help to establish a hierarchy of information for your website, and they enable Google to better understand your content. Using internal links can greatly boost your rankings all on their own—as long as you use them the right way. One of the best things you can do is to add internal links from top-ranking pages on your site to other pages on the site that might need a boost.
Write Good Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
The title tag is the clickable headline that shows up in search results. These are important because they give viewers immediate insight into what the content will be on that page. So be thoughtful about your title tags so that they match user search intent and include your target keywords (but as always, do not give in to the temptation of keyword stuffing). Try to avoid creating duplicates of title tags.
The meta descriptions don’t necessarily impact search ranking, but they can improve your click-through rates. Keep in mind that only 160 characters will show up on the page, so try to keep your meta descriptions within that length. Every one of your website pages should have a unique meta description. Other things to keep in mind are to use action-oriented copy and include your target keywords.
Make Sure Your Site Provides a Good User Experience
One of the areas Google watches in terms of ranking sites is how users behave once they are on your site. This is called “user experience,” and the longer users stay on your site, the better.
Page speed is a critical aspect of a good user experience, so make sure your pages load quickly (as mentioned previously). Use plenty of subheadings in your content; this helps users (and Google!) better understand your message. It also makes the content more accessible to readers. Use images and videos to make your content visually appealing. Don’t forget about having some white space.
A word about popups: If you use them, make sure they are not too intrusive. If you absolutely must use them, do so sparingly. Google will penalize sites that have too many intrusive popups.
Use Keywords in Your URL
Having a well-structured URL is often overlooked when discussing good SEO practices. A good web address tells both users and search engines what a page is about. Keep it as simple as possible and easy to read; avoid using numbers or other identifiers. The shorter the URL, the better.