Again and again, search engines like Google update their algorithms to determine who is showing up in the search results and how those sites are ranked. For many, this can make or break your business.
We spend year after year on the forefront of web marketing trends, often times making them up as we go along. What we learn is through research, rigorous testing and a bit of trial and error. After analyzing the data and studying the algorithms, this is what we’ve come up with… and we’re giving it all to you to apply to your site for a prosperous new year.
Related: Search Engine Visibility Wizard
Here are a few tips to optimize and prioritize your website’s search engine optimization according to the updated algorithmic search criteria being used by all modern search engines.
First and foremost, here is what most SEO ‘specialists’ won’t tell you: For the most part, internal SEO doesn’t go as far as it used to.
Anyone can write anything on their page, in their descriptions and meta tags. What gives a site the most credibility is external links pointing to your site. This has been true for a long time and is one of the reasons search engine results have become so incredibly accurate in recent years. In 2017, this still holds true.
That being said, there is still immense value in thoroughly well crafted on-page SEO and regardless of how many sites point to yours; a site that is not optimized will not rank favorably. In addition, accurate and non-deceptive on-page SEO puts the ability to improve your page rank directly in your (or your web developer’s) hands.
So, without further adieu, here is the internal website SEO criteria prioritized from least to most important in 2017:
Produce a Site Map
Producing a sitemap is pretty simple and a great way to start managing your website’s SEO. Simply use the Google sitemap generator to create a .xml file to let search engine’s know what’s what. Keep in mind though, search engines don’t rely on these very heavily anymore but it is a good feature to have on your site.
Manage Keyword Density
It’s not only about adding keywords anymore. It is important to have your key terms in the correct place and of the right frequency. Too few and your page may not appear to be highly relevant; too many and your site content appears contrived and unauthentic. Keyword density is the amount of times a keyword or phrase appears relative to the length of the page. Thus a page with 200 words and 6 keywords, for example, results in a keyword density of 3% and looks good to search engines. A page with 40 words with a keyword appearing 4 times, however, may be suppressed o the search engine results page. Best practices dictate that overly used keywords are detrimental to your rankings so you should mix it up by using keyword variations whenever possible.
Optimize Description Tags
Description tags are considered meta data- meaning that most people won’t even see them. So why are they important? Search engines do see them and use your description tags to rank your page’s relevance to a user’s search term.
Make sure every page has a concise and relevant description and try and keep it under 200 keyword rich words.
Maintain Concise Navigation
If a search engine’s bots can’t navigate your site then users will probably have a hard time as well. That’s why SERPs (search engine results pages) reflect this in their rankings. Make sure all pages link to one another, no pages are more than a few clicks away from any other page and, course, make sure all front end pages have links in the navigation and/or menu bar.
Optimize Title Tags
Titles are also part of your page’s meta data and are crucial for search engines and users alike. Your title tags are used to sum up the page and may appear as the snippet in the search engine results themselves.
Ensure your titles include your priority keyword for search engines to find and also make sure they are attractive for humans as well.
Maximize Header Relevance
Next on the meta tag list are header tags. While the text of your headers is visible to users, the <h1> tag is what search engines look for to determine the content of the page. Make sure to saturate your page with unique headers. This makes your site easily recognizable to search engines while making it easily navigable for users.
Create Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are your back door to search engine results pages. These allow you to dictate what is displayed in the results and when. These rich snippets can be used for a variety of purposes and makes things easier on the search engines, for which you will be rewarded by way of higher page rankings.
Optimize Page Content
Put good stuff on your site. It’s pretty obvious but often overlooked. Be sure to use your keywords often and in variation. Include unique content that can’t be found anywhere else (or at least not everywhere else). Updating your pages frequently is also helpful. Next try and keep each page’s text to 300-700 words separated into neat, short sentences and concise paragraphs.
It is also a good idea to keep your content accurate and your spelling and grammar pristine.
It is not only important to tell search engines what to look for; it is also important to tell them what to stay away from. Robots.txt files do just that. Use them to prevent search engine crawlers from navigating to back-end files, pages you want to be unsearchable and private or un-optimized pages.
Include Optimized Image Tags
Sure you have to have great images for your users to see and search engines know this. But unfortunately search engines aren’t very good at looking at pictures. Make sure your images have detailed descriptions like title and alt attributes as well as a well defined filename and don’t forget the keywords.
If this seems like a lot… you’re right, it can be. That’s why we’ve created this automatic tool to help you every step of the way. It’s super easy to use and will scan your site in seconds showing you everything you need to get 100% optimized and up-to-date.
Want to chat with a marketing specialist about getting your site up to speed? Contact us!