Are you wondering why your site doesn’t rank well on searches? The answer lies in search engine optimization (SEO). SEO isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the force that drives online visibility, user engagement, and digital success.
Mastering the art of search engine optimization is necessary if you need people to find your content. While SEO is a process, the good news is that it’s not impossible to grasp.
Today, you’ll discover the best SEO practices to help you claim your rightful place on search engine results pages. From the foundational steps of keyword research to the nuanced strategies of content optimization and technical finesse, there’s no stone left unturned.
What Are the SEO Best Practices to Follow?
Here are the top SEO strategies, tactics, and principles to help you increase your content’s search engine rankings.
1. Find Proper Keywords
Keyword research is a good SEO practice that forms the cornerstone of any successful SEO strategy. It’s the process of identifying the specific words and phrases that users enter into search engines when seeking information, products, or services.
It’s possible to research keywords for free using Google features like autocomplete predictions, People Also Ask, and related searches. Still, various keyword research tools designed for that specific purpose exist to make the work easier for you.
These tools can provide you with keyword data that Google won’t show you. For instance, you’ll access the search volume, keyword difficulty, and cost-per-click (CPC) of any given keyword.
The trick is to find a low-competition keyword with traffic potential. Most of these keywords comprise 3 or more words and are called long-tail keywords. They’re also more specific and are great to target if you want users to take a specific action.
2. Create High-Quality Content
Nowadays, attention spans are fleeting and information is abundant on the Web. Such reasons have made quality content to be the currency of the online realm. If you write basic stuff, users will abandon it and search engines won’t see the value of ranking it well.
The best thing you can do is analyze the top pages and strive to write something equally valuable or better. This approach, alongside other ranking factors, can help your posts show up on the top search results pages. But if your content is of poor quality, you can rest assured that you have no chance of appearing anywhere in the top pages, especially if there’s high competition.
If you intend to use an AI writer software tool, make sure you add a human touch to it. Add your own input and experiences to boost its value.
3. Optimize Your Content with Relevant and Targeted Keywords
Now after you’ve done keyword research to find the right keywords, you need to optimize your content by inserting the keywords in all the right places within it. These are:
- Page title
- Heading and subheadings
- Specific instances within the body, depending on the content length
- Meta description
If you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin can help you check whether you’ve used the keyword enough times in your post. You just need to follow the plugin’s suggestions to improve the SEO score of your content.
Better yet, get yourself a content-optimizing tool like Surfer SEO or one of its numerous alternatives. Such a tool provides you with optimization suggestions based on its SERP analysis of top-ranking pages for a keyword.
Remember to avoid stuffing keywords. It’s a bad SEO practice that can be a detriment to your optimization efforts.
4. Add Visual Content to Your Posts and Optimize Them
Visual elements, such as images, infographics, videos, and illustrations, transcend language barriers and add a dynamic dimension to your posts. Incorporating visual content isn’t just a trend. It’s a good SEO habit and a strategy to improve user experience, convey complex information, and amplify the impact of your message.
Our brains process images faster than text, and visuals have the power to evoke emotions, tell stories, and make information more memorable. That’s exactly why Google likes it when your content, depending on the topic and niche, has several images or videos. When site users view your videos, they’ll stay longer on your site and this reduces the bounce rates.
You’ll need to put an alt text to each of your images. It would be best to include some of your target keywords in the alt text to help with image search results. Make sure that your images can load quickly by reducing their size manually or using an image compression plugin like ShortPixel.
5. Link Your Content Internally
Chances are that you already have other posts that relate to your most recently published one. You need to add links to these other posts to enjoy a few SEO benefits.
First, internal links create a logical and organized website structure that allows users to easily navigate between different pages and sections. Users get to discover related or complementary information and explore more of your content. As visitors spend more time on your site, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and it will appear higher in searches.
Internal links also contribute to the distribution of page authority and ranking power throughout a website. Pages with higher authority can pass on some of that authority to linked pages and boost their visibility. What’s more internal links help search engine crawlers to discover more of your new or unindexed posts and rank them.
6. Reduce Page Loading Time
Every second counts! The duration it takes for your web page to fully display the contents can make or break user satisfaction and engagement. A slow-loading website can lead to frustration, abandonment, and missed opportunities for you.
The reason is that speed is synonymous with convenience. When users encounter swift-loading pages, they’re more likely to stay, engage with your content, and explore further. Speedy interactions and smoother transaction processes can lead to more leads, subscribers, or customers. But if your visitors are greeted with delays, chances are they’ll hit the back button and seek information or purchase elsewhere.
All these reasons make websites with faster loading times rank higher in search results in most cases. Search engines prioritize delivering results that offer a seamless experience.
If your page is slow, you can do the following:
- Compress images without sacrificing quality
- Load crucial content first to give users a fast initial impression
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare
- Change your site’s theme to a lightweight and fast-loading one such as Kadence
- Opt for a hosting provider that offers fast and stable servers like Hostinger
7. Optimize for Mobile
Smartphones have become extensions of our beings and optimizing your website for mobile devices isn’t just an option. Mobile optimization is all about ensuring that your website is seamlessly accessible, navigable, and visually appealing on a range of mobile devices, from compact smartphones to tablets.
Google, the search giant, has adopted a mobile-first indexing approach. In other words, there’s prioritized indexing and ranking of the mobile version of websites. A mobile-friendly site has a higher chance of earning favorable search engine rankings.
That’s why you need to create a responsive website that automatically adjusts its layout and content based on the user’s device. Many modern website builders and themes can help you achieve this.
You also need to craft concise, scannable content that’s easy to read on smaller screens. Be sure to use legible fonts and font sizes that are comfortable to read on mobile devices.
What’s more, optimize forms and input fields to make it easy for users to interact on mobile. It would help if you regularly test your website across various devices and screen sizes to ensure consistent performance.
8. Build Links to Your Content
Google has numerous ranking factors and your backlink profile counts. Most top sites and pages are the ones with the best and highest number of backlinks.
Getting good backlinks starts with having quality content. No site owner or editor will want to link to basic or misleading posts that will negatively affect the experience of their readers.
Besides ensuring your content is valuable, you can do several things to get links to it. The most used method is guest posting. This involves writing posts with your links on another site.
You can also participate in expert roundups in your niche or industry using tools like HARO and have your advice published online. In most cases, you get credit for it, which includes a link to our site. Other link-building methods include:
- Broken link building
- Competitor backlink analysis to find opportunities
- Creating linkable assets like infographics (besides publishing quality content)
9. Monitor Your Rankings
Monitoring your ranking is a good SEO practice that allows you to know how well your SEO efforts are working. You don’t need to create spreadsheets or anything like that. It’s simply tracking your keywords and noting how they’re moving up and down.
You can use analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console for this. These free tools provide data from Google on your current ranking keywords and pages, the positions, and the amount of traffic they get.
It’s wise to use the analysis to guide your optimization efforts. If you notice a drop in rankings, you’ll need to identify what the reason is to salvage the situation as soon as possible.
Analytics tools also provide insights for new content. You’ll find that there are ranking (lowly) for some keywords you haven’t covered yet in-depth because they relate to some of your previously published posts. Pay attention because that’s Google telling you what you can write and rank well for.
10. Update Your Content Periodically
It’s likely to see old content when you search for something on Google. Even if it was written 10 years ago, you’ll find that it has been updated over time to ensure it remains valuable to readers. Search engines love this.
If you don’t update your content for a long time, you’ll find that other sites have started to outrank you because of their freshness. The frequency by which you need to update a post will depend on what the topic is.
For example, a topic like “digital marketing trends” will require more updates than “what is digital marketing.” You’ll need to tweak such a time-sensitive post every few months to a year.
There’s a lot you can do to update an old post. This could include adding new tips, statistics, examples, or visual content. You can even make changes to the title and headings to suit what people are looking for.
SEO is an ongoing game. The good thing is that every little SEO task you accomplish can bring in high returns over a prolonged period. So, follow these SEO best practices to ensure that your content reaches the right eye and you get a boost in conversions.