Many online business people will always tell you the most important factor to their growth online is traffic to their site, and then proceed to ask the industry experts the same question they’ve heard many a times. I need SEO help for my website? When it comes to producing content for the web, checking that every page is search engine optimised is vital to getting on the first page. Doing so is less time-consuming than you’d think and can do wonders for your online reach.
This article summarizes eight key points to remember, with the intention that you can use this as a checklist for every blog post or webpage you produce. If you’re new to SEO and would like to learn more about the general concept and why these eight points are important, I recommend you read the incredibly well-written and free Beginner’s Guide to SEO by SEOmoz first.
1) Use Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Did you know Google AdWords provides a free keyword research tool that’s free for anyone to use? That’s right: you can use it whether you are signed up to AdWords or not. This is a fantastic resource for finding out what people are searching for – it even tells you which keywords are most competitive. This YouTube video by Jason McDonald shows how to use it.
2) Repeat keywords (but not too much!)
Once you’ve discovered which keywords are best for your business, try to tailor your content accordingly. This means writing on the topics people are searching for and repeating the keyword several times throughout your article. And don’t get too clever with synonyms – while your English teacher would have praised you for it, your thesaurus has no place in SEO! “Light providing device” as an alternative for “lamp” is no good when plain and simple “lamp” is what the vast majority of people would search for.
It’s also crucial not to repeat your keywords too much. This is called ‘keyword stuffing’ and is not looked upon favourably by search engines. As a rough guide, two-three times for every 400 words is about right.
3) Title your pages carefully
The <title> tag is very important for SEO. The content within this tag dictates what you see at the very top of your browser. Search engines look here when they are trying to find pages relevant to a user’s search query, plus this information is displayed to users on search results pages. Rather than using your site’s name as the title for all pages, give each blog post or page a unique title that accurately describes the content. Keep it brief and avoid keyword stuffing, but do include a keyword near the beginning of the phrase if you can.
4) Tempt potential visitors with a meta description
Give a more detailed description of your content by providing a meta description While this is not believed to have a direct impact on a page’s ranking, it is still worth doing because it is shown beneath the title on search engine results pages. By default, Google shows a snippet of the page content, but writing a meta description enables you to control this field (note: having said this, in some cases Google will not show your chosen description). Again, include keywords within this, as Google and other search engines will bold up anything that matches the user’s search query. When users often only skim-read search results pages, bold words can be a significant help in improving your page’s click-through rate.
5) Remember to fill in the alt attribute
Hover your cursor over the image above. See that text that pops up? That’s dictated by the alt attribute in the <image /> tag. This is read by search engines and helps them figure out what the image is of, so it is vital that you fill it in with a clear and accurate description. The HTML will look something like: <img src=”green apple.jpg” alt=”Green apple” />. Try to use a keyword here if relevant.
6) Friendly URL structures are preferred
Descriptive and relevant URL structures make it easier for search engines to crawl your site. Generic terms like “page1.html” or “blogpost1” are big no-nos.
Remember that URLs are displayed on search results pages too, so keep them friendly. Lowercase tends to be preferred and it helpful to separate words with hyphens to make phrases easier to read. Generally, people are less likely to click a link if it’s difficult to tell what content it leads to.
7) Add a few strong links
Linking to related content from your site helps both users and search engines find their way around. It’s worth adding the occasional link to external sites too, provided they are to relevant and authoritative sources. You never know, they might return the favour by linking back to you – and inbound links are a major boost to your SEO!
8) Don’t bury important content inside rich media or images