You seem to have your business’s online marketing and promotion down to a T. You’re sending email newsletters to subscribers with product information. You have a well-designed website where you are posting blog content, FAQs, and other helpful information about your business. You also have an active social presence. So, why aren’t you seeing more rewards for your efforts?
Well, have you geared your content for search engine optimization (SEO)?
SEO is essentially the practice of writing and optimizing your website and any content therein so that search engines are more likely to rank it higher than competing content on similar topics. When someone searches a particular topic, they are much more likely to click a link that appears on the first page of results as opposed to the fifth. You want to try to ensure your business’s content appears on this first page as much as possible to help ensure that yours is the link that searchers choose.
So, how does one go about writing SEO-enhanced content? What are some things that can be done to give your content a leg up and a higher search engine ranking? Here are some of the best SEO practices to get you started.
Choose a keyword and stick with it
Keywords and keyword phrases are the backbone of search engine optimization and perhaps one of the best SEO practices we can recommend. Before you start writing your content, you should choose a keyword or phrase to base the content around. Think of it as your topic word or phrase.
Consider using an online SEO tool to help with the selection of a keyword or phrase. These tools can help determine how popular the keyword is (how often people are actually using it in their searches) as well as how easy it will be to rank highly on a particular search engine.
Once you have a keyword or keyword phrase to base your piece of content around, stick with it.
Using the keyword once throughout the entirety of the content will defeat the purpose of the keyword. Depending on the length of the content you want to ensure you use the keyword at least several times – the longer the piece, the more you want to try and use it to help increase the keyword density ratio. On the other hand, make sure you don’t overuse the keyword either; you want to find that perfect sweet spot.
Don’t use the keyword just for the sake of increasing your density; make sure to use it as organically as possible within the content and only when it makes sense.
Use headers and sub-headers and tag them accordingly
In the same vein as not simply plugging your keyword into the content wherever you can, you want to be sure your content itself is easy to read and flows naturally. It shouldn’t feel fragmented or too verbose. Visitors want to be able to quickly scan an article or blog quickly to see if it contains the information they are looking for.
To aid with readability and flow, another one of the best SEO practices we can offer is the use of headers and sub-headers. When you use headers throughout your content whenever you are changing over to a new topic, this helps guide readers’ eyes and tells them where to look to see if they’ll find the answers to their questions.
Now, to get into some more technical aspects of SEO. When you are separating your content into sections using headers and sub-headers, be sure to remember to tag them as headers in your HTML. Ensuring your headers are properly tagged with <H1>, <H2>, etc., this helps search engines index your content and decide where it ranks.
These tags are especially beneficial when you use your keyword or phrase in one of these headers. Search engines tend to look at the headers of an article before the rest of the content, so it's definitely one of the best SEO practices to use your keyword in at least one of your piece’s headers.
Include a meta description
Before a searcher even clicks on a link on a search engine results page, they are looking at the titles of the results as well as the little descriptions that appear below these titles to determine whether they want to click on a link or not. These descriptions are known as your content’s meta descriptions and act as short summaries of the content.
The search engine will automatically pull a meta description to show on the results page if one is not manually defined. However, in order to control what readers see when your link appears to them on the results page, best SEO practices say to set this meta description yourself. By setting your own meta description for an article, you can ensure that your keyword is included in it, meaning that it will be highlighted on the results page as well.
It is important that the meta description provides readers with relevant information about what they will read in your content in order to entice them to click on your link. They won’t take kindly if they click on your link and the article bears no resemblance to what you put in your meta description. And neither will the search engine. You can be consistent and honest while still focusing on and improving your SEO.
Add images and make sure they have alt tags
As they say: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
While the text itself is obviously the most important part of a piece of content, don’t forget to pay attention to any images you may have included in the content. Like headers and sub-headers, images are where a reader’s eyes are naturally inclined to look. They are another way to break up your text and improve readability and flow.
If you do add images to your content, you should make sure they include alt tags. Alt tags are essentially a way to add a text alternative to the image so that if someone couldn’t see the image for whatever reason, they would still have some idea as to what it was. Alt tags are added in the HTML of your content and are another important SEO practice, as search engines will favor content that has them and tend to rank them higher on the results page.
Alt tags are another way to help with your keyword optimization. If you have a featured image included in your content, be sure to include your chosen keyword or keyword phrase in the alt tag for the image. This will further help a search engine index the content and rank it accordingly.
Which of the best SEO practices should you use?
Like we said at the top of the blog, it all comes back to keywords and keyword phrases, although each of these practices can go a long way to optimizing your content and improving your search ranking position.
By ensuring your content is optimized for search engines it helps it, and therefore your business, to be more visible to prospective customers when they are either casually Googling a subject or actively researching a potential purchase. You want to be sure that your business is front and center, and SEO is just one way to help you achieve this.
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