Search engine optimization (SEO) is a fluid, ever-changing field of study. Savvy digital marketers understand the importance of keeping up with the latest updates and strategies, and they use them to increase website visibility. For clarification, Search Engine Watch defines visibility as having a website rank high on a search engine results page (SERP).
Search Engine Optimization Basics
Is SEO still relevant in 2021? Most definitely. And when it comes to global organic traffic, Google is the clear leader, so it is crucial to have a strong presence on their SERPs. There are two main categories for the best SEO tools: on-page technical practices completed on the website, and off-page social media marketing and link-building. Also important to know: the top five results on the first SERP page accounts for close to 70 percent of all clicks.
Semrush explains that the main SEO focus areas include:
The basics, like setting up the search console, Google Analytics, and an SEO plugin
On-page SEO and content
Optimizing a Site
Search Engine Watch lists 22 ways to optimize websites, divided up into two categories. The first category is what search engines are looking for, and the second is what they are not looking for. Two of the main things that search engines seek out are relevancy and quality. If a user enters a search query such as “Where can I find a good landscaper in Seattle, WA?” Google’s algorithms will use the searcher’s location, the time of year and the search history to find them the most relevant results.
Take a look over your site content and objectively ask yourself if it is useful and interesting. One of the new rules of SEO basics in 2021 is that Google now looks for longer, “evergreen” content. The trend is to understand a user’s overall intention, rather than finding keywords that are based on common search queries. Here are three words to keep in mind when writing content: practical, helpful, and thoughtful.
Search engines also like websites that are easy to search and navigate, with related content and relevant internal linking. Those links on the website take users to another page on that same website. Not only does this encourage readers to learn more about the company, but it also increases rankings for keywords.
More SEO Basics
Your content also needs to be trustworthy and authoritative. One way to do this is to include a link or two from an authority website that is respected by the industry it operates in. Meta descriptions, or the short paragraphs that show up beneath a page’s URL in search results, should be composed with care. Do not write more than 150 or so characters, and be sure that the wording is relevant, crisp, and clear.
Headlines should have less than 55 characters, and title tags should include accurate, descriptive keywords; images should always be tagged correctly (include the alt attribute when uploading images).
Local SEO should also be checked, as it will help you rank in search in your local area. Your company can register with Google My Business and ensure that the address, contact information, and operating hours provided are all correct. If there is a “comments” section, that should be visited regularly to weed out spam and other undesirable information.
Finally, your company needs a presence on all of the social media channels that might attract your target audience, with concerted efforts to interact with users. Cross-device compatibility is also a must – the website and content have to be optimized for different devices, screen sizes, and formats. All of the devices need to load quickly, as no one wants to waste time waiting for their information.
Common SEO Mistakes
Some marketers attempt to hide links and text on their website, but the Google algorithm doesn’t look favorably upon this sort of technique. Google also dislikes duplicated content, and will not generally index pages that contain the same exact words in the same order. “Keyword stuffing” is another no-no, because it is an obvious attempt to sell, and it also impacts the site’s readability. For instance:
XYZ widgets are a revolutionary way to clean your home. Other widgets are not as good as XYZ widgets and are more expensive. You can buy XYZ widgets at home supply stores and big box retailers. Ask for XYZ widgets by name.
See what we mean? Another discouraging practice is the use of link buying from “link farms.” According to Rank Ranger, link farms consist of one website or a group of websites that boosts other sites’ rankings by linking it to the many pages within the farm. This is their only purpose, and they are prohibited by Google.
Some Final Suggestions
Advertising on websites is not prohibited, of course, but when ads are excessive and intrusive, they take away from the content and slow down load speed. An obvious example of that is mobile app interstitials. This is when mobile users are shown full-screen ads to download apps. If you use this practice, Google will determine that you are not mobile-friendly.
Some, but not all of these SEO basics are technical, while others are plain old common sense. If the technical end is outside of your skill set, you can hire a professional who is familiar (and up-to-date) with SEO content marketing.
Researching what your competitors’ websites look like, ensuring that content is relevant and timely and responding to user comments can all help you achieve your SEO goals. Keep in mind that Google’s rankings are expected to focus more on overall user experiences. This mantra should help guide your SEO strategies.
Getting Help with SEO
Writing for SEO can be challenging, but entrusting this work to a dedicated team of experts can help. Contact Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing today for help with all of your SEO needs.