What are SEO best practices?
These are recommended guidelines that can improve a site’s organic rankings, which usually mean more website visitors. The higher your page ranks, the more likely the person that is searching for something will click through to your content.
1. Align your content with search Intent
Search intent is the purpose behind every search query. A query could be a word or phrase that an internet user types into a search engine’s search box to answer an inquiry or question.
Understanding and satisfying search intent is Google’s priority. Pages that rank on the first page have all passed Google’s test on search intent. To rank on page 1 of Google, you need to understand search intent and create content that matches it.
There are 4 common types of search intent:
Informational: when someone is trying to learn more about something
Navigational: when someone is searching for a specific page or website
Commercial: when someone is looking to learn more before making a purchase
Transactional: when someone is intending to complete an action or purchase
2. Leverage primary keywords
A primary keyword (or “target keyword”) is a keyword that best represents the topic of a page.
Every page on your site should target one primary keyword and where you use your primary keyword also matters. It helps optimise the page. So, if possible, add your target keyword to elements like:
The title tag
The main headers
The page’s URL
3. Write compelling Title Tags and Meta descriptions
Your page title and meta description are two of the most important meta tags on your page.
Title tags are clickable headlines that appear in SERPs (search engine results pages).
They signal to Google what your page is about. And they’re fundamental from an SEO perspective. It’s often the primary piece of information searchers use to decide which result to click on. It’s important to use compelling titles for your web pages.
Generally, it’s best to keep title tags between 50 to 60 characters. This way, words won’t get cut off on desktop or mobile SERPs.
Here are some other title tag best practices to keep in mind:
Include your target keyword
Match search intent
Avoid duplicate title tags
A meta description is a meta tag used to describe the content of a page. It’s often displayed below the title and URL of your page in the SERP. Meta descriptions should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what the page is about. They’re like a pitch that convinces a searcher that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.
Here are a few meta description best practices to follow:
Write a unique meta description for every page
Use action-oriented copy
Include your primary keyword
Match search intent
4. Optimise your images
Images play a crucial role in improving a visitor’s user experience. When used right, images can contribute to your site’s overall SEO and boost organic traffic.
Here are some ways to optimise your images:
Choose the best file format
Images are often responsible for the overall page size and loading time. Page speed is important for a good user experience.
The first step is picking the best file format.
The most commonly used image formats on the web are JPEG and PNG.
Both formats use different compression techniques. Which is why the file sizes between these two can be very different. JPEGs are great for photographs, and PNGs are best suited for images that contain text, line drawings, etc.
Compress your images
Image compression is a process applied to images to minimise their size without degrading quality. The larger your image file size, the longer it takes your page to load.
So it’s really important to compress your images before you upload them to your site.
Provide Alt Text for images
Alt text (short for alternative text) is text included in HTML code to describe an image on a webpage. It provides context for search engine crawlers and those viewing a page with a screen reader. Despite advances in Google’s ability to understand images, adding alt text to images is still necessary.
Here are several alt-text best practices to follow:
Keep it under 125 characters
Include one main keyword for context
Don’t include “image of” or “picture of”
Try next-gen formats
With next-gen image formats, it’s possible to upload high-quality images without slowing down your page load time or compress your images without them losing quality. These are web-optimized image file formats that retain the quality of the original image when compressed.
The next generation offers an image format that consumes less network data, resulting in faster load times. Due to its advanced compression capabilities, it’s now easier for mobile and tablet devices to display high-quality images without sacrificing page size and speed, which results in better website performance.
There are two types of next-gen image formats:
AV1 Image File Format (AVIF), is an image file format that compresses images into smaller sizes while retaining their image quality. The AVIF is designed with a lossless image compression capability that far superseded the WebP.
Web Picture Format (WebP), is an image file format developed by Google that provides lossy and lossless compression for web images.
5. Optimise your site’s page loading speed
Page loading speed is very important for Google. Especially on mobile. This is why we recommend making your site load as quickly as possible.
To benchmark your site’s current loading speed, use Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool.
Start by entering your URL. Then click “Analyse.” You’ll see a dashboard with your site’s overall health. And a detailed report with all the ways you can improve.
6. Build an internal linking structure
Internal links are important because they establish an information hierarchy for your website, and help Google understand the content on your page.
When used correctly, internal links may boost your rankings. An SEO best practice is to add internal links from top-ranking pages on your site to pages that need a boost.
Generally, this means linking old pages (that perform well) to new ones. Old pages tend to have more authority. It’s a shortcut to help you use internal links without having to analyse every page on your site.
7. Improve user experience
Google keeps a close eye on how users engage with pages. As such, user experience (UX) is a key factor in helping improve search rankings.
Page speed plays a key role in improving UX, but it’s just a starting point.
Here are a few other SEO tips to ensure that users have a good experience when they visit your site:
Use headers and subheadings. Proper use of headers and subheadings (H1, H2, H3) helps Google understand your content better and makes your text more accessible to readers.
Make your content visually appealing. Visuals help readers understand your content better. Use relevant images, videos, and screenshots to help get your point across.
Avoid using intrusive pop-ups. Pop-ups are annoying your visitors.
Use white space. White space is fundamental for good design. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, white space improves legibility, branding, and focus.
Make your site mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness is critical for UX and because Google uses mobile-first indexing. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to see how your site performs.
8. Make your URLs SEO-friendly
A good URL structure gives users and search engines an idea of what the destination page is about.
Consider organising your content so that URLs are constructed logically, and in a manner that is intelligible to humans.
With that in mind, here is how you can start creating well-structured URLs:
Use short URLs.
Include your target keyword.
Include categories or subfolders if necessary. For example, if you’re selling goods, you may have a “shop” subcategory. This helps users navigate your site.
9. Create useful content
Publishing original, helpful content can help you rank higher on Google. Try your best to solve hard problems, share learnings from your data, and challenge misconceptions.
A great strategy is to find topics that are already trending in your industry, and then create content with new angles, data, and perspectives.