The Simple Guide to SEO Best Practices

Ah, SEO. Everyone has to do it (if they want their content to rank, that is), but somehow everyone seems a bit, well, afraid of it too. But stop – you don’t need to be! Our SEO best practices are straightforward tips that will help you get more organic traffic without sweating it.
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Of course, there are a gazillion techniques for how to improve SEO (some tried and tested, others… not so much), so it can be hard to know where to start. But here we’ve broken it down into general and platform-specific guides. Begin with these ten simple SEO optimization tips, and you’re sure to notice a difference in your website’s ranking performance.

Recommended: We can help you with our SEO Services >

In need of a quick checklist? Here’s a recap so you can refer back to our guide on how to improve SEO as often as you like.

SEO Best Practices Checklist:

  1. Improve your page speed
  2. Write compelling meta descriptions and title tags
  3. Use smart link-building
  4. Optimize your images
  5. Place keywords high up in content
  6. Use a logical URL structure
  7. Write for humans, not computers
  8. Give your content searchable context
  9. Use the short-term benefits of social signals
  10. Enhance your user experience

It’s a lot of work, but you can start small and work up. And remember, you don’t need to be scared of SEO. It’s still all about creating unique and valuable content – just using a few clever tools at the same time to help it reach as many people as possible.

How to improve your SEO: a general guide

Here are our top ten tips for honing in on your website’s SEO. All are quite simple, but they’re capable of producing major results.

Speed

According to expert Neil Patel, “page speed is a critical factor in SEO.” That applies to users and search engines, who will give up or consider your website untrustworthy if it takes ages to load. Run a site audit using a tool like Ubersuggest and delete or optimize elements slowing it down. You’re aiming for a load speed for desktop and mobile that’s “excellent.”

Meta Descriptions & Title Tags

These are the first things people see in a list of search results, and therefore the first impression of your page. Use keywords, keep it simple, and make each meta description and title tag unique. This is compelling to users and will avoid search engine penalties.

Links

Inbound, outbound, and internal – this one’s a biggie. It’s also one of the best ways to improve your ranking. Employing a smart link-building strategy will encourage backlinks (a sign of authority) and boost organic traffic. Just make sure the websites you’re linking to are trustworthy and relevant.

Images

Optimizing images is a sure-fire way to improve your website ranking. Compress them to improve site-loading speed, make sure the format is optimal for the image type, and add alt text (with keywords) to help browsers scan them better.

Keyword Location

Thorough keyword research won’t help if you don’t employ the results properly. Remember: main keywords should come right at the top, as Google tends to give more weight to the start of the content.

URL Structure

Both humans and computers need to understand your URLs. They should be composed of words separated by hyphens, avoiding connectors and including keywords, if possible. Page titles and dates are the best routes to go down, not automatically generated strings of numbers.

Style

Don’t think design, think writing style. Remember you are ultimately writing for people. This means avoiding keyword stuffing or sales-y content, keeping it useful, relevant, and valuable to readers. Vary your sentence length, post regularly, and consider writing long-form if appropriate.

Search Intent

Make sure your content has context. Know what type of content you’re providing: is it informational, commercial, transactional, or navigational (i.e., leading to a different website or product)? Use words related to your users’ goals and hit up those LSI keywords to make sure your content fits with search intent.

Social Media

It’s not part of Google’s ranking algorithm yet, but experts like Brian Dean are closely monitoring social media signals. His case studies suggest that social signals from Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and the like can improve traffic and rankings in the short-term and may even help drive organic traffic.

User Experience

Good user experience (UX) will stop users from leaving your site and returning to search results – bad form in Google’s eyes. Popups, ads, broken links, and slow loading speeds are all likely to lose you users, so fix these problems now to increase dwell time.

SEO Optimization Tips for Specific Platforms

In this section, we’re going to share some ways to optimize your website ranking for certain platforms. If you don’t use one of these platforms, don’t worry – you may still find some of the tips helpful, or you can get straight to work using our general SEO best practices guide.

WordPress

There are a few SEO optimization tips that apply specifically to WordPress. If you want your website to start ranking better, check these areas to rapidly improve your SEO.

  • Visibility settings – allow you to choose whether search engines index your site or not. Turn on for maximum SEO optimization.
  • Categories and tags – convey the relevance of your content to allow search engines and users to index your site.
  • Comments – make sure your comments section is free of spam by using Akismet (pre-installed) and, if necessary, different pages to prevent slow-down.
  • Plugins – AIOSEO and Yoast are the two most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. They help with XML Sitemaps and Google Search Console, plus include handy tools to manage keyword density and readability.

Related: WordPress SEO Services

Shopify

When it comes to Shopify, you can improve your website ranking by investing a bit of time in the following adjustments:

  • Site structure – keep it simple to encourage users to browse more and for longer. Avoid loads of subcategories, and always include an “About” and a “Contact” page.
  • Product pages – optimize by putting main keywords at the top and writing great title tags and meta descriptions. There’s more on this in our general guide to SEO best practices.
  • Shopify plugins – the platform comes with several optional apps including Smart SEO, SEMRush, Yoast, and SEO Image Optimizer. Use them in combination to increase organic traffic.

Squarespace

The good news is that your Squarespace website comes with SEO-optimizing features like sitemaps and SSL certificates ready integrated. However, it also pays to be aware of the following:

  • Keyword research – crucial for getting your website indexed and ranked. Before writing new content, be sure you know which keywords to use and insert them into meta descriptions and titles too.
  • Mobile and voice search – Squarespace is mobile-friendly but check the speed of your website using Google mobile speed test. And don’t forget those long-tail keywords, which are crucial for the increasingly popular voice search.

Remember to use these techniques in combination with the SEO optimization tips given above. What you can do in practice all depends on your resources (time, most of all, and maybe budget), but even a few improvements can make a big difference to your ranking. If you’re uncertain, start with page speed and meta descriptions, sort out your link structure, and aim to optimize those images.

Related: 10 Best Free Keyword Research Tools

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