More and more content marketing is saturating the web. If your business website is going to compete in this crowded field, the on-page SEO of your site has to be top of mind. WordPress-based websites are a great start, so are tools like Yoast SEO. But you’ll get even more SERPs performance by further refining your website architecture, digging into the HTML and metadata, and of course, publishing great content.
Here are our picks for the 10 key areas to focus on and why they matter to SEO in 2017.
Great web content is the foundation of your site. It’s the key to conversions and sales, providing your users the information they need to learn about your business and products. Relevant, original, and engaging content is a must in 2017’s congested content market.
SEO Best Practices for Content: incorporate appropriate keywords and regularly refresh and update site content to keep Google happy.
HTML tags form an important part of web experience. They’re also foundational for proper SEO at this point. Learn how to properly use heading tags, title tags, image and media tags, alt tags, and even meta description tags. This metadata content is often hidden below the surface but still counts as “on-page” SEO. It has a huge affect on how the page is displayed to you, the user, as well as how the web page appears to search engines.
SEO Best Practices for HTML Tags: For heading tags, only one H1 tag per page and appropriate use of H2 through H6 tags. For title, meta description, and alt tags, incorporate relevant keywords. For title and meta description tags, pay attention to the character limits (65 and 150, respectively).
The structure of your URLs should be logical and streamlined. Long, ugly, and gibberish-filled URLs don’t get organic clicks or shares anymore, hurting your SEO in the long run when your site appears less popular in Google’s eyes.
SEO Best Practices for URLs: short, descriptive, and keyword-rich for starters. The one exception to short URLs is UTM codes for tracking marketing campaigns.
Validated Code HTML CSS
Validated code is another foundational step in this day and age. Good HTML and CSS enhances the user experience for visitors to your site by eliminating annoying and troublesome bugs and glitches. Happy users visit, engage, and share more, which makes Google happy.
SEO Best Practices for Validated Code: run your site through an HTML and CSS validator like W3C, fix any errors.
Creating an XML sitemap is a no-brainer. Search engine crawlers love this self-supplied, organized list of all the URLs for your website because it makes the job of properly indexing your site easier for them. Sitemaps can also supply beneficial page and media metadata for the Googlebot.
SEO Best Practices for an XML Sitemap: Create a sitemap, either manually or use a web tool like Google’s, then submit your sitemap to search engines for indexing.
Help search engine crawlers help you by configuring your site’s robots exclusion protocol (robots.txt file). Here you can tell web crawlers, such the Googlebot, what pages the robot should not access.
SEO Best Practices for Robots.txt: Create a robots.txt file that’s as beneficial for your site as it is for the bot. For instance, all parties are helped when a site disallows a desktop crawler access to its mobile site and vice versa.
The future of the web is mobile and particularly, mobile-friendly sites when it comes to Google’s mobile SERPs ranking preferences. Users, too, want to be able to access most product and service websites from their portable device. Around 80% of online shopping happens on a phone now.
SEO Best Practices for Mobile Friendliness: Responsive design is the best choice for meeting the demands of both desktop and mobile users with a whole range of device screens. Remember to tweak content writing style, button size, and UX factors for even better ROI.
The web is an increasingly visual place. You don’t want your site to be a wall of text, but smart use of optimized imagery is a must. Quality images that are large enough to get the job done, yet small enough file-wise to load quickly are very important.
SEO Best Practices for Image Optimization: High-resolution images used as blog filler or background imagery must be resized down, so users don’t have to wait for them to load. Complete metadata fields like alt image text and short image description for more chances to get your content seen via search.
The time it takes for your web page to load is a crucial factor for users and for SEO. Under 1 second is ideal, more than 2 or 3 seconds to load and you’ll lose a lot of your traffic. The more bounce stats your site racks up the more it will count against your SEO rankings.
SEO Best Practices for Website Speed: Mobile friendliness and optimized imagery all feed into helping your site load faster for mobile users, but there are other considerations. Use a website speed test tool to check for issues with themes, plugins, and settings.
A strategy for internal linking is a must in 2017. Blog posts and other contents should link back to related content pieces in an intelligent, strategic way. You want users to enjoy your site and content, finding more material to consume via internal links. The longer users spend on your site, the bigger the benefit to your SERPs.
SEO Best Practices for Internal Linking: Focus on content first, then link related blog posts, etc. for easy user navigation. Make sure all pages link to the homepage and other key internal URLs.