Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a valuable tool that brands can use to increase their organic visibility online. It is a way to improve not just the quantity, but also the quality, of organic website traffic on a regular basis through search engines and results. Brands, both large and small, can greatly benefit from implementing SEO best practices on their websites; however, it is essential to continuously audit all webpages and conduct regular maintenance to ensure the best results.
What Is SEO?
SEO takes three parties into consideration:
- The search engine user looking for specific information or services
- The website providing information or services relevant to the search engine user’s query
- The search engine, such as Google or Bing, which crawls the website’s content and relays it to the users as a relevant result for their query
The main goal of implementing SEO best practices is to have your website appear organically for relevant search queries. Doing so increases the likelihood that a user will click on your hyperlink in search results, driving more traffic to your brand’s website.
More traffic to your website means several things for your company. Firstly, it increases brand awareness and authority. As more users find your website in search results and consume the information you provide, the more people become aware of your brand. As more visitors engage with your website and share your content with others, your brand’s authority builds, which, in turn, helps your brand become synonymous with your industry’s top search terms.
The second benefit of increasing organic web traffic via search engines is that your brand will likely experience an increase in revenue. As more relevant users find your website, it will likely lead to more conversions. These conversions may mean different things to different brands. For example, are you an eCommerce brand that sells product directly on-site? Or, perhaps you are a service provider, and your goal is to book more appointments. The more eyes that see your site, the more likely these conversions become. The result is increased revenue and a larger customer base.
Optimizing Websites for SEO Best Practices
To optimize your website for SEO best practices in 2021, there are several key elements to examine. These elements include aspects of your website that are evident to your viewer, as well as components that are only visible to search engines on the backend. Most importantly, SEO best practices make your website easily searchable. They provide search engines with the answers and results they are looking for when presenting webpages to users.
Keywords and Search Terms
The first element of SEO best practices to examine is proper optimization for “keywords,” or search queries, on each of your webpages. When a website is optimized for keywords, it sends signals to search engines about the relevance and meaning of the website’s content, which, in turn, helps the search engines connect the site with users looking for relevant information.
An SEO specialist can identify the best terms to use for each page to target based on the topics that they cover. No two pages on the same website should be competing for the same keywords as this can negatively impact rankings. Moreover, there is a proper amount for many times per page the keyword should be used. It is an SEO best practice to use the most important keyword in the very first sentence of a page and then sprinkled throughout the rest of the text, but keywords should not be added excessively to game search results. Search engines have become quite good at detecting keyword spam, which will negatively impact your website’s performance. It also makes for a bad user experience to have content that reads unnaturally. Therefore, your website’s content should always be written for human readers first and search engines second.
To capture the best clicks, you want to be sure that you are targeting keywords with the correct search intent, as well as a high enough search volume, yet low enough keyword difficulty to successfully rank each page. SEO specialists use industry-specific programs and platforms to identify all this information before creating content.
Include Proper Headers on Each Page
Having proper headers on each page of your website is an important signal for both search engines and website visitors alike. Every webpage should have an H1 header that appears above all other headers, as well as smaller sub-headers that indicate new areas of content. There should only be a single H1 per page, while there may be several H2s or H3s.
The H1 on the page should note the overarching theme, such as a category type or the blog title. For example, if you have a website about dogs and one specific page is dedicated to information about Labrador Retrievers, the H1 might be “All about Labrador Retrievers” with secondary H2s such as “Grooming Tips for Labradors” and more.
H2s will note a page’s primary sections, while the smaller H3s will note more minor sub-topics within a section. Additionally, if you wish to break content into even further sub-topics you can implement the use of H4s and H5s to provide a page with more organized structure.
Metadata includes the information that a search engine shows a user within the search results pages (or “SERPs”), along with all the other websites that provide an answer for the user’s query. For this reason, on each page, it is extremely important to include relevant information that speaks to the purpose of the page and how it can serve potential customers’ needs in this portion.
Metadata consists of two elements: the page title and the meta description.
- The page title is a major ranking factor for Google, and it is important that they include relevant terms used by your prospects in searches.
- The meta description appears underneath the page title in the search results as a gray summary of text. Optimized meta descriptions, which can be written and optimized to be engaging for search engine users, improve CTR (Click-Through-Rate), as they encourage more users to click through to your website.
The maximum length for page titles is 60 characters, and meta descriptions should not exceed 155 characters. If these elements are too long, Google will cut off the title and description, leaving the search engine user unable to view all pertinent information.
However, metadata should also not be too short, or else the user may be left with questions regarding the relevancy of your page to their search.
- Page title minimum length: 30 characters
- Meta description minimum length: 70 characters
Avoid Common Content Issues
There are several common types of content issues that you should avoid if you are looking to implement SEO best practices in 2021. First, avoid thin content or pages that lack enough copy and imagery to be valuable to a user. You may need to enlist the help of a content writing team as well as a graphic and web designer to adequately address this issue. For each topic and keyword present on your website, there is an associated target content length that an SEO specialist can identify when running an audit. This is done by also looking at high-ranking competitor websites and content to see how valuable your information is in comparison.
Other common content issues that you want to avoid include having multiple webpages on your site that have the exact same copy or information. This is known as having internally duplicated content, which can hurt your search rankings. A common example of internal duplicate content occurs when webmasters setup “doorway” pages, or landing pages created to rank in search engines for specific keywords. An example of doorway pages with duplicate content would be a series of landing page created to rank for different cities in the state of Florida, each page targeting a different city but containing largely the same text, tweaked only slightly between pages, if at all.
Best SEO Practices for Images
While lots of SEO best practices focus on the words (copy) and the metadata associated with a website, there are also best practices to implement regarding images that appear on each webpage.
First, every image should have a unique, descriptive file name that is associated with a keyword or search term, with hyphens to separate each word. For example, a picture of a yellow lab might be titled “yellow-lab.jpg” instead of a random association of letters and numbers that downloaded files often display. Next, each image should have what is known as “alt text” or a brief description that details the contents of that image. This is helpful not only for search engines but also for those with vision impairment. Last, image files should not be excessively large, as this may slow down the load time of your website. Try to use an image file compressor whenever possible to make files smaller.
Start Optimizing Your Website Today
Implement SEO best practices in 2021 to start seeing more organic traffic, greater revenue, and more online engagement for your brand. There are a few simple steps that you can take to best optimize your website, and our SEO team is here to help you each step of the way. At Lamark, we have a dedicated team of SEO specialists, as well as a full content team, design team, and web development department to effectively help our clients unlock their full potential and gain better visibility online.
SEO best practices are continuously changing as search engines alter the way they look at pages and how they rank content. At Lamark, our team expertly reviews each website we work with to ensure that all of the most recent and up-to-date methods are employed to best benefit our clients. Let’s get started today for improved web traffic in all of 2021.
Josh Solomon: Josh is a Senior SEO Specialist at Lamark Media. With 10 years of experience working in the field of internet marketing and SEO, Josh is passionate about driving growth and helping brands improve their online visibility. In his free time, Josh enjoys buying blurays, watching blurays and wanting more blurays.