You can be the most knowledgeable person in your subject, with writing skills that even literature reviewers will envy and awe. But, every writer and content team in 2018 understands that without SEO optimisation, star quality content will not achieve its viewership and reach targets.
So, with great writing, comes great responsibility – to perform well in Google search engines. And so the new lay of the online land is:
Create for people and search engines alike.
But just how do you walk the thin line between marrying your audience to search engine algorithms? Here are 7 beginner lessons.
1. A short, teaser title that also avoids truncation in search
Most search engines are optimised for titles that are between 50 and 60 words. Anything beyond 60 words runs a high risk of being truncated in search results. And no reader wants to see a half-title, ending with ellipsis either. Your title can include brand name or numbers, but more importantly it should elicit a sense of mystery from the reader.
2. A URL that’s short and sweet
The sin of URLs is its lengthy concoctions of random numbers and letters, that offer no clue to the readers on its content. A URL necessitates keywords that do the job of being descriptive, short, yet meaningful. The URL should enlighten the reader on what to expect at first glance.
3. Meta descriptions
How can words not even present in the main article, hold so much power over page views and readership? Welcome to meta-descriptions. These need to be enriched with words that are targeted towards your audience. It also helps to keep the length of the description between 70 and 160 characters. Now, what would happen if you don’t enter this meta-data? The search engine will automatically gather a random paragraph from your article in its place (which is not always a good thing).
4. H1 tags for competent headings
H1 tags are known to hold high value in SEO ranking of a website. They are the most noticeable piece of content. It is usually an HTML tag that points towards the primary headline on the page. It is necessary that the heading answers the how, what and when of the article, in order to be more receptive. Characters that exceed 70 are prone to water down the impact of SEO.
Protip 1: Crosscheck the source code to ensure your page contains only one H1 tag. While current search engines are technically sound to not confuse multiple headings, this tiny glitch can deal a big blow to your SEO.
Protip 2: If the post is text heavy, like a heavy blog post, make sure to include H2, H3 and H4 headings for reading simplicity and aesthetic value.
5. Keywords, the thesaurus has you covered
Search engines do not particularly like articles overloaded with keywords. So, they have a tendency to ban sites that overuse them. Make sure to strategically use keywords for 2-5% of the entire content. Disperse them among headings, paragraphs and image captions. This is where a great vocabulary (or a thesaurus) comes to the rescue.
6. Eye-popping images
From a visual standpoint, images grab more attention than the content itself. But from an SEO standpoint, it is necessary to use the target keyword in the filename of the image, as well as in the ALT tag. This can ensure additional benefit of the article popping up in image searches. Second, having a large file size can move the reader away from the page, as well as lower your SEO ratings. More importantly, ensure the image aligns well with the text in your article.
7. Internal and External links
In order to show Google that your content is well researched and cites adequate information, links are a prominent part of your SEO tactic. Linking to two or three popular and trusted sites helps boost the overall value of your page, which is sought after by search engines. Also, adding links to your internal (and external) webpages is a great way to increase SEO ratings. Not only does this ensure easier access of relevant content to users, but also aids in search engines recognising your pages. All these translate to a good Google Page Ranking.
Do keep in mind, on-page SEO is just a small piece of the big SEO puzzle. Overall design of the website, ease of browsing in mobile, speed, fonts and quality of images come together to paint the bigger picture. So, make sure to keep these tips into consideration the next time you churn out content for the World Wide Web.