1. URL structure
This is the most important technical thing that you can do to make sure your page is set up to rank well in search engines. If your URL is just a bunch of random numbers and letters, Google will have no initial clue what your page is about. Instead, make sure your page title is clearly legible in your URL, including (this is VERY important) your target keyword. It’s also important to note that the first 3-5 words are considered the most important.
Here’s an example of what a bad URL would look like. Would you know what this page was about just by looking at it?
Here’s an example of a good URL.
2. Optimize title and description tags
After the URL, the “title tag” is absolutely the most important SEO factor. The title tag is the first thing you see representing a page when you search for something in a search engine, along with the URL and the description tag. The title tag is also what’s in a website’s browser tab at the top.
The keyword of your web page is all important here, and the closer you put it to the start of the title tag, the better. In general, the closer the keyword is to the beginning of the title tag, the more weight it has with search engines. This is how search engines know what your page is about. With a good title tag, search engines are more likely to recommend your page if someone is searching for that topic. Be sure to use “modifiers” such as “great”, “review” or “2016” to help you compete with other sites who are targeting the same keywords.
Moz, a search engine thought leader, has a lot more information on title tags here:
The description tag, or meta description, will support your title tag by adding a bit more detail about what the topic of the web page. Include your keywords here as well, and feel free to write the description from a marketing perspective. The goal is to use your description tag to convince people to choose your website over another one, increasing clicks, and, thus, your search engine ranking over time.
3. Optimize content on page
The title tag is for google, the “headline tag” is for your users first, Google second. It’s the top and biggest font on the page.
The headline of your page should be wrapped in the actual “headline tag”, H1. It looks like this:
<h1>This is an example website title</h1>.
Be sure to include your keyword in at least one secondary headline (h2) down the page, too.
Next, make sure your keyword appears in the first 100-150 words of your page. Don’t ramble on too much off topic with your intro ;). Second, it’s important that article pages in particular have A LOT of content. Google prioritizes longer content because it has a greater chance of being authoritative and covering more aspects of the topic someone is searching for. Try to get to 750 words for the home page, about page and your services or products. This shouldn’t be too hard. Aim for 1900 words.
4. Use multimedia
One of the most important “metrics” for SEO is your bounce rate. Think about it. If Google sees that people are going to your page and then quickly leaving, it tells them that your website probably isn’t that authoritative. Number one, make sure you include good copy on page that is thoughtful, accurate and authoritative. After that, images and videos can really help boost “dwell time”. They break up content and make your content more digestible. They help paint the picture in the reader’s mind of what you’re trying to say.
Pro tip: Don’t be lazy with alt-tags. Alt-tags are the title tags of your images. They tell search engines what your image is about. You’d be surprised how many people can find your website through Google’s image search.
5. Optimized for mobile
As of August, 2016, nearly 60% of Google searches were performed via a smartphone or tablet. That’s HUGE. Google has taken this very seriously, and has started penalizing websites that don’t support tablet or mobile viewing. The good news is that responsive coding has exploding alongside mobile trends, and it’s now easier than ever to have a mobile friendly website. To check if your website is responsive, simply take a look at it on your phone or slide your browser window to be very narrow. Google also has an easy to use mobile-friendly test.
The golden nugget of SEO. The single biggest influencer that can take your web page from a nobody to Cinderella. Google considers you HIGHLY relevant if a lot of people are linking to your website from theirs. It’s the clearest way for them to know that you are an authority on a particular subject. Getting incoming links from other websites is hard to do the right way, but I’ll give you some tips below. Before that, there are a few other things that you can do to boost your link strategy.
Outbound Links: This is a big one and one of the easiest fixes that people make to improve an article’s performance over time. It shows Google that you are a hotbed for authoritative content, but be sure to link to quality websites as it will reflect on yours.
2-4x outbound links per 1000 words. That’s a good rule of thumb for most sites.
Keep in mind that the sites you link out to reflect on you. So make sure to link out to authority sites whenever possible.
Internal links: Linking to your own content is a very simple way to keep visitors on your site and boost page views of other articles. Use 2-3 in every post.
Inbound links and how to get them: As mentioned, inbound links (links to your page from other websites) is a huge indicator for Google that you’re authoritative.
- Post good content! Nobody is going to share or link to your article if it isn’t truly great.
- Get to know influencers in your industry by posting in groups, engaging with them on twitter or other channels. Building these relationships can pay off down the road.
- Reach out to influencers (once you have a relationship with them) or other websites in your industry to see if they will share your content with their readers. You can offer to do the same.
- Guest post. Other business owners have just as little time as you do, and would probably be delighted to have someone write an article for them. Make sure you agree to linking
XML SiteMap – A sitemap helps search engine to index all pages on your site. It is the simplest and most efficient way to tell Google what pages your website includes.
Blog strategy – The only way people are going to find you is if you’re sharing valuable and relevant content. Google also will take notice as they prioritize new and updated pages.
Social sharing – Making something viral, or just getting it front of more eye balls is more common sense than hacking the system. Make sure your articles have links to share them on social media channels so that it’s as easy as possible for word to spread.
Pro tip: Your social links should share the article with the copy of the post already filled out, not just a link to your page.