Business owners know the importance of having a website. It's their storefront that's open 24/seven, and it needs to be designed in a way that looks good and ranks well on search engines.
Of course, you want people to visit your website because that's the entire purpose of having one: to bring people to your site and buy whatever you offer. Thus, you need to get traffic to your site, and the best way to do that is by optimizing it for search engines.
You may ask yourself, "Why should I bother?". The answer to this question is simple: because you want more customers. Search engines represent the most crucial source of new site visitors.
And since web searchers are free to use any search engines on the Web to find the products and services they need, the burden is on the search engines to come up with a fresh, fast, and relevant search experience. Conversely, website owners invest a tremendous amount of time and resources to ensure that their sites are well-designed and informative.
This fine balance between the searcher and the webmaster is what we call search engine optimization (SEO). When done correctly, SEO can help your website rank higher on search engines, which will help you get more visitors to your site.
The question is, is there a correct way to do SEO? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, there are certain best practices that you can follow to help ensure that your website is optimized for search engines.
Analyzing Ranking Factors
Before we dive into the best practices in SEO, let's analyze what goes into ranking a website. It will give you an excellent foundation to work from as you optimize your website.
Here are some of the most important ranking factors:
- Core Web Vitals
- security and accessibility
- optimized content
- domain authority, URL, and age
- page speed
- user experience
- social signals
- on-page optimization
- external links
- internal links
The list could go on, but these are some of the most crucial ranking factors. Google pays attention to all of these factors when determining where to rank a website.
That's why it's so important to have a well-rounded SEO strategy. You need to focus on these ranking factors if you want your website to rank well. Otherwise, you'll be missing out on traffic and potential customers.
If you don't get the basics right, you'll have difficulty ranking for anything. To help you lay the groundwork for your website, we've listed some of the best SEO practices below.
While Google keeps rolling out algorithm updates that aim to keep SERPS fresh, one thing remains a constant in SEO—extensive keyword research. It's the process of researching and finding keywords that are relevant to your business and your target audience.
Keyword research can reveal a lot about your target audience. It can help you understand what words and phrases they use to find information online. This knowledge can help you create more relevant and useful content for your target audience.
Additionally, keyword research can help you identify potential opportunities for ranking higher in SERPS. Once you identify the right keywords for your business, you can begin targeting them in your content. You can also use them to create targeted ad campaigns, to help you reach your target audience more effectively.
There are a few different methods that you can use to conduct keyword research. One popular method is to use Google's Keyword Planner tool. This tool allows you to enter a seed keyword and receive ideas for related keywords. You can also use this tool to get data on the average monthly search volume for specific keywords.
Another popular method is to use a keyword research tool like SEMRush. It provides insights into the keyword intent, volume, and keyword difficulty.
Five essential keywords' metrics you need to look out for include:
This metric can be used to figure out whether a keyword is gaining or losing popularity. In addition, it can help you determine whether a particular keyword is worth targeting. For example, if you see that the keyword is trending upwards, then it might be worth targeting that keyword in your content and marketing campaigns. Otherwise, you might want to focus on other keywords.
This metric tells you how many people are searching for a particular keyword each month. It can help you determine the popularity of a keyword and whether it's worth targeting.
Keyword difficulty is a metric that can be used to figure out how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword. It's measured on a scale from 1 to 100, with the higher numbers representing keywords that are harder to rank for.
Another important keyword metric is CPC. It tells you how much it costs to advertise for a particular keyword. It can help you determine the commercial potential of a keyword. If a keyword has a high CPC, people are willing to pay a lot for ads related to that keyword.
Search volume over time
This metric tells you how many people search for a particular keyword each month. It can help you determine whether a keyword is worth targeting. If the search volume is high, it means that many people are searching for that keyword. And this could be a good indication that it's worth targeting that keyword in your content and marketing campaigns.
These are just a few of the essential metrics you need to look at when conducting keyword research. By taking the time to understand these metrics, you can make better decisions about which keywords to target in your content and marketing campaigns.
Align Search Intent With Your Content
It's pretty easy and simple to take keywords for face value. However, it's important to remember that user intent plays a significant role in how people search for information online. What a person is looking for when they enter a particular keyword can vary greatly.
Search intent is the motive behind every search query. And knowing and satisfying this purpose is the ultimate priority of Google. Websites that rank high on SERPs have all passed Google's test of providing relevant and valuable content that satisfies the searcher's needs.
There are five main types of search intent:
This search intent occurs when the searcher looks for specific information on a topic. They could be researching for school, work, or just personal interests. When it is come to content, this type of query generally starts with words like “what,” “who,” “when,” and “where.”
Head keywords and long tail words also carry intent. For example, if you search for “Manchester airport directions”—the keyword local has an intention of information because users want to find a resource or information about a topic.
A navigational query is when the searcher looks for a specific website or web page. And this could be due to them previously seeing the site and wanting to go back to it, or because they heard about it from someone else and want to check it out.
Example: navigational intent keyword—“beginners guide to SEO moz” or “Progeektech website.”
A transactional query is when the searcher is looking to buy something. And this could be anything from a product to a service. They usually related to services, company, buy, Order reviews, comparison, trials and case studies.
Example: transactional intent keyword - "Buy Nike shoes online" or "Local SEO agency."
This is when the searcher is looking for something nearby. And this could be anything from a restaurant to a store to a service provider. Local searches generally include words like "near me," "close by," or "in [city]."
Example: local intent keyword - "Sushi restaurants near me" or "Los Angeles SEO companies."
This search intent is when the user is looking for a product but isn't quite ready to make a purchase. They could be doing comparison shopping or just trying to learn more about a product before buying it. Words like "reviews," "best," and "top" are often associated with this type of query.
Example: commercial intent keyword—"iPhone 11 reviews" or "Best SEO books."
Now that you know the different types of search intent, you can start to align your content with them. Say, for example, you want to rank for the keyword "best running shoes," you must realize that the intent behind this keyword is commercial. And so, your content should reflect that.
It could be a blog post comparing different running shoes or a buyer's guide to help people find the right pair of shoes for them.
Another example, let's say you want to rank for the keyword "Los Angeles restaurants." The intent behind this keyword is local. And so, your content should be focused on Los Angeles restaurants. For example, it could be a blog post about the best Los Angeles restaurants or a list of the top-rated Los Angeles restaurants.
By aligning your content with the intent behind the keyword, you're more likely to rank higher on SERPs and satisfy the searcher's needs. And that's what Google wants.
Write Compelling Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
Your meta descriptions and title tags are the most vital meta tags on your website. Both are key to convincing someone to click on your listing in the SERPs and visit your site, and both should be carefully crafted to ensure that they're doing their job properly.
Meta descriptions are brief summaries of a page in the search engine results pages. While they don't directly influence your search engine rankings, meta descriptions can impact your click-through rates.
According to Google, a meta description should interest and inform searchers with a relevant, short summary of what a page is all about. They're like a pitch that persuades users that the page is what they're looking for.
A good rule of thumb for a meta description is between 155-160 characters. Google truncates meta descriptions longer than 160. For writing your meta descriptions, be sure to:
- match the search intent
- use action-oriented copy
- write unique descriptions for each page
- include your target keywords
- provide a precise summary
Title tags appear in search results as the blue clickable headline. As per Google, title tags give searchers a quick insight into what a page is about and why it's relevant to their queries.
Be sure to make your title tags between 50-60 characters long so that they're fully displayed on the search engine results pages. When creating your title tags, be sure to:
- keep it concise and descriptive
- avoid keyword stuffing
- match the search intent
- include your target keywords
- avoid creating duplicates
Optimize Your Page Speed
If your website takes a long time to load, you'll have plenty of frustrated and unhappy users. Plus, your search rankings may drop significantly. For these reasons, optimizing your page speed is essential for the success of your website.
You can check your page speed on Google PageSpeed Insights. This free tool gives you information on your website's speed and displays recommendations on how you can boost your load time.
Or you can use SEMRush's Site Audit tool. This comprehensive website checker will analyze your site's performance and give you a report with optimization tips. An easy and quick way to boost your page speed would be to compress your images.
To compress your images, you can use a free online tool like TinyPNG. Simply upload your image, choose the level of compression you want, and download the new, smaller file. Be sure to save a copy of the original image if you need to revert back for any reason.
Other things you can do to improve your page speed include:
- reducing the number of redirects
- reducing the server response time
- deleting unnecessary plugins
- enabling browser caching
- using a content distribution network (CDN)
Create An Internal Linking Structure
Internal links are essential because they create an information hierarchy that helps users and search engines understand your content. When used correctly, internal links can increase your rankings.
An SEO best practice is to add internal links to your web pages that require a boost. Let's say, for example, that you wrote an article about fish, and you want to include a link to another article on your website about fish.
You could add the following internal link in the text of your article: "For more information on fish, please click here." And this would tell both users and search engines that the article about fish is important and worth reading.
Another example is if you have a page about dog breeds and you want to include a link to another page on your website about dog breeds, you could add the following internal link in the text of your article: "For more information on dog breeds, please click here."
By doing so, you're not only providing your readers with additional information, but you're also telling search engines that the content is important. Internal links are an essential part of any website's SEO strategy, and they should be used whenever possible.
Enhance User Experience
Google observes how users engage with your web pages. With that said, user experience is one of the most important aspects of your website that can help improve your Google search rankings.
So, how can you go about it? Well, first, you need data. Google Analytics can give you beneficial insights into how your target audience engages with your website.
Events are user interactions with your content. They can be measured independently from a screen load or a web page. This Google Analytics insight can be extremely useful, especially when you're trying to track specific user interactions on your website.
For example, you might want to track how many times users click on a certain button on your site or how long they stay on a certain page. Depending on the results, you can make changes to enhance the user experience on your website, which in turn can have a positive effect on your Google search rankings.
The Audience insights will be your main guide in understanding your target market and how they interact with your website. It's a comprehensive breakdown of your website visitors.
This data includes information such as the geographical location of your users, their language, the type of device they're using, time of most engagement, interests, etc.
Let's say, for example, you find a large part of your visitors from a certain country is leaving your site after only viewing one page. It could be an indication that the language on your website isn't suitable for that particular audience.
In that case, you can add translations or change the language of your website to match that of your target audience in order to improve user experience and keep them engaged with your site.
Additionally, age and gender data can be useful in understanding your target market. For example, if you have a website that sells products for children, it would make sense to use a playful tone and design. However, if your target market is adults, then a more serious approach would be more appropriate.
This insight measures how many times a page on your website has been loaded in a browser. It's important to track pageviews because it can give you an idea of which pages on your site are the most popular and engaging.
You can also use this data to see how long users spend on a certain page and whether they move on to other pages after viewing it. This information can be extremely useful in understanding what type of content your target audience is interested in.
For example, if you find that a lot of users are spending a long time on your "About" page, it could be an indication that they're interested in your company story. In that case, you can include more engaging content on that page, such as videos or infographics.
However, if the pageviews are higher than the conversion rates, it could be an indication that your website needs more work. And that your audience can't find the information they're looking for.
It could mean that your website is difficult to navigate or that the content on your pages isn't relevant to what your users are looking for.
In that case, you may want to change the layout of your website or the type of content you're offering.
The bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. A high bounce rate usually indicates that there's a problem with your website.
It could be that your website is challenging to navigate, the content is not relevant to what your users are looking for, or the design is not user-friendly.
If you have a high bounce rate, it's essential to take a closer look at your website and see what might be causing users to leave. Maybe your web pages' quality needs improvement, or you're not targeting the right audience.
Fixing these issues can reduce your bounce rate and keep users engaged with your site.
Focus on Making URLs Search Engines-friendly
Website owners often overlook their URL structure when it comes to SEO. It's a big and costly mistake. Your URLs are one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to SEO, so you want to make sure they're as optimized as possible.
A good URL structure provides search engines and users an idea of what the page is about. As per Google, a website's URL structure must be simple.
It should be constructed in a way that's readable and understandable. The URL must be easy to remember so that users can return to your site quickly.
Here's how you can create an SEO-friendly URL:
- avoid using stop words like "a", "an", "the", etc.
- use keywords that accurately describe the page's content
- keep it short and sweet- no more than 60 characters
- use hyphens to separate words
- include categories (eg. /blog/seo-tips/)
Get Authoritative Backlinks
Despite the several changes to Google's ranking system and search algorithm, Google still relies on backlinks as a significant factor to determine the quality and ranking of a website.
The big "G" recognizes backlinks as votes from other websites, and the more votes your website has, the more likely it is to rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, note that not all backlinks are created equal.
Some can boost your website's ranking, while others can hurt it. Google won't penalize you for poor-quality backlinks. But if you buy backlinks or join in link schemes, you might get penalized.
So, you should focus on building high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites. Here are some tips on how to get authoritative backlinks:
- Reach out to influencers and experts in your industry and ask them to mention your website in their blog posts or link to one of your blog posts in their articles.
- If you have good relationships with other businesses in your industry, you can also ask them to link to your website on their websites.
- Submit guest posts on high-authority websites and include a link back to your website in your bio or author box.
- If you have any excellent infographics or other types of visual content, submit them to infographic directories and include a link back to your website.
These are just some ways you can get authoritative backlinks to improve your website's ranking. So, start building those backlinks and see your website climb up the SERPs.
Create Valuable Content
No formula can take your content to the top of the charts every time, but some general guidelines can help. Above all else, focus on quality and user intent.
Other best practices include:
- reviewing competing content
- keeping the linking structure in mind
- gathering original data
- including visuals
- optimizing meta tags and headers
The content length depends on the topic and the audience you're writing for - there's no magic number. You'll be in good shape as long as your content matches your searchers' intent and is well-researched.
There's a correct way to do SEO. However, it depends on what your goals are. If you're a small business, you might not need to worry about the same things as a large enterprise. And if you're just starting, you might not be able to do everything at once. The important thing is to start somewhere and keep learning as you go.
SEO is an ever-changing field, so it's crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. However, don't forget the basics. You'll be off to a good start as long as you're doing that.
We are a local SEO company, and we have a team of experts. If you need help with your SEO, please reach out to us. We offer a free consultation so you can see how we can help you.