Everyone with a website has thrown around the term “SEO” or “search engine optimization.” However, few really understand exactly how and when to implement it. In a perfect world, SEO would be as much a part of the conversation in planning as anything else. When building a site map, planning URL paths and creating content, it’s important to think about the terms used, the HTML elements they are wrapped in, the content flow, and – most often neglected – the user experience. A website planned with SEO in mind from the beginning is already on the path to success.
SEO TIP #1
Don’t wait until you have finished building your website to begin optimizing it. Optimize your content outline, site map, etc. right from the beginning. Identify your keywords strategy for each page of your website. Make notes!
While website aesthetics are important for “looking good” and providing a stimulating user experience, content structure and the proper use of HTML elements is more important for search engines and indexing. Don’t misunderstand – the user experience is equally important. But, for indexing and telling search engines about the content on your site, focus must be placed on how the page is coded.
SEO TIP #2
Use HTML 5 elements properly. Know the difference between a Section, Article, and Div. Understand how Heading elements are used and nested. Again, optimize these various elements according to your keyword strategy. Use free tools available online to view the HTML outline of your page (https://gsnedders.html5.org/outliner/ is an excellent free online tool). You should be able to read down the outline, hitting all your keywords and understand exactly what your entire page is about without reading the full content.
Metadata may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but nothing could be further from the truth. Meta titles, descriptions, robot directives, etc. all serve to describe and identify web pages and content. Some metadata is the most critical SEO information on the page, so don’t neglect it.
SEO TIP #3
Compose meta titles and descriptions using your keyword strategy for each page. Be sure your meta content is readable and makes sense – don’t just stuff it with keywords. For better understanding metadata, http://www.metatags.org/ is an excellent resource.
Don’t shy away from using plugins that assist with SEO. Many plugins make the process less intimidating and even provide valuable feedback as to the quality of your work. Bottom line is you want all the help you can get to optimize your website to its full potential.
SEO TIP #4
Take time to research SEO plugins to use in your website. At the very least it will serve as confirmation that you’ve done everything you need to do to optimize your website. WordPress, in particular, has many plugins that work great such as Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack.
More than ever, website performance is impacting optimization, ranking, and user experience. Performance concerns include things like page load speed, number of server calls, optimizing images, serving up scaled images, minifying code, etc. For maximum optimization potential, be sure to spend some time analyzing the performance of your website, making adjustments where necessary. Some studies have shown that many users abandon a web page that takes longer than 2.5 seconds to load. Web page performance and speed are not fly-by-night concerns, but are becoming critical indicators for best practice web development and optimization.
SEO TIP #5
Use current and universally accepted coding practices in your web development. Be mindful to not use unnecessary plugins or attachments (excessive CSS, JS, or PHP documents) as they increase the number of server calls, hence slowing down the loading of the page. Be sure all images on your website are optimized for the web and use image sprites when possible. Take advantage of free online tools such as https://gtmetrix.com/ and http://www.seoptimer.com/ to check your website’s performance and speed.
Of course, there are many facets to successfully optimizing a website, but hopefully, these tips will help ensure your website is built with the maximum potential for ranking well in search engines.