SEO best practices are a set of tasks designed to help one develop a better search presence and improve a website’s search engine rankings.
- Develop content based on target keyword research
- Use effective titles and headings
- Write strong meta descriptions
- Optimize all images
- Include a number of internal links
- Provide a user-friendly design (on desktop & mobile)
- Optimize page speed
- Make use of navigation and sitemaps
- Lean into semantic HTML
According to recent research by HubSpot, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
Develop content based on target keyword research
- Primary keywords – High-level keywords that serve as the main topic
- Secondary keywords – Used often in subheadings in articles and pillar pages
- Supporting language – lower-level-keywords used throughout text
- A webpage generally needs a minimum of 300 words for SEO purposes. A landing page needs to be optimized for certain keywords in order for search engines to find it, and these words need to be naturally incorporated into the copy so that it reads well.
Use effective titles and headings
- Though the terms may be interchangeable to most people, titles and headings are distinctly different and occupy different parts of the web page code.
- Title is placed in each HTML document and serves as a container for the web page metadata
- Title <title> tells search engines what the page is about at the very highest level and shown on then Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
- Well-constructed titles do two important things:
- Include the primary keyword you’re trying to rank for
- Make people want to click or read the content
- While Google does not specify a recommended length for title tags, most desktop and mobile browsers are able to display the first 50–60 characters.
- There’s no exact character limit because characters can vary in pixel width.
- Google’s spiders will take into account the entire title tag, within reason, when they crawl the page, even if it is not displayed in full in the SERPs.
- Headings <h1> to <h6> are part of the code that creates the part of the page that users see.
- Include secondary keywords
- Because headings provide Google with a better idea of what the page is about as well as the page structure, they are heavily weighted.
Write strong meta descriptions
- The meta description tag defines the block of text that shows up after the content title in the SERPs
- This text explains what information that content provides
- Keep in mind that Google frequently rewrites meta descriptions after analyzing user intent
- Meta description is not used in the search rankings algorithm; however, the site’s click-through rate from the search results is.
- Meta descriptions can technically be any length, but Google generally truncates snippets to ~155-160 characters. It’s best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive.
- Keep in mind that the “optimal” length will vary depending on the situation, and the primary goal should be to provide value and drive clicks.
Optimize all images
- Create images to look as good as possible at the smallest size possible. Image file sizes can be up to 2mb if using an image optimization plugin on the website.
- Image size impacts page load speeds.
- Because Google considers the user experience in its search ranking algorithm, if the page loads slowly but a competitor’s page that contains the same information loads quickly, especially on mobile, Google is going to give the faster page to users first.
- Alt text is used to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page.
- Alt text provides better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.
- Adding alt text to photos is a principle of web accessibility.
Include a number of internal links
- Link whenever it’s appropriate, but always include a few internal links to relevant pieces of content.
- Link with intention and keep search in mind, especially when choosing anchor text.
- Rule of thumb, the number of links to include should be based on the length of the content.
Provide a user-friendly design (on desktop and mobile)
- Design is frequently left out of internal discussions around improving search engine rankings – but it shouldn’t be.
- Google wants users to easily find what they’re looking for when they land on a page, no matter what device they use.
- When developing the website, keep the user in mind. Note, the mobile experience matters a lot for ranking purposes.
Optimize page speed
- The <head> section of each HTML document loads before the visible portion of a particular page does and should be as lean as possible.
- Use Google’s Lighthouse testing tool to show what is slowing down load time.
- Make sure CSS are tidy, up to date, and constructed as efficiently as possible.
- Minify CSS and JS whenever possible.
- Use lazy loading so that less search-critical content (images and video) render after the page text.
Make use of navigation and sitemaps
- Link to the biggest pillar pages from top navigation.
- Use terms that are relevant and recognizable to the searcher.
- Sitemaps are XML files that tell Google what’s on the site.
- Make sure sitemaps are clearly laid out.
- Submit sitemaps to Google through Google Search Console
Lean into semantic HTML
- Semantic HTML tells Google what it’s crawling and looking at, and header tags are one of the biggest parts.
- Semantic HTML reveals the structure of a page – how the content is laid out and what primary and secondary topics are included.
- i. It doesn’t only show Google what the concept is, but what the text is in relation to the rest of the text.
- There is a specific, linguistic difference to Google about how aspects of your text function.