In this post we’re going to go back to basics and look at the fundamental rules of SEO for writing great copy and building great websites. Bear these rules in mind when you’re writing your next blog post, landing page or meta description. It’ll serve as a handy guide and give you a starting point if you’re feeling uninspired.
1. Optimise: Use relevant keywords
Keywords are the terms people use to find your site on Google. Ask yourself: what would someone search for to find my site? There are also lots of tools you can use to find out how often those terms are searched for, such as Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer. And to make your content great for SEO you need to pepper these keywords throughout your copy.
See it in action
Keywords targeted: social media 2017, social statistics for 2017
- Plan what keywords you’re going to use before you write. Keywords are integral, not an afterthought.
- Use keywords in your page title, meta description and body copy.
- Keep it natural - only use keywords between three to four times max.
2. Explain: Use title tags
Before people even arrive on your site they’ll be getting an impression of your company. Your SERPs (search engine result pages) copy is often the first introduction people have to your business. Two vital things make up your SERPs presence; your page title and your meta description. Let’s begin with your title tag. This can be changed in your CMS (Content Management System) and helps to guide Google’s crawl bots what your page is about.
See it in action
Title tag essentials:
- Should be no longer than 65 characters or it will get cut off (ellipses will be added to the end of it).
- Should clearly explain what the page is about.
- Should contain an important, relevant keyword for the page.
3. Clarify: Utilise meta descriptions
Your meta description gives you a little more room to clarify what your page is about, as well as giving you chance to target some more keywords. In our example, ‘fully integrated agency’ is targeted again as well as ‘digital marketing’. It’s another little hello to your business and a chance to become more visible.
Meta description essentials:
- Should be no longer than 160 characters.
- Should target relevant keywords.
- Should create a positive impression of your company.
4. Guide: Employ H1s, H2s and H3s
H1s, H2s and H3s are the tags that are associated to bits of your copy. For example, the subheading you’ve just read is a H3. The blog title is a H1. These help SEO in two ways. The first, is that your copy is giving clear indicators to crawl bots what the next piece of information is going to be about. This shows to Google that the page has value. The second, is that it helps your reader. Good SEO practice was put in place for users. If your article is easier to scan, it’s more likely someone will read it.
See it in action
Header tag essentials:
- Your hierarchy of information goes from H1 down in order of importance. So, your blog title would be a H1, a sub head would be a H2 and so on.
- Some header tags are styled (usually decided when the site is built) - make sure it still looks readable to your user.
- Make sure your copy is clear in its intent - is your heading being clear in its purpose? Are you giving an accurate summary of the page’s content?
5. Encourage: Relevant linking in content
Content serves many purposes on a site, and one of those purposes is to encourage further reading. Best SEO practice dictates that relevant internal (pages within your site) and external linking (to a different website) on a page helps your user. There are lots of reasons you might want to link internally or externally. You may want to cite a reference you’ve made or link to a relevant service page or a previous article you’ve written. Linking, ultimately, is helping the user along their journey. It is helpful rather than intrusive.
See it in action
The pink text links off to the video it is describing.
- More than three links per article/page can feel heavy handed and spammy. Google will penalise your site for an excessive use of links.
- External: link directly to a source to support an argument, it adds credibility to your argument.
- Internal: Only link to a page, such as a previous article, if it is relevant to your subject matter.
- Link farming used to be a thing and Google hates it. Do not do this.
- Try to link on a useful phrase, rather than the word ‘here’. It’s unhelpful for your user and is inhibiting for crawl bots.
- If you’re linking within your own site make sure the link opens in the same tab, this will help to keep people engaged with your site and keep your bounce rate down.
- If you’re linking externally, make sure you open in a new tab so your site isn’t lost.
6. Control: Quality check content
All of these SEO practices amount to one clear goal: quality content. Back in February 2011, Google introduced something called the Panda update. The purpose of this search filter was to stop poor quality content reaching the higher echelons of the SERPs. Naughty people working in search were trying to cheat the system and were stuffing their sites with keywords to appear higher up. Everyone (especially users) got mad and Google put a stop to it.
So, how does Google quantify ‘good’ content?
- The proper use of H tags to help your reader.
- An appropriate amount of relevant keywords.
- Good use of internal and external linking.
- Over time there are various ways for your company to be seen as an expert in a certain subject. One way to achieve this is to produce helpful content and amplifying it on the right channels. This associates your brand with something of value and Google will eventually rank you higher for it.
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