Want to get the most out of your website? This is when putting SEO best practices comes into play. Search engine optimization is a vastly important aspect for the success of any website. And ignoring this will directly impact your brand’s visibility.
And although some may think SEO is a difficult subject, I assure you many of the most important parts of it are quite easy. At least, once you get the hang of it anyway.
Why SEO is So Important in 2018?
Search engines are one of the most influential parts of the Internet. In fact, 85% of consumers will use Google for shopping and finding products.
Gone are the days of flipping through a paper phone book to find a specific business. Most people now will simply “Google It,” even to find local brick-and-mortar companies.
Without using some of the best SEO practices, your brand can easily become buried deep in search results under the competition.
Important SEO Best Practices to Implement
Search engine optimization has a lot of facets. It’s extremely difficult to do everything perfectly to become the best there is. What you should focus on is being better than the competition.
And because of the nature of the Internet, the competition is greater than ever before.
No one is perfect, but using the right strategy can give you a chance to stay ahead in the game.
So, what are the best SEO practices to put into play? Here is a list of what I consider to be some of the more prominent for success in 2018 and beyond.
1. Know Your Audience
Implementing SEO best practices or techniques often involves paying close attention to your audience. You’re creating content specifically to engage them. After all, it’s these people who buy your products or services.
One of my favorite sayings is “You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time.” This means not everyone is going to like your content, and that’s OK. It’s your target audience you want to connect with anyway.
It’s the people who are willing to buy your goods or use your services you want to worry about.
But what if you don’t know your demographic?
A couple good ways to find out include:
- Using Google Analytics
Google Analytics has a plethora of tools for determining who is visiting your site and what they want to see. It’s a free service and one of the most widely used analytical platforms on the Internet. It even tracks advertising campaigns and eCommerce.
- Surveying Visitors
You have access to a lot of survey apps, especially if you use systems like WordPress. You can directly ask your patrons what they find most appealing, what they want more of and any other demographic data you can think of.
2. Go Beyond Keywords
Keywords will always be important when it comes to SEO. You don’t want a list of fish websites if you’re looking specifically for chicken recipes, right?
However, today’s strategy needs to go beyond finding optimal keywords for your content and advertising. You also need to consider search intent. In other words, you need to know what it is people are actually looking for.
Don’t get me wrong, using tools like AdWords Planner is still key to creating good content. However, you need to include semantics regarding the topic.
For example, let’s say you were looking for the best places to go fishing in Idaho. Would you simply use “best places to fish” or would you include “Idaho” to narrow the search?
One of the best SEO practices to put into place is using variations of long-tail keywords regarding the topic. It’s like exploring how people are searching for specific information.
In reality, long-tail keywords have a much higher conversion rate in terms of SEO for this very reason.
3. Fine-Tune Meta Titles and Descriptions
Meta tags have always played a role in SEO. However, less importance is put in the “keyword” tag and more into title and descriptions. In reality, these two components are often what people see in search results.
Search for any company in Google. Look at the title and the description of the link in the results page. Chances are you’re looking at the meta title and description of the web page.
Not only it is important to fine-tune meta tags for human visitors, but it also tells search engines what your page is about.
Structure your pieces with catchy titles and informative descriptions. This helps attract human clicks and helps sites like Google understand what your brand is all about.
Some experts will even put long-tail semantic keywords in the meta description to further engage search engines.
4. Emphasize the Mobile Experience
Mobile devices make up for about 51.2% of all online traffic. This means roughly half of your visitors are viewing the page from smartphones and tablets. This is why it’s vastly important to consider responsive designs.
Mobile engagement is so important that Google uses it as a search metric. This means that if you don’t have a mobile-friendly design, you won’t appear as high in search results.
The layout of your site isn’t the only aspect to consider, either. Optimizing for voice search is also vastly important to online success. About 46% of consumers use voice search every day to find local businesses.
Use things like shorter sentences and paragraphs to make reading easier on smaller screens. Touchable buttons improve the user experience, and making the typography easy to read on a 5-inch screen improves visitor engagement.
Coincidentally, optimizing for mobile usually contributes to optimizing for desktop simultaneously. Things like image size, layout and site speed benefit all users of your site.
5. Understand the Power of SSL
Converting your site from HTTP to HTTPS is profoundly important to SEO practices. Not only is it good to protect the visitor, but it also contributes to how search engines view your site.
By installing an SSL certificate, you demonstrate to search engines that safety is a concern. This improves the visibility of your site.
Try this experiment: search for anything you want in Google. There is a good chance that nearly every result of the top three pages are using HTTPS websites. Only the most profound HTTP sites remain in most of these searches.
Even web browsers are starting to inform visitors whether a site is secure or not. Chrome will label an address as being “Secure” if the SSL is detected. This improves user trust as well as brand reputation.
In reality, I’ve seen the smallest of blogs generate more than 270% increased traffic and 545% increased ad revenue just by adding the SSL certificate.
6. Use Backlinks for Them and Yourself
Backlinks are an important part of SEO practices as they help solidify authority. These tell search engines that people trust your content and vote for your pages as being of value to people.
Think of it like a popularity contest. The more backlinks you have, the better. However, search engines are wrangling in this process. Instead of just using any backlink, it needs to come from a relevant source.
Another facet of backlinks is to hand them out as well. When you cite your work with links, you’re letting search engines know that your content is based on facts and not just pulling information out of thin air.
For example, I have several links on this page pointing to authoritative websites referring to statistics. This helps both human and bot visitors know that I am referencing information and not just making it up as I go.
In a world where fake news is the norm, it’s important now more than ever to support your claims.
7. Internally Link Your Content
Backlinks are not the only connections you should worry about. Internally linking your content is almost as important as it tells search engines what content you value the most.
But like backlinks, your internal connections need to be relevant to one another. When creating an internal link, ask yourself, “Does this link support the current topic?”
An internal link should be viewed as a way to expand what you’re currently writing about. It’s like providing additional information the reader may find useful to help expand his or her knowledge of the topic.
When creating these, it’s important to not over do it. There is such a thing as saturating your content with links to the point where it hurts SEO. If you need more links to a specific post on your site, create more expansive articles to connect it.
These integrations need to make sense from a reader’s perspective. If it’s confusing to a human, it’s going to be confusing to a search engine bot. And that will cause problems from the perspective of SEO.
8. Add Depth to Your Content
A lot of people wonder about the best length for website content. Does it matter how long a post is? Yes. However, this isn’t entirely the end of the discussion.
Many experts believe that the ideal post on a website should be around 2100 words. This is based on averages among the top performing posts for many keywords. The thing you need to remember most is your industry and writing style will affect the perfect length.
I’ve seen articles in the top 3 positions of Google with less than 1300 words. These are filled with information, well-written and offer incredible value to the reader.
It’s not necessarily how long a piece is when creating the perfect post. It’s about the information you deliver and if you can engage the audience.
In reality, you want visitors to walk away fulfilled and satisfied you have answered their questions. Keep an eye on your site’s data and let your target audience show you the articles they find the most attractive.
9. Make Content Readable
A crucial component to the best SEO practices is making sure your content is readable. This plays a part in voice search as it is language that engages the audience.
According to experts, the average person in the US reads at an 8th grade reading level. If you want to engage the most people possible, you need to address your literary tactics.
Not only does writing in this fashion make it easier to read by humans, it also contributes to SEO. It’s the average literacy skills that play the biggest part of search ranking.
It’s what the people are looking for in terms of finding information.
If you’re ever in any doubt, try this. Read your content aloud to yourself. Is it something you would actually say or would it be confusing?
Shorter sentences, slimmer paragraphs and using headers to separate vital points all play into making content easier to read. If you use WordPress, I suggest Yoast SEO. It comes built with a readability checker.
10. Don’t Forget Media
Websites with images receive 94% more viewership than those with just text. This means SEO best practices often include adding graphics. It makes the content more appealing to view, adds more meaning behind a post and is more engaging.
But it doesn’t stop there. Adding video content also boosts visibility. As many as 54% of marketers increased brand awareness by producing video content.
And thanks to systems like YouTube, it is ultra-easy to embed your video content directly into a web page.
Consider how consumers are four times more likely to prefer video content over text. In other words, shoppers would rather watch a review of your product or service instead of reading about it.
The most important thing is to make sure the meta tag information is optimal for search engines. Things like the ALT and description tag for videos and images tell search engines what the media is about. This contributes to understanding the content.
Never Assume it’s Good Enough
The key to succeeding in SEO is to keep an eye on statistics and performance. Don’t think you’re using the best keywords and expect to be in the top position.
Following trends, analyzing the competition and making changes all contributes to being successful on the Internet. Always adapt your strategy to fit the times. Some of the best practices for SEO simply include paying attention to results.