Website SEO: Don’t Forget the Basics
Website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the best ways to have your organization’s content discovered. Any marketing plan should include the basics of SEO. For more advanced SEO, engage a consultant to take it to the next level.
When I started blogging in early 2014, I read about the basics of SEO. Since then, I have been able to regularly show up in the top 10 search results for my target keywords using these techniques. Keep in mind, part of the success of any website SEO program will be to follow these basic steps and incorporate it into a greater marketing plan. Mine includes regular blog writing (the search engines and my readers prefer once per week), assessing my content on a regular basis, and keeping current on changes.
Here are 7 tips, plus a bonus, for getting the basics of Website SEO correct:
1. Length of Content
According to the best practices in 2015, it is important to write your content with 500 – 1200 words on the page. A minimum of 300 words is recommended. Your content should also be written for the medium by using headlines, subheads, lists, and no more than 2-3 sentences per paragraph.
Understanding how keywords play in to search engine optimization is important. You can use many resources to find keywords for your strategy, but one of the best is the free resource Google offers as part of their Adwords tool.
- Use your selected keywords in about 2.5 percent of your blog post.
- Use your selected keywords in the title of the page.
- Use your selected keywords in the first headline and use the H1 tag to format.
3. Rich Media and Links
Another way to improve SEO is to use a photo in your post with your keyword in the alternate title. By using the keyword in the “ALT” tag, Google rewards you higher ranking and also allows your image to be discoverable within the Google Image Search.
Be sure to also use video and other rich media within your pages with similar tagging. Videos posted to YouTube with keywords also aid in discovery.
Hyperlinks and backlinks have been website seo strategies for years. It is important to have at least one hyperlink within your page. Promoting your content in social media helps establish backlinks to the website.
4. Meta Data
While there is often a debate about using the meta data within a website, it is clear that Google uses the meta description tag to generate the annotation found in the search results. They also reward higher ranking based upon the selected keywords showing up in that description.
Be sure to also use external tools (see below) to submit your sitemap to the search engines. That will also improve your site’s rankings.
5. External Tools
There are several external tools to use when improving your websites seo. Here are a few to get today:
- Google Webmaster Tools
Google’s free tool to assist with understanding the health of your website. It will show any errors that Google’s robot found while indexing your site and suggestions on how to improve your overall ranking.
- Yoast SEO for WordPress
Joost de Valk is a website developer and SEO expert. He and his team at Yoast in the Netherlands have developed several WordPress plugins that assist with website SEO and other elements. I have found his tools valuable to understanding and getting the basics right. If you use WordPress, this should be your first plugin you install. They also have a Drupal version.
MOZ is a software company offering tools for websites search marketing improvements. If you are not using WordPress, this would be an excellent resource. Even if you are using WordPress, the MOZ tools can add to the depth of your SEO marketing.
6. Social Media
While social media has to be part of your overall marketing and content plan, one area that is often overlooked is the importance of using Google+ as a social media channel. While the platform did not get the love that was anticipated, it is still used by Google to determine SEO. So I encourage my clients to post to Google+ for the Google Robots.
While not as important as it once was, it is very important to make sure your site is submitted to the search engines. Take 5 minutes to make sure your site is listed and submit every new micro sites as you complete them. Typically the Google spiders will find your sites from links that they follow, but it is important to be thorough. Also be sure to set up a free Google Local Business account and get it verified and post your official photos and information as this is often information that will be presented in addition to your website should someone search on your organization’s name.
Bonus: Stay Up To Date
(The plugin I am currently using) offers some really good ebooks. I have read a few of them and they cover the basics and one is written from a WordPress perspective:
Good blogs to read to get up to speed:
Search Engine Optimization for Dummies (this is a fairly new updated, September 2015)
SEO Guide for 2016 (I trust this author)