18 SEO Basics for Search Engine Optimization

If you want your website to show up in search results there are 18 things you should pay attention to. These are the basics of On Page Search Engine Optimization and SEO tips.

Get these right and you are in the game, ignore these and suffer the “non-results”.

I didn't get into a lot of details as to the why of certain suggestions, I may do so in future post, but for now there are some links provided for further research and you can always contact me directly with any questions.

SEO Setup and Platform

Optimize your URL: Include key words, set this up in your Content Management System to automatically use your title as the URL. As you can see in this blog post's title: "http://eleganteaglewebdesign.com/18-seo-basics-for-search-engine-optimization"

Use Descriptive Titles: Always use key words. The title is the most important on page SEO factor. It is also the first thing a person will see. Make it compelling and have the key words as close to the beginning as possible.On Page SEO

Make use of Headers: Headers help organize your content for readability and tell Google what the important points are in your article. Use key words but don't over do it. Headers should be used naturally and help the reader as well as the search engines read though you article.

Use H1 tags for your title and H2 and H3 subheadings as it makes sense throughout your article.

Optimize your Images: This is one of the most overlooked and easily fixed on page SEO issues I see. Search engines can't “see” your image, therefore you need to use text to optimize your images:

  • Rename your image. Use descriptive terms that make sense.
  • Use ALT text. When you upload an image you can add this. Use just a few words and be sure to include your key words.

Size your images appropriately: Not so large that your site is slowed down and not small that it can't be seen. If the image is part of an article is should be no than than 40% of the page width, and should be less than 200kb, the image above for example is 35kb. If the image is in a gallery visitors may be OK with waiting a moment for the image to load, even so stick to something around 800x600 pixels and a size of no more than 400kb. The exception would be if you have an image centric need, like a photographer's website. In that case visitors may be willing to wait a couple seconds more. 

Mobile Web use overtakes PCBe Mobile Friendly: Mobile use and search has already overtaken PC use and search. The search engines will actually give you points for being mobile friendly. The best and easiest way to do this is to use responsive design that automatically adjusts your content to the screen size being used. Google recommends responsive design  over other techniques to be mobile friendly. Is your website mobile friendly? Use Google's free and fast test to find out. 

Use Key Words intelligently: Don't try and do too much. Decide on your main key word and a few 2nd tier key words. Key word research should be done in the pre writing stages of your article writing. Knowing what key words to use to attract readers who will find your content relevant will help you organize the article. Most SEO experts suggest a keyword density of 1 to 3 percent. 

Create a Site map: A site map is a list of your web pages and how they are structured, created for search engine crawlers to be able to find and index your entire website. Wikipedia has a full explanation of site maps.
But here is what you need to know: 

  • You will be penalized if you don't have a site map.
  • Most platforms you build a site on will have plugins or built-in site map generators to simplify the process.
  • A web site design professional will be able to optimize your site map for the uniqueness of your website.

Include a robots.txt file in your main directory: A robots.txt file will tell search engines what areas of the website not to search and index. Depending on your content and scope of your website this may not be important from an organization perspective, but search engines like to see a robots.txt file and you will not be penalized for having one. Keep in mind a robots.txt file is only a suggestion to the search engine crawler, certain crawlers, with sometimes evil intent will search everything they can find.

Content

Start with original, compelling, and sharable content: Write about what your target market is interested in and write original, interesting content that is shareable. If your writing is interesting and written in a compelling manner then it will be shareable. Sharing is social proof and it goes a long way to getting visitors to your site and letting search engines know that you are writing and sharing information that is interesting to others.

Use Natural Language: The general rule is to write content for humans first and utilize the SEO best practices only as it makes sense and helps the reader. Search engines today are smart enough to realize that content is “trying to hard” to please them and not humans and you can be penalized if you are writing for search engines and not humans.

Use, don't over use, Key Words: Intersperse key words and related key words through out. Search engines today understand synonyms and this will also help you rank for long tail key words. If you were writing an article about Mountain Bikes you would want to include “mountain bike trails” as well as “biking trails” “bike trails” “off road biking” “full suspension” "fat tire trails” for example.

Blog content article lengthWrite enough, but not too much: Don't write to ramble. Meaty, interesting and relevant content will keep readers engaged. The length will vary by subject but in general less than 300 words is not recommended. Most subjects can be well treated in 500 – 1,000 words. Since the Google Panda update Google is penalizing low quality content and instead is considering the relevancy and uniqueness of content. Cover the stated subject area fully and display your expertise with quality content.
If writing a long article break it up with varied formatting, pictures, links to relevant content. In other words take responsibility for helping the reader stay interested.

Note: readers who leave your page quickly will affect ranking negatively. Google figures the reader didn't find the content relevant, or that it was hard to read. The effect will be worse if the visitor returns to Google search and clicks on the next search result (how many times have you done that?) It basically tells Google that that first URL was did not correspond to what you wanted, so Google will knock that first URL down a few points.

User Experience

Be Social: Making it easy for people to share your content will get you more shares. Why is social important to SEO?Social Share Buttons It allows your content to reach more people and tells the search engines that people are finding your content relevant.

Use Internal links: Use anchor text: relevant text is better than the classic: “click here”. Example:

Related: What is the difference between White Hat and Black Hat strategies?

Use Out Bound Links: Allowing readers some insight into related topics or to dig deeper into subjects you mention is looked at positively as adding value and helping Google figure out what you article is all about. Use only when it makes sense and don't overload your article with out bound links.

Meta Descriptions help get visitors after you appear on the search results: This is the snippet that you see in Google under the title in search results. It is often the first thing someone will see after your page title. Make sure it is compelling to your intended audience, it is reading this that they will decide to click or not on your link.

Be fast: Remember when people referred to www as the "World Wide Wait"? I may be dating myself but patience has not increase over the years. You will lose customers if they have to wait excessively for your site/page to load. What is an excessive page load time? Its hard to get an exact number but anything around the 5 second mark needs attention as it starts to get into the excessive wait zone. Often a caching technique is used on website to help improve speed, and it is a relatively easy way to improve performance.
Test your website speed here: Page load time test or at Google's own page load test: 

 

That's the gist of it, get those 18 things right and your website will be amongst the top in on page search engine optimization.
Don't hesitate to contact me for any clarification or questions you may have.

 

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