SEO best practices are the backbone of quality content creation on a website. You need them. There’s no way around it. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the work you do to make your website and content optimized for searchability.
For some, SEO is a mystery. We’ll be honest, it can be a tricky process to gain a deep understanding of. Once you get into it, however, it’s immensely satisfying to watch your SEO work pay off for your digital ecosystem.
In this Mr. Thrive blog, we’re walking through the SEO best practices every website owner needs to know. We’d say we’re sharing our SEO secrets but truly, these are practices everyone needs to know for business and marketing success.
SEO Tips and Tricks
Building your SEO best practices is all about small, consistent steps toward success. From the outside, SEO can seem like an untameable beast, with the work of trying to figure out Google rankings overwhelming you.
When you walk through the steps, however, it becomes entirely manageable. From there it becomes highly rewarding. In the words of our resident copywriter and SEO expert, Sarah Ward:
“Writing a well-crafted post is rewarding. When you pair quality writing with SEO you double down on the reward. SEO gives you tangible skills to make web content that will be seen and appreciated by your chosen audience. Not to mention, it’s thrilling to see your writing ranking high on Google.”
SEO gives you the tools to feel that thrill. These 14 SEO steps are all important. Some of them are more important–there’s a reason internal linking sits at number one. If you don’t have the resources for all these practices that’s okay. Use as many of these as you can.
14. Build Backlinks
Building backlinks is a good way to build up the credibility of your site. Backlinks are links pointing to your site from outside sources. You can get backlinks naturally as places link your site as an authoritative source. You can also engage in backlink exchanges. With exchanges, however, it’s best to use them minimally, as Google can view them as disingenuous.
13. Improve User Experience (UX)
User experience is all about how easy it is for people to interact with your website. Improving user experience involves optimizing photo sizes for loading speed, making your page intuitive to navigate, and minimizing pop-up advertisements. You want customers to enjoy visiting your page to keep them coming back.
12. Competitor Research
Competitor research helps you find the gaps in your competitor’s websites and fill them in. This research involves learning who your direct competitors are, checking their sites for usability, and finding ways to have more and better content. Your goal is to be the number one source in your industry.
11. Clean Up Toxic Links
Toxic links include weak backlinks, broken internal links, broken external links–where you link to an outside source, and links that are overused. Links that are overused on your site are often links where you use the same anchor text–the words you hyperlink–too many times. While the link is strong, you want to make sure you have variation in your anchor text.
10. Use Pillar Structure to Show Expertise
Pillar structure is the practice of writing a cluster of posts around one subject. From there you create a large pillar post that is a pared down collection of those articles. When you create these pillar structures you’re showing that you have expertise on that subject matter. When you use internal links to connect those pages, you’re growing your authority.
9. Answer FAQs
Frequently asked questions or FAQs are an important part of any blog post. When you Google a term there is a section on the search page with “People also ask” questions. Those PAAs or FAQs are questions you can answer. Answering them in a formatted list (see our FAQs below) helps you rank higher and increases your chance of gaining a Google featured snippet.
8. Image SEO
Image SEO is short and sweet and important for your site. Improving the SEO of your images includes naming them, using alt text, and using the right pixel and image size to improve loading speed. Optimized photos give you one less thing to worry about for user experience and page crawlability.
7. Emphasize Your Main Keyword
Your main keyword is the start of your SEO best practices. When you find an idea for an article, your first keyword is the next step. It should have a high search volume and be a term that your buyer persona will search for. It should be used in the beginning of your title and around five times throughout your post. This can increase with a higher word count.
6. Be Unique and Human
In May of 2022 Google rolled out an algorithm update known as the helpful content update. The key features of the update center on humanized, helpful, unique content. Of course, these are always good practices to keep in mind. While you need to focus on keywords, links, and SEO, helpful and unique content is always the goal.
5. Optimize Your Title Tag
Your title tag is a fancy name for your post title. It’s also your H1 in header terminology. Optimizing your title tag relies on a few factors. One is using your main keyword near the beginning. If it can be the first few words, that’s excellent.
You should also use a number in your title. This gives Google something to look for in your post that is substantial and tangible. In this post, for example, we highlight the 14 tips for SEO best practices.
The other important part of title tag optimization is character count. Typically you want between 50 and 60 characters in your title. This includes spaces.
4. Clean Up Loading Speed
One of the best ways to clean up your loading speed is to make sure your photos are all small in size. Loading speed can also relate to coding. You don’t have to know how to code to work with SEO but if your pages are loading slow it’s something to look into. Hiring a company like Mr. Thrive Media, where we offer website design services, can help you with coding.
3. Track On Multiple Platforms
Tracking your website on a site like Semrush or Moz is a good way to manage your SEO. On those sites you can track your page structure and Google rankings and do competitor research. Using Google Analytics and Google Search Console is also helpful. Having multiple sources gives you a well-rounded view.
2. Header Structure
Header structure is how you outline your on-page content. You start with H1 as your title tag, then go down the line with H2s, H3s, H4s, and so on. For the most part you stop around H3s and H4s. You use descending order, and you keep them in line.
For example, you wouldn’t put an H4 directly after an H2, but you can follow up an H2 with a few H3s. Headers also involve keyword search volume. Your H1 should be your highest search volume term, then your H2s should be in descending order of search volume. For H3s and below you don’t have to use specific keywords. For your final section you should use an H3.
One thing to be careful with in your headers is keyword usage. You want to use your main keyword in the title tag. Beyond that, it’s best to avoid it in other headers. It doesn’t hurt to use it in the first H2, but it shouldn’t be in your FAQs header or your final H3. This is seen as keyword stuffing.
1. Internal Linking
Internal linking is one of the most important if not the most important SEO practices. Internal linking is the practice of linking to other pages on your site. This includes linking to and from blog posts and main pages. It is exclusively within your site. These are known as inlinks and outlinks. They give your site authority from Google’s perspective.
Frequently Asked Questions About SEO Best Practices
After reading through those 14 SEO best practices you’re well prepared to take on SEO work. However, there is always more to learn. Our answers to these frequently asked questions (vital for an SEO-driven blog post) will give you even more helpful information.
What are the Three Pillars of SEO?
The three pillars of SEO are authority, relevance, and experience. Authority is what gives your site credibility. When you show authority in unique, accurate, helpful content, you’ll draw in customers who recognize that expertise.
Relevance is about choosing the right content to create. This means having a buyer persona in mind when you draft content. You’re writing to the customers you are seeking out. You need content that is relevant to their needs.
Experience, in this context, is all about the experience viewers have on your site. User experience involves everything from page loading speed to image clarity. Optimizing your site to make it user-friendly and enjoyable to visit is crucial. You could have the best blog posts but if your site isn’t well configured it doesn’t matter.
What are the Four Stages of SEO?
The four stages of SEO are:
1. Understanding and implementing technical SEO practices. This means having a solid base of SEO structure in mind–using the 14 tips we outlined in this post.
2. Finding your target keyword for each post. For every post you should have a few keywords you are targeting, but the main keyword is the first one you need to find. It should have a high relevance for your audience and a decent search volume.
3. Creating an optimized page. Your on-page structure for every blog post needs to be pristine. Every post is different in content–this is vital–but the base SEO structure shouldn’t change.
4. Building links. We can’t say this enough. Building inlinks and outlinks from pages, as well as sourcing backlinks, is what will give your site authority steadily over time.
Those four stages give you the structure of your SEO overall. If you work through them and include them in your SEO checklist you’ll be set up for success.
What Is the Golden Rule of SEO?
The golden rule of SEO is understanding the needs of your customer and creating SEO-driven content that meets those needs. That’s it. That’s really all you need to begin. The goal of creating content in a business space is to draw in customers. Using SEO best practices is meant to help you reach that goal.
The Importance of SEO: Success Every Day with Optimization
SEO best practices are vital for any business creating online content. Your SEO practices drive your website toward success. They make average content good and good content outstanding!
If your SEO standards are in need of some CPR, Mr. Thrive can help. Our free digital ecosystem audit, available through December 31, 2022, is designed to find any gaps in your SEO. Sign up today to get started on your FREE digital ecosystem audit with Mr. Thrive.