After reading our post about the importance of SEO (see previous post), you might say, “Okay, I get it. My site needs SEO. But it sounds daunting, and I’m not sure where to start. What are some simple things I can do to better my site’s chances of ranking?” Let’s talk about best practices.
SEO best practices provide a basic framework for optimizing a site. The key guiding principle behind best practices is simple: Demonstrate to the search engine that your site deserves to rank well. As Joost from Yoast Academy succinctly states, “There are no tricks. There are no shortcuts. You just have to be the best.”
Tricks & Shortcuts
Many sites have attempted to use tricks and shortcuts to forge their way to the top. In the past, Google wielded no easy method for verifying that a site presented content that was true and applicable for users. Several updates implemented by Google have changed that, making it more difficult for “black hat” SEO techniques to push a site to high-ranking positions. These updates reward site owners who follow best practices. So, what do SEO best practices look like? Here are a couple essential items to consider:
1. Engaging/Relevant Content
2. User Experience
The content must engage the reader and must adequately answer (or provide a way to answer) questions relevant to their search. Google does not actually read through the articles on your site, but it does analyze post length and searches for keywords. Content that engages the reader will be an appropriate length and will contain a keyword(s) associated with the article’s topic. Google recognizes these and other elements and will rank sites in part based on their inclusion.
If the user experience (UX) is top-notch, customers are more likely to commit to or purchase what they see. Good UX requires some technical skills. When optimizing UX, the designer needs to consider site structure, site speed, well-placed images, and an appropriate number and placement of links. A slow or poorly designed website bores or frustrates viewers. What users want is a fast-loading, intuitive experience. Sites that load quickly and are free of other hindrances to good UX typically rank higher in search engines. Search engines also respond well to sites that are mobile-friendly. If a site is not optimized for mobile devices, it is sure to receive less attention than its mobile-friendly competitors. Content and UX tie back into our key guiding principle: be the best. Top-notch content and UX tell search engines that your site provides the best result for the user. These elements start a site on the path to excellence. The skilled site designer abides by the principle that SEO best practices make perfect.