When it comes to digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important channels. Why? SEO covers an array of facets such as, the technical infrastructure of a website and the on-page and off page elements that are essential to visibility, usability, and conversions. Understanding these components and how they operate is essential to determine a website’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in organic search. If your website is not optimized for search engines your business is missing out on search engine traffic and website visits. If you’re not familiar with SEO, don’t fret! We’ve compiled SEO tips for beginners to assist with your website’s rankings and digital presence.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO and can make or break a website. Researching keywords for your industry can help you to:

  • Identify how consumers search for your products and/or services
  • Determine future changes in demand (positive or negative)
  • Discover what types of publishing products and/or services consumers are interested in now and in the future
  • Scale the competition
  • Develop a list of short-tailed and long-tailed keywords that are most relevant to your target audience

It is important to continually conduct keyword research due to the ever-changing needs, wants, interests of consumers.

Ahrefs is a great tool to help you determine which keywords your company should be tracking. The platform allows you to examine the search volume of keywords, analyze your competitor’s keywords, and track keywords your website is currently ranking for.

Metadata

Whether you’re promoting a new publication or writing a blog about unicorns, it is important that you optimize metadata. In short, metadata are HTML snippets that help search engines understand a landing page’s content. Without metadata, it is difficult to drive consumers from the search engine results page (SERP) to your website. Thus, it is important to include optimized metadata on all landing pages.

Types of Metadata

Titles

Title tags define the title of a webpage and are displayed as snippets on search engine results pages (SERPs). They help users and search engines understand what a page is about and thus, title tags should be a descriptive overview of a page’s content. It is best to take a hierarchical approach when writing title tags e.g. Primary Keyword | Brand Name. Title tags should be 60 characters (487 pixels) or less. Anything greater than 60 characters increases the likelihood that the title will be truncated on SERPs (refer to image). Research shows titles that are under 60 characters are 90% more likely to display properly on SERPs.

Title Tag

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions provide an overview of the contents of a web page. Similar to Title tags, Meta descriptions are also displayed as snippets on SERPs. They are no longer important to search engine rankings but are extremely important in gaining click-through-rates (CTR) from SERPs. These short paragraphs are your opportunity to advertise your content and to let users know whether your content contains the information that they are looking for. The meta description should contain targeted keywords and a compelling description that entices a user to visit the webpage. The description should be no more than 158 characters (920 pixels) or it will be truncated on SERPs.

Headers

Header tags or the <h1> tag is usually the title of a webpage. It is usually the largest text that stands out. There are other header tags in HTML like an h2, h3, h4, etc. Header tags are an important facet of SEO because they help communicate to users and search engines what a webpage is about. It is important to incorporate both short-tail and long-tail keywords in header tags. As search engines crawl your site, they will review the headers and recognize the keywords you are using as important. Headers should be 70 characters or less.

Metadata is fairly easy to implement and does not require SEO services, the help of a marketing agency, or a developer. Google has a myriad of articles for webmasters to learn the basics of metadata and implementation. You can also use tools like Screaming Frog to crawl your website and analyze your metadata.

XML Sitemap

XML sitemaps are beneficial for content publishers for the following reasons:

  • They communicate directly with the search engines about the organization of your website’s content
  • Improve the crawls of a website
  • Notify search engines of altered and/or new website content
  • Provide metadata for the various pages of a website’s

All of the listed benefits helps search engines to better understand and appropriately rank your website.

Solicit Reviews

Online reviews are very important to the short term and long term success of your business. Why? Consumers are also seeking reviews in alarming rates. For example, roughly 90% of consumers read an online review before visiting a business. In addition, roughly 90% of customers trust online reviews as much as a reference from a friend or family member. It’s fair to summarize consumer reviews are very important to your customers, but they are also important for SEO. Consumer reviews are beneficial to SEO in the following ways:

  • provides a range of backlinks
  • a steady flow of original and fresh content
  • improves product or service rankings
  • increases long-tailed keyword traffic

If you are not sure how to go about getting reviews, a marketing agency can help you ask for reviews without annoying your customers.

Image Optimization

Blog graphics, infographics, employees photos, and other imagery are great additions to a website because they help the audience to understand a topic and gives them a frame of reference. Graphics also make beautiful headers or logos which instantly define your website and attract users. However, images can significantly impact user interaction with a website as well as organic rankings. For example, the larger an image the longer it will take for a page to load, which can affect bounce rate, pages/session, average session duration, and more. Moreover, load time is an SEO ranking factor and thus, be sure to properly size all graphics to avoid your website being penalized by search engines.

JPEG or PNG files are the optimal image format. It is important to understand that computer monitors display images at 72dpi, so any resolution higher than that does not add to the quality of the image but rather increases the file size. Thus, you need to save all images at 72dpi and 100kb or less.

Alt text or alternate text helps search engines understand what an image is about. Make sure your image alt text is keyword rich to increase the likelihood of click-through-rates (CTR) even if images cannot render properly for our users. Alt text should be keyword rich to increase the likelihood of click-through-rates. Alt text should be 100 characters or less.

Screaming Frog can also determine the size of your website graphics and any missing alt text.

Page Speed

Page speed can be described in either “page load time” (the time it takes for content to fully display) or “time to the first byte” (how long it takes for your browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server).

Regardless of how you measure page speed, a faster time is better. This is because the longer it takes for a page to load the less time search engines have to crawl a website, which hinders indexation and rankings. Google recommends pages load in 2 seconds or less! Page speed is a crucial element of user experience. For example, pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. Longer load times also affect conversions.

You can test your website’s page speed with Page Speed Insights and Test My Site.

Set up Google, Bing, and Yahoo Business Listings

This is a no-brainer! Setting up local business listings with search engines will enable your business to display in the SERP, maps, and local search for FREE.

If you think you are ready to tackle SEO, but are not sure exactly how to do it, you should look for companies that offer SEO services. Lachina Creative, a full-service marketing agency, offers SEO services and has many years of experience in publishing. We are able to help you use alt text in pictures and generate content that will get you noticed by your targeted audience. We can offer a marketing plan, customized to your business, and make your life easier. Check out our marketing services and contact us today to get your business noticed in search engines!