March 21, 2013 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Search Rankings aren’t just for SEO professionals anymore. Writers, Designers and Content Creators are all looking to improve their visibility and make the most of their content. After all, what’s the point of producing amazing works if no one ever sees them? Check out our 22 tips to optimize for search:
By adding important keywords to your title, you’re helping your fans just as much as your website. Kelly’s Recipe for Pineapple Guava Frosting is a stronger title than Try This Delicious Frosting! People searching for Pineapple Guava frosting recipes will appreciate your post and you’ll see more traffic when you’re not competing with every other post about frosting on its own.
If you can’t get everything you want to say in a a headline without making it sound like an advertisement, or can’t help using a cute but not-so-descriptive title, fill in the headline in the meta Title Tag. The meta title tag is how the headline will appear in search engines. You can make your article headline Yum! Pineapple Guava Frosting! and make the meta title tag Recipe from Kelly’s Bakery in Atlanta: Pineapple Guava Frosting. Your title becomes useful to people in Atlanta who are looking for bakeries.
It’s tempting to keyword stuff your title (whether on your page or in the title tag) with anything a searcher could possibly need, but the result could be a punished page rank. Name titles for the content that the page is about, not every possible word that can be used to describe it. Kelly’s Bakery in Atlanta: Pineapple Guava Frosting for Cupcakes, Cakes, Cookies and More! is a perfect example. Kelly’s bakery no longer seems like it specializes in just cupcakes.
By adding brief meta descriptions, you dictate exactly what shows up in the SERPs. In the same way that Title Tags can be different from headlines, meta descriptions can be different from the first few sentences of content. If you’re writing an article about a delicious recipe, it’s better to write a description about what the reader will be making instead of just starting with 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla, etc. This is your space to sell readers by offering a preview of your content.
When creating new posts, make each URL specific to the content. A blog that regularly posts recipes should name each post .com/pineapple-guava-frosting-recipe or .com/strawberry-shortcake-muffin-recipe instead of .com/recipe1 or worse, a long series of numbers and letters.
A quality image in .jpg, .png or .gif format will show up in Image SERPs and ultimately drive traffic to your website. To further optimize images for search, keep the file size relatively small and fill in the image information with titles and descriptions. The more information on an image you can include, the more search engines will learn about it and know where to place it.
Adding Alt text not only helps your search optimization, it helps those who are less tech-friendly. Think about your great-grandmother reading your blog post on Internet Explorer. When the images don’t load, the alt text will show up when her mouse cursor hovers over the broken image and describe what she could be seeing if she would only switch to a more modern browser.
Have you ever spent thirty minutes on a blog because you kept clicking hyperlinks in the articles that led new content? Maybe you just wanted to read about lawn-care but kept clicking to different articles and ended up reading about Kim Kardashian’s divorce? This is the power of internal linking. An article about lawn care leads to a different article on the site about celebrity gardens which leads to another article about celebrity break-ups. With internal links, visitors will stay on your site longer and give ranking power to your pages.
The anchor text should describe what the user is clicking on in the article. Exact-match anchor text is a thing of the past and is generally an industry no-no. Anchor text should be organic and natural – not forced or exact-match or word-specific.
The other end of the spectrum from using vague and random anchor text is using genuine, long-stemmed keywords. Choose keywords that are relevant to what the user would search for, and how a user would search. While this seems like common sense, we see more often than not this step is ignored. Create content for the user experience, not search engines.
Most content creation websites—from WordPress to YouTube—have tag sections for a reason. The content becomes more searchable with added meta keywords. This particular post, for example, could include tags like search engine optimization and content marketing.
Just because there’s no limit to the number of tags you can use, doesn’t mean you should include any and all that you can think of. A how-to on cat treats doesn’t need to be tagged with cat, cats, treat, treats, cat treat, cat treats, etc. You get the idea.
If you’re writing a post about bravery, you don’t want to keyword stuff with every synonym in the thesaurus (adventurous, audacious, blod, confident, we’d be here all day) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include those words in your post. Search engines will pick up on the different words and phrases used to describe your topic and attribute value to them accordingly. Plus, your readers will thank you for not having to see the same word 50 times in a post.
H tags determine the importance of a particular section of content on the page, create an outline for crawlers to follow. An H1 tag should be the main concept of idea of an article. H2 tags will then be the main points of the article, and then H3 tags will further breakdown the concept, possibly offering examples or more in-depth details for one of the main points of an article. For example, If I’m writing an article about how to optimize blog content for search, this is how I would use H tags properly:
“Above the fold” basically means everything a viewer sees on the page without scrolling down. Many industry leaders have suggested that CTA’s located above the fold, and content located above the fold converts better and more successfully than if located lower on the site’s page. However, there have been extensive studies and data collected proving these theories false. As far as above or below the fold – every site is different, and depending on your content and your message, you will likely not see the same results as someone else. For CTAs on your site’s page the key is to A/B test to find the solution that works best for you.
By tracking your analytics, you can see how people get to your website and you should verify that the keywords that lead to clicks are relevant to your content. If people keep visiting your site because of the phrase “cheeseburger” when you manage a knitting website, it’s time to improve your keyword strategy and optimize your existing content to rank for more relevant terms. Also, content that doesn’t correlate to search results will have a high bounce rate, which lowers search rankings.
Visitors will thank you for the high usability on your website. If they’re not easily confused or annoyed, they’re more likely to stay on the site longer. Even if visitors find what they’re looking for on the first page, it’s important to have the rest of the site well laid out to encourage users to stay there longer.
This tip falls right below the web design one for a reason. A page that loads slowly because of several .gifs or plugins might annoy your visitors and deter new readers. Keep the file sizes down and the meme .gifs to a minimum and your visitors will thank you.
Search engine algorithms choose which content correlates best to the terms that users search for. It doesn’t behoove them to suggest the exact same SERPs content over and over again. Users that get frustrated with duplicated content will move on to another engine. While posting the same content in different places may seem like increasing the probability of a high page rank, it actually hurts the odds.
There are countless articles out there that describe the correlations between social media and SEO. In a way, social shares are third parties that validate your content. When other people keep sharing your post, Google’s algorithm will recognize the value of your content to readers, and will take that into consideration when ranking your pages.
As you continuously publish new content, the scanners keep reading your work and ranking your pages appropriately. Stale content will not be as relevant as time passes. Consistently posting content also gives search engines more of a reason to reward you – if your site is consistently pushing out 3 high-quality well-written blog articles about baking cupcakes a day, search engines will recognize the fresh content coming from a site that has been recognized as an authority on baking cupcakes. Thus, when a user searches for baking cupcakes, the search engine will want to suggest the “cupcake baking authorities”.
This should just go without saying, but it doesn’t. Sites try to play the system to get high search results without and sacrifice content. Creating helpful or interesting copy, visuals or video will keep people on your site longer and get them sharing. While this seems like common sense, Google dedicated two whole pages to it in its SEO basics guide.
There you have it. These 22 ways can help you boost your search rankings and drive more traffic. Now get out there and optimize!
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